The New Orleans Saints are off from practice today before they board a plane and head up to the Midwest to face the Browns in their 1st Pre-Season game at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.. Central time.
Once the Saints contest against the Browns gets underway Thursday Night, one player who could possibly help his own cause with a good showing in front of the rabid Cleveland fan-base known as "The Dawg Pound" is Saints rookie defensive end / edge rusher Al-Quadin Muhammad -- the team's 6th Round Draft from the University of Miami Hurricanes.
Muhammad is quietly having a solid Training Camp thus far after 2 weeks worth of practices, and he potentially could see a significant amount of action on Thursday Night against the Browns, especially in the 2nd half.
Al-Quadin Muhammad with a sack on Nassib.
— Josh Katzenstein (@jkatzenstein) July 31, 2017
The 22-year old has had some "stand out" moments through the total of 11 practices thus far throughout Camp, and it would appear at least at the moment that he has a fair shot at making the Final 53-man roster as a situational pass rusher at the 9-Technique right defensive end / edge rusher position.
Muhammad as of this very moment, is listed 4th on the Saints just-released depth chart at the RDE spot, behind current starter Alex Okafor, #2 RDE Hau'oli Kikaha; and 3rd year veteran Obum Gwacham; and ahead of UDFA rookie Alex Jenkins.
Muhammad appears to have caught the eyes of the Saints defensive coaching staff and defensive line coach Ryan Nielsen on occasion, and has had made a good showing at certain times both during one-on-one and 11-on-11 team drills.
Rookie DE Al-Quadin Muhammad flashed today in one-on-one pass rush drills. Mitchell Loewen looked good, too.
— Josh Katzenstein (@jkatzenstein) August 7, 2017
However, it's this Thursday Night against the Browns and their back-up / 2nd year QB Cody Kessler and rookie QB DeShone Kizer, where Muhammad could get the opportunity to stand out in a real game situation as opposed to practice.
The pick of Muhammad in the Draft for the Saints was notable for a lot of things -- the least of which is that if Muhammad can continue his good showing thus far and exhibit further growth and development throughout the remainder of the year as a rookie, he could actually end up being another well-publicized late-round NFL Draft "gem" for New Orleans.
Coming out of college, Palm Beach Post Canes beat writer Matt Porter says that Muhammad, a Newark, N.J. native, was a heralded high school recruit who was suspended for nearly as many games (14) as he played in (17) at the University of Miami, and finished his brief career with the Hurricanes with 10.5 tackles for loss and 7.0 sacks.
Entering his redshirt junior season, he was dismissed in Aug. 2016 (along with linebacker Jermaine Grace) after UM found he violated NCAA rules by dealing with a South Beach luxury car rental agency. Porter adds that Muhammad was also suspended for the 2014 season for punching a fellow student after UM’s spring game and benched for the first game of 2015; which led many at the school to wonder "what might have been".
Porter notes that Muhammad is an extremely raw and unpolished young player given his playing inexperience, but looks the part of a physical outside edge pass-rusher.
NFL.com wrote that he “has the physical traits to warrant a look even though he hasn’t played football in two of the last three seasons. He’s a basic pass rusher who doesn’t have explosive burst upfield and he still has work to do with his hands. At this point, he’s a developmental outside linebacker with character baggage that could have a heavy impact on his draft status.”
ESPN ranked him 22nd among defensive ends and said his “frame and versatility are intriguing,” given that he has played both 4-3 defensive and and 3-4 outside linebacker at Miami, but his maturity is a “substantial concern. … “plays with a chip on his shoulder and [shows] good fight taking on bigger blockers. Relentless would be an overstatement but [displays] good effort.”
Bottom line: Muhammad has an entire "boat load" of potential, and he just needed to be in the right situation with a team that would allow him to grow and develop his skills not only on the field, but OFF of the field as well.
Muhammad, who is also a father of a 4-year old son, perhaps has now realized that he has the opportunity of a lifetime that should allow him to flourish both as a man and as a football player, during his time in NOLA.
Thus far after 2 weeks of Saints Training Camp, that certainly looks to be the case.
Now this Thursday Night against the Browns back-up QB's, Al-Quadin Muhammad will look to make a whole lot of noise --- after a 'quiet' but solid start to his NFL career...........