Notes, Quotes

The Sports Xchange

September 05, 2018 at 1:08 am.

–The Saints looked around and decided former Patriots running back Mike Gillislee was a better option to fill in for Mark Ingram II than Jonathan Williams, who had a good camp and preseason. The Saints released Williams in the cutdown to 53, though they later added him to the practice roster. Alvin Kamara, who like Ingram had more than 1,500 yards from scrimmage last season, naturally will be the primary running back, but head coach Sean Payton has said the Saints won’t replace Ingram’s touches by overworking Kamara. So either Gillislee or rookie Boston Scott, or both, is in for a busy day Sunday.

“We have gone through the tape with all these players we’re familiar with and (Gillislee) was a guy that you kind of paid attention to in the preseason,” Payton said. “I think the vision is a first- and second-down runner who has given (the teams he has played for) hard yards. He is a guy that can be physical and he can handle the workload.”

–New Orleans opted for experience and youth in choosing its backup offensive linemen. They kept veterans Jermon Bushrod, who can play tackle and guard, and Josh LeRibeus, who can play guard and center. But they also hung on to second-year player Cameron Tom and rookie seventh-round draft choice Will Clapp of LSU as the other two reserves. Both played guard and center in the preseason.

–Early in training camp, Payton said he was looking to upgrade the return game when the team signed veteran wide receiver Brandon Tate. Payton said Tate’s primary role would be as a return specialist, but the team released Tate in the cutdown. Apparently, Payton felt more comfortable with rookie Scott and veteran wide receiver Tommylee Lewis as return specialists as the preseason wore on.

–Quarterback Drew Brees: For the 13th consecutive season, Brees is the most important player on the team. The Saints have become less dependent on Brees with a rejuvenated running game led by a strong offensive line and the addition of Alvin Kamara in the draft last year. Still the key to how far the Saints go this season remains how well Brees and the passing game perform.

–Wide receiver Tre’Quan Smith: The third-round choice from UCF started opening eyes in the early days of training camp and he kept making plays throughout the preseason. He caught passes in every preseason game and led New Orleans with 15 catches for 189 yards. He initially seemed a strong candidate to be the fourth receiver behind starters Michael Thomas and Ted Ginn Jr. as well as veteran free-agent signee Cameron Meredith, but it wouldn’t be surprising if he moved past Meredith and even challenged Ginn on the depth chart at some point during the season.