Saints RB Jones, Jr.'s Performance Pressures Veterans Murray and Freeman

New Orleans' second-year running back Tony Jones, Jr.'s performance in camp and preseason is creating roster pressure for two veterans.
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New Orleans' second-year running back Tony Jones, Jr.'s performance in camp and preseason is creating roster pressure for veterans Latavius Murray and Devonta Freeman. Jones, Jr. is noticeably more active on rushing plays for the Saints.  

The Notre Dame product has caused enough buzz for the ESPN commentators to say Sean Payton considers him the No. 2 running back behind All-Pro RB Alvin Kamara.

RB Latavius Murray and Jameis Winston

Latavius Murray is entering his eighth NFL season and third with New Orleans. He's been a steady player for the Saints during his tenure, but Murray is a tad slower and less powerful compared to Jones' lively legs.  

Murray is not having a stellar 2021 preseason. Last week against the Ravens he rushed for 6 yards on 5 carries. Tonight, he tied last week's total of 6 yards, but on 4 carries for a total of 12 yards.

Jones, Jr. notched 82 yards on 7 attempts versus Baltimore. He followed last week's numbers with 24 yards on 5 rushes in the Jaguars contest for a total of 106 yards and 12 attempts for an 8.83 yards/attempt average.

Former Atlanta superstar running back Devonta Freeman isn't exciting anyone this preseason either. New Orleans signed the seven-year veteran to a one-year deal at the end of July. He had 6 rushes for 6 yards, and one huge fumble in the Baltimore game. On Monday night, Freeman gained 18 yards on 7 carries. He still has a bit of elusiveness on his patented cutback runs.

Latavius Murray appears to be low on the totem pole inside the running backs room. Murray has been a solid performer since signing with the Saints in 2019 with 1,293 yards, 11 touchdowns (9 rushing, 2 receiving). Murray came to New Orleans after two seasons with Minnesota and three years with the Raiders.

New Orleans would owe Murray his base of $2.95M, $850K prorated bonus, and $400K in other bonuses if he is on the roster in Week 1.

Veteran Dwayne Washington could be a camp casualty, but figures to remain on the team for his contributions on special teams.  Jones, Jr. will account for a $660K base salary for the season.

The Saints can carry up to four running backs on its 53-man roster.

Kamara and Jones, Jr. seems to be locked for roster spots.   The final preseason game could determine the fate of Murray, Freeman, and Washington.

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