Saints training camp preview: Roster locks and long shots at defensive end

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We’ll be previewing each position group every day twice a day, from now until the New Orleans Saints rookies race each other to the doors for the start of training camp. After previously scouting the landscape at quarterback in New Orleans, we’re turning our attentions to the defensive ends rotation — a spot that could get highly competitive as the summer continues.

These previews are structured into three tiers: roster locks (certainties to make the team), players on the bubble (those with something to prove), and long shots (players at the end of the depth chart). Things will change once the pads come on and new opportunities present themselves, so let’s jump into the preview:

Roster locks

Cameron Jordan, Marcus Davenport, Payton Turner I'm comfortable saying these three are locked in, at a position where the Saints usually keep just four or five players. Each of them are first round picks in various stages of development -- Jordan wants to show his dip in production last year was an aberration, while Davenport still needs to break out after a disappointing start to his career. Turner should be eager to make a strong first impression in his rookie training camp.

On the bubble

Carl Granderson, Tanoh Kpassagnon Granderson's five sacks last year was a big step forwards, but he has to do more to stand out in what often hasn't been a heavy rotation. Snaps will be tough to come by. Kpassagnon's history of lining up inside at times could help his case to make the team. If I'm guessing today, both players crack the Week 1 roster, but it shouldn't shock us if one of them doesn't make the cut given New Orleans' usual approach to the position.

Long shots

Noah Spence, Marcus Willoughby Spence lost his 2020 season to a summer knee injury, so this could be a make-or-break situation for his NFL career. Willoughby joined the Saints practice squad after initially signing with the Baltimore Ravens out of college. Right now, both of them are on the outside looking in for most 53-man roster projections. They need to hit the ground running one training camp kicks off.

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