Updated Saints 53-man roster and practice squad for Week 1 vs. Falcons

·7 min read

Alright – barring a surprise last-minute change, the New Orleans Saints have set their 53-man roster and 16-man practice squad ahead of their Week 1 kickoff with the Atlanta Falcons. And any players who are brought in so soon before game day won’t have enough time to practice with the team so that they can dress out on Sunday. 

Remember, NFL rules mandate that only 48 players may dress out on game days, meaning there will be inactive players. Two of those activations will come from the practice squad as single-game promotions. It’s a good time to brush up on the roster and consider who will be playing heavy snaps in Atlanta, so let’s get to it:

Quarterbacks (2, plus 1)

  • No. 2 Jameis Winston

  • No. 14 Andy Dalton

  • Practice squad: No. 16 Jake Luton

There’s your depth chart. So much rides on Winston – if he can just be average and get the ball to his weapons, the offense should be fine. Things get exciting if he can take a step forward. But the Saints smartly invested in Dalton as their backup, meaning things don’t get fraught if Winston takes a step back. Luton is a fine option for that spot on the practice squad. He won’t be expected to do more than keep drills running on schedule during the week.

Running backs (5)

  • No. 41 Alvin Kamara

  • No. 5 Mark Ingram II

  • No. 24 Dwayne Washington

  • No. 34 Tony Jones Jr

  • No. 46 Adam Prentice (fullback)

  • Practice squad: N/A

Can Ingram be a No. 2 runner behind Kamara for one more year? He’s gotten up there in years and struggled with an injury and poor blocking up front last season, but Ingram ran hard in the preseason and might have enough left in the tank to see things through. Kamara is one of the game’s best players, but the less he’s asked to do on his own, the better.

Tight ends (4, plus 2)

  • No. 82 Adam Trautman

  • No. 7 Taysom Hill

  • No. 83 Juwan Johnson

  • No. 81 Nick Vannett

  • Practice squad: No. 88 J.P. Holtz, No. 87 Lucas Krull (rookie)

Probably the weakest position group on offense (if not the team as a whole), the Saints tight ends could help out if a couple of different factors go their way. If Trautman finally breaks out, if Hill can remain healthy, and if Johnson can continue to develop, they’ll have enough different skill sets to make an impact. But that’s a lot of questions to answer at just one spot on the roster.

Wide receivers (6, plus 3)

  • No. 13 Michael Thomas

  • No. 80 Jarvis Landry

  • No. 12 Chris Olave (rookie)

  • No. 1 Marquez Callaway

  • No. 11 Deonte Harty

  • No. 10 Tre’Quan Smith

  • Practice squad: No. 33 Kirk Merritt, No. 84 Dai’Jean Dixon (rookie), No. 89 Rashid Shaheed (rookie)

  • Suspended: No. 15 Kawaan Baker

Baker doesn’t count towards the roster limit for the first six weeks while serving his suspension. Will Thomas be healthy enough to play in Week 1 – even on a pitch count? It’s something to watch. That’s also the case for Smith, who was inactive on Wednesday (Thomas was a limited participant). If either of them can’t go, the other four players on the roster should be enough firepower to see New Orleans through, but stay tuned.

Offensive tackles (4)

    • No. 71 Ryan Ramczyk

    • No. 74 James Hurst

    • No. 67 Landon Young

    • No. 66 Lewis Kidd (rookie)

    • Practice squad: N/A

  • Injured reserve: No. 70 Trevor Penning (rookie)

Young was a non-participant on Wednesday’s injury report, and that’s problematic given his status as the backup left tackle. If he can’t go, you’re asking Kidd to back up both spots behind Ramczyk and Hurst. Hopefully he can continue to heal up ahead of kickoff. It’s a bit surprising to see the Saints haven’t brought in another left tackle to keep in reserve.

Offensive guards/centers (5, plus 3)

  • No. 78 Erik McCoy (center)

  • No. 75 Andrus Peat

  • No. 51 Cesar Ruiz

  • No. 76 Calvin Throckmorton

  • No. TBD Wyatt Davis

  • Practice squad: No. 68 Josh Andrews, No. 72 Nick Martin (center), No. 61 Drew Desjarlais

That’s a lot of interior linemen, but you can never have enough depth – especially considering McCoy and Peat both missed time with injuries last year. Hopefully everyone stays healthy here. It’s critically important that Ruiz continues to settle in at right guard so he can focus on improvement. Davis was recently signed, replacing reserve left tackle Tanner Owen, though he’s a career right guard.

Special teams (3)

  • No. 3 Wil Lutz (kicker)

  • No. 4 Blake Gillikin (punter)

  • No. 49 Zach Wood (long snapper)

  • Practice squad: N/A

Could these guys each reach the Pro Bowl? Crazier things have happened.

Defensive ends (5, plus 1)

  • No. 94 Cameron Jordan

  • No. 92 Marcus Davenport

  • No. 98 Payton Turner

  • No. 96 Carl Granderson

  • No. 90 Tanoh Kpassagnon

  • Practice squad: No. 54 Taco Charlton

It’s really notable that Davenport was not listed on Wednesday’s injury report, meaning he was a full participant in practice. This is a big year for him given it’s the final season on his rookie contract. He needs to prove he can stay on the field and help the team win games. Jordan is nearing the end of his career and Turner hasn’t impressed as a potential heir. Granderson and Kpassagnon are capable backups but neither is a very special player. Still, those are very solid options to have as the fourth and fifth players on the depth chart.

Defensive tackles (3, plus 2)

  • No. 93 David Onyemata

  • No. 99 Shy Tuttle

  • No. 91 Kentavius Street

  • Practice squad: No. 59 Jordan Jackson (rookie), No. 57 Christian Ringo

  • Injured reserve: No. 97 Malcolm Roach

This still feels like a really thin position group. The Saints never moved to bring in a viable co-starter next to Onyemata, so they’ll be rotating Tuttle and Street into the lineup while probably calling up Jackson or Ringo for Week 1’s game. That’s okay. It’s not ideal, but it’s a winnable strategy.

Linebackers (6, plus 2)

  • No. 56 Demario Davis

  • No. 20 Pete Werner

  • No. 55 Kaden Elliss

  • No. 50 Andrew Dowell

  • No. 53 Zack Baun

  • No. 42 Chase Hansen

  • Practice squad: No. 58 Eric Wilson, No. 45 Nephi Sewell (rookie)

Werner was limited in Wednesday’s practice, but that’s an improvement over the weeks he missed during training camp. He and Davis are the two players in this group with high upside. Everyone else is just a guy who could probably be replaced without much fuss. Missing on Baun as a draft pick is painful, but maybe he’s about to turn things around. Right?

Safeties (6)

  • No. 32 Tyrann Mathieu

  • No. 6 Marcus Maye

  • No. 26 P.J. Williams

  • No. 48 J.T. Gray

  • No. 30 Justin Evans

  • No. 25 Daniel Sorensen

  • Practice squad: N/A

Here’s the strength of the defense. There has been a lot of hand-wringing among fans over Maye’s status and a possible suspension, but don’t look for any movement there until the legal process plays out; unless a damning video displaying violent behavior comes out, it’s unlikely the NFL will feel pressured into reversing precedent here. And Maye is a very important player for the Saints. They’re expecting him to replace Marcus Williams at free safety so that Mathieu can roam the field and make plays. Having veterans like Williams and Evans ready to step up in the wake of the C.J. Gardner-Johnson trade is impressive.

Cornerbacks (4, plus 2)

  • No. 23 Marshon Lattimore

  • No. 29 Paulson Adebo

  • No. 21 Bradley Roby

  • No. 27 Alontae Taylor (rookie)

  • Practice squad: No. 39 DaMarcus Fields (rookie), No. 35 Vincent Gray (rookie)

Adebo didn’t participate in Wednesday’s first practice session, which is a little concerning. But it does open the door for Roby to step into a larger role, and it’s good to see Taylor back as a full participant after he missed some time in camp. If Adebo can’t play in Week 1, the Saints have enough corners to roll without him. Drafting Taylor high may be paying off.

Story originally appeared on Saints Wire