Pete Werner lands on NFI list, should Saints re-sign Kwon Alexander?

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·2 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

This isn’t ideal: the New Orleans Saints designated Pete Werner to the non-football injury list on Wednesday, sidelining one of their starting linebackers for the early days of training camp. So it didn’t take long for fans to start calling for the team to bring back Kwon Alexander.

It makes sense given how popular Alexander has become after landing with New Orleans (his background as a former LSU Tiger helped), but a minor injury to Werner shouldn’t rush the Saints into a reunion with a player they’ve chosen to move on from. Dennis Allen declined to share details on what Werner is dealing with, but he downplayed the severity by saying, “Hopefully it’s nothing that will keep him out too long.”

And this is an opportunity for a couple of backups to get snaps with the first-string defense. Kaden Elliss and Zack Baun have both played bit parts in the rotation, and the only way they’ll improve enough to get into the starting lineup in the fall is by making the most of these reps in July. With Werner sidelined they’re both getting more looks next to Demario Davis. It feels redundant to spell it out like this, but it’s tough for players to get better without practicing.

So while a reactionary Alexander signing would appease some impatient fans, it’s in the Saints’ interest to take Werner’s absence as a chance to see where Baun is at in his third season. They invested a couple of draft picks in acquiring him not that long ago, envisioning a plan to convert him to weakside linebacker — the exact role that Alexander and Werner have filled instead. Whether that was a good plan or not is behind us. Now that both of those players aren’t in his way, it’s time for Baun to give it his best shot and show his coaches what he can do.

It’s not like the Saints need a starter this Sunday, in which case a known quantity like Alexander would be preferred. Giving Baun the first-string snaps for a few days or maybe a week (or however long Werner is expected to be sidelined; Allen suggested it won’t be long, and he’s already doing conditioning work on his own in practice) is the way to go.

Again, Baun won’t become a known quantity (for good or for bad) until he puts enough snaps on film for the team to better evaluate him. Embrace that opportunity, and once Werner is healthy, use what you’ve learned to reset the depth chart appropriately. That’s the best path forward right now.