As the weeks go on, it gets more and more difficult to project the Saints' 53-man roster. A lot of players have had moments and have the talent to make the final 53. But that's the problem. There are only 53 spots open and there are 90 players in camp.
This week, I made changes to the number of players at three different position groups.
So without further adieu, here is my latest projected Saints 53-man roster.
Luke McCown played well Friday and has gotten the majority of the first-team reps, but the growth of Ryan Griffin from last year to now has been remarkable. The Saints have invested a lot in him and I can't see them cutting him in favor of McCown. Especially since Griffin is also younger and cheaper.
Wide Receiver (5)
I've officially dropped from six to five wide receivers and in my toughest cut to date, I parted ways with Robert Meachem. The emergence of Joe Morgan makes him expendable. If they do keep six, Meachem would likely be that guy.
Running Backs (4)
No change here. These four players will be on the roster.
Tight End (3)
Easy call here. Hill has had an outstanding training camp/preseason. Nic Jacobs and Je'ronn Hamm seem to be well behind Hill in the battle for the third tight end spot.
Another change comes at fullback where the mysterious injury/absence of Erik Lorig has allowed Austin Johnson to step up. I don't think the Saints want to cut Lorig, but he hasn't been available to them. Perhaps if the injury lingers, they could place Lorig on injured reserve.
Another week of split first-team reps for Goodwin and Lelito. This race is too close to call but both will be around when the final 53 are announced.
A new battle is brewing for the backup guard position. Kelemete has gotten a lot of first-team reps in place of Grubbs but recently Marcel Jones has gotten a lot of work filling in for Jahri Evans. I still have Kelemete getting the nod, but Jones is closing the gap quickly.
Armstead and Strief are obvious. Harris has struggled at times in pass coverage, but as I observed him Friday it became clear to me that Harris is much more comfortable on the right. Ultimately, I think the Saints have faith in him and he will make the roster.
Defensive End (4)
No change here.
Defensive Tackle (3)
I'm putting Deaderick back on the final roster. For a guy who plays right in the middle of the defense, he seems to have gotten his hands on a few balls this camp and preseason.
Outside Linebacker (5)
This list is assuming Fortt's injury is not overly serious. However, if it does linger Fortt would be a prime candidate to go on injured reserve. In that scenario, Ronald Powell would be on the roster. Honestly, I haven't seen much out of Powell that is overly impressive but how long can the Saints really wait on Victor Butler?
Inside Linebacker (4)
I don't see the need to have more than four inside linebackers when the Saints use their nickel/dime packages so frequently. Reddick and Humber are solid in special teams.
This group has been hit hard with some injuries lately. Robinson and Bailey have missed a lot practice while Lewis was banged up in the Tennessee game. Still, I have the same five as last week. Trevin Wade is the one player who might have a chance to catch on if he has a strong preseason and injuries are more serious than originally thought.
My next big move is to add a safety on this roster. This position will now have six instead of five. Undrafted rookie Pierre Warren has made too many plays to be ignored. Plus, Rob Ryan places a very high priority on safeties.
Thomas Morstead (P)
Shayne Graham (K)
Justin Drescher (LS)
I still have Graham winning the kicker battle of Derek Dimke. Morstead and Drescher are obvious choices.