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5 UNDRAFTED Saints Who Can Improve Their Final-53 Man Roster Chances With a “Good Game” vs. the Jaguars

The New Orleans Saints open their 2018 NFL Pre-Season tomorrow night, when they travel to the northern Florida Atlantic coast to face the 2017 AFC South Division champion Jacksonville Jaguars at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville. Kick-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. Eastern / 6 p.m. Central and will be televised locally in New Orleans on FOX Channel 8.

With that in mind, here are 5 undrafted Saints players who can improve their chances of making the team's Final 53-Man Roster at the end of this month, by having a "good game" and an overall solid performance against the Jaguars.

Beginning first with......



Photo courtesy of Michael C. Hebert

The "winner" of the Saints 5th and final WR spot in Camp this year is going to go down to the proverbial wire, and Lewis appears to be the current leader in that regard.

Now in his 3rd NFL season with the team after making it as the team's # 5 WR for the past 2 seasons, Lewis has made some standout plays in the first 2 weeks of Camp thus far, including the other day when he caught an unbelievable pass reception from Drew Brees for a leaping TD grab against CB Ken Crawley in coverage.

With the top 4 players (Michael Thomas, Ted Ginn, Jr., Cam Meredith, and Tre'Quan Smith) set at wide receiver, Lewis is likely going to need to distinguish himself on special teams (especially on kick-off and punt returns) to make the roster. But considering that he's earned that spot in back-to-back seasons, he has a great shot at making it 3 years in a row beginning with a solid performance tomorrow night.



Photo courtesy of Michael C. Hebert

The former college teammate of running back Alvin Kamara while they were together at the University of Tennessee, Jumper was a 2-star recruit from Chattanooga, Tenn., and became one of the most versatile linebackers on the team. The 6-foot-2, 229-pound linebacker played all three linebacker positions over the years, a trait that is obviously coveted by Saints defensive coordinator Dennis Allen.

However despite having a solid Camp thus far, Jumper remains a HUGE underdog to make the Saints Final 53-man roster as of this moment; simply because the linebacker position has been the most improved position this off-season and he is buried on the depth chart at weak side / "Will" linebacker behind Demario Davis and Alex Anzalone.

Jumper could always sneak his way onto the team via a special teams spot, but at this point, it would seem unless he blows away the defensive coaching staff (and specifically linebackers coach Mike Nolan) with some sort of memorable Pre-Season performance starting tomorrow night at TIAA Bank Stadium in Jacksonville against the Jaguars, he could end up on the Practice Squad.



Photo courtesy of Michael C. Hebert

As Saints fans are well aware by now: starting #1 RB Mark Ingram will be suspended for the first 4 games of the upcoming season after testing positive for the use of a banned performance-enhancing drug in his off-season training regimen, and his role is expected to be filled for the most part by last year's 2017 NFL Rookie of the Year and sensational young superstar Alvin Kamara.

However, Kamara won't be expected to shoulder the load all by himself, and is expected to share RB duties with a handful of fellow young veteran back-ups that include Terrance West, Shane Vereen, Jonathan Williams, rookie draft pick Boston Scott, and the young man who's probably the "long shot" at the moment: Saints 2nd year undrafted RB Trey Edmunds.

An undrafted rookie out of the University of Maryland who originally played at Virginia Tech before transferring, Edmunds earned a spot on the Saints' final 53-man roster out of training camp last season and appeared in all 16 games, primarily as a special-teams contributor. But what Saints fans remember most about Edmunds up to this point was last year's Week #10 blow-out 47-10 Saints win over the Bills at Buffalo, New York on November 12th; when Edmunds put the exclamation point on the Saints' dominant performance with a 41-yard TD run down the Bills left side-line to "ice" the victory for New Orleans.

However, It was his only TD of the season, and he finished the year with 9 carries for 48 yards, most of it on that one long run.

Now we fast forward to tomorrow night, and despite having what can only be described as a nice Camp for Edmunds thus far, he needs to come up BIG TIME against the Jaguars, to avoid getting cut at the end of this month.



Photo courtesy of The New Orleans Times-Picayune

Maulet, who starred in college at the University of Memphis, is a 2nd year undrafted player that of course most Saints fans are well aware is a Kenner, Louisiana native (suburban New Orleans); and was an all-around athletic high school superstar at Alfred J. Bonnabel High School, which is right off the I-10 interstate approximately 13 miles away from downtown.

Maulet was an all-state soccer player, an all-district punter, and a all-district cornerback at Bonnabel, and he made a name for himself already when he first earned a spot last season on the Saints Practice Squad. He later got put on the Final Roster and spent six regular-season games and two playoff games on the 53-man roster, playing primarily as an "ace" on special teams. He recorded one tackle in a game against the Falcons.

The Saints have worked Maulet at both outside cornerback and nickelback so far throughout training camp, although head coach Sean Payton said the vision is for him to play at nickel this season. But Maulet has had a stand-out performance throughout the first 2 weeks of Camp, and as of now, if there's any one UDFA player with a LEGITIMATE shot to make the Final 53-man roster besides TommyLee Lewis, it's easily Maulet, hands down. Maulet can solidfy his chances of remaining on the Final Roster again this season, starting with a "good game" vs. the Jaguars tomorrow night.



(Photo by David Grunfeld, | The Times-Picayune)

When your head coach compares you to one of the NFL's greatest undrafted free agents of all-time, then you know that you're doing something right. That's the case for one of the great stories of all of 2018 Saints Training Camp this year, with undrafted wide receiver-turned-tight end Dan Arnold.

Arnold was signed as an undrafted player last year after catching 65 passes for 1,176 yards and 16 touchdowns as a senior at Division III school Wisconsin-Platteville. He made an impression on the coaching staff last summer but spent the year on injured reserve. But this year, Arnold decided to give playing tight end a shot, since the Saints were thin at the position and he felt it gave him a better chance at making the team. 

So he gained 40 pounds and definitely is still a receiving threat to be sure, but he now needs to learn the fundamentals of blocking at the tight end position — which obviously differs from the blocking assignments for a WR. Nevertheless, he's still made a lasting impression, and Payton even referenced a former undrafted player as a comparison who followed a very similar path that Arnold is on, that originally began his NFL career as a WR before eventually becoming an All-Pro tight end: former Dallas Cowboys star Jay Novacek

Arnold still has to make a pretty big impression beginning tomorrow night in Jacksonville just to make even make the team, and despite Payton's reference to Novacek, Arnold has to be considered a long-shot at best to make the Final 53-man Roster.

But Saints fans LOVE the underdog — and you can bet that the scrappy Arnold will do everything in his power, to become the next undrafted Saints player to earn a spot on the Final 53-Man Roster starting with a "good game" against the Jaguars............


Big Easy Magazine contributing writer and Saints News Network columnist Barry Hirstius is a 51-year old semi-retired journalist, former New Orleans-area sports editor, and writer previously with several sites that exclusively cover the New Orleans Saints football team. Additionally, he is a recurring guest on a variety of local Sports Talk Radio programs. Barry is also a New Orleans native who grew up as a fan of the team while attending games as a young boy at the old Tulane Stadium in the early 1970’s, originally following and now covering the team for a span of over 40 plus years. And perhaps most importantly of all: he is the Grandfather of two beautiful young girls, Jasmine and Serenity.....

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