August 28, 2011

Roster Cutdown Decisions Made Tonight

By Tuesday, all NFL teams must reduce their offseason rosters from 90 to 80 players.  The Saints, one of the last teams to play their third preseason game tonight, will cut many of the players seen late in tonight's game action.

The starters are expected to play at least half of the game, if not more, limiting the available snaps to plays facing the cutdown on Tuesday.

"Bubble" players spared the cutdown on Tuesday will face a second cutdown just four days later.  All NFL teams will have played their final preseason game by Friday, September 2, and the roster cutdown from 75 to 53 players is the next day.

One of the biggest surprises in camp and preseason so far is undrafted WR Joe Morgan, who scored on a punt return in week one and a long touchdown pass in week two.  Morgan won't get a chance for a third score to beat Adrian Arrington and others for the fifth or sixth wide receiver job on the roster, as he received minor knee surgery and will be out for up to four weeks.

The injury to Morgan could work out for the Saints, who have seen enough to know what potential Morgan has and can now hide him from the spotlight and on their 2011 practice squad.

Injuries to Lance Moore, whose availability for the opener in 11 days is in doubt, and Marques Colston will give extra opportunity for others on the depth chart race.

Andy Tanner, Montez Billings, and rookie John Chiles will be the primary recipients of the extra playing time.  Undrafted rookie Jarred Fayson could join them tonight if healthy.  All are fighting Adrian Arrington, whose days on the Saints roster could be nearing an end.  In his third training camp, Arrington has exhausted his practice squad eligibility and has fought through injuries to get snaps in camp and preseason.

Veteran Courtney Roby looks to stay as the fifth wide receiver primarily because of his special teams experience and skill, especially in an offseason when the Saints have lost and replaced many of their special teamers.

UPDATE: A late-changing decision allowed for 80 players on rosters for the final preseason game instead of 75.

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