Following what will be their 4th and final game of the 2018 NFL Pre-Season this Thursday Night against the Los Angeles Rams inside of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, the New Orleans Saints must cut their team's Final Roster for the upcoming 2018 Regular Season, to their last remaining 53 players no later than by 4 p.m. Eastern / 3 p.m. Central time on Saturday, September 2nd.
With that thought in mind, this morning the Saints News Network looks at 5 of the players who are the most likely to get CUT from the team — including one veteran player that might surprise you.
And we begin first with.......
LINDEN STEPHENS, CORNERBACK
Heading into Training Camp, Stephens had been considered a bit of a project player, but with a lot of upside. But the consensus was that he could fall out of favor quickly if he didn't "flash" enough during Training Camp to turn any heads.
But for Stephens, it's not that he isn't talented or incapable of playing in the NFL; but simply just a matter of him getting caught up in "the numbers game".
Marshon Lattimore, Ken Crawley, Patrick Robinson, PJ Williams, Arthur Maulet, Marcus Williams, and Natrell Jamerson are all ahead of Stephens on the team's current CB depth chart; making the former University of Cincinnati star a very likely candidate for the Practice Squad.
MICHAEL HOOMANAWANUI, TIGHT END
With Ben Watson entrenched as the starter at tight end and young veteran Josh Hill the likely #2 TE to begin the season, Hooman was hoping to stay on the team as the #3 TE.
But Hooman's absence throughout a big portion of Camp with a series of nagging injuries prevented him from participating for most of the Summer; and 2nd year UDFA TE Dan Arnold has since made a strong push for that #3 spot as well — meaning that Hoomanawanui needed to "stand out" this Summer, but he hasn't.
As of this moment, it would appear that Arnold can solidify a Final Roster spot this Thursday Night at home against the Rams; which will leave Hooman "standing on the outside, looking in".
JAY BROMLEY, DEFENSIVE TACKLE
With the starting rotation set for the most part in the interior of the Saints D-Line with nose tackle Tyeler Davison, and co-starting 5-technique DT's David Onyemata and Sheldon Rankins sharing the load as the designated interior pass rushers, the REAL BATTLE is for the 4th DT Final Roster spot.
That battle ultimately will come down to veteran Jay Bromley, last year's UDFA and this Summer's stand-out performer in Devaroe Lawrence, and rookie Taylor Stallworth. Initially, it was believed that the slight edge would go to Bromley due to his experience.
But Lawrence has had a PHENOMENAL Pre-Season up to this point, and Stallworth has looked sensational at times as well. At this point, the job is Lawrence's to lose; and with Stallworth likely being a virtual lock to make the Practice Squad, it's Bromley who will be getting a one-way ticket out of NOLA.
TOMMYLEE LEWIS, WIDE RECEIVER
Plain and simple: the ONLY WAY that Lewis — now in his 3rd season with the team — has of making the Final Roster this time around is if he could somehow manage to impress the Saints coaching staff enough to convince them that he deserves a possible 6th WR spot over fellow back-up WR's Michael Floyd, Austin Carr and Keith Kirkwood. (As of right now if the Saints decide to only keep 5 receivers, they most likely will be Michael Thomas, Ted Ginn, Jr., Cam Meredith, Tre'Quan Smith, and Brandon Tate, who will get the 5th spot because he is the best kick returner).
It's expected that Lewis will see plenty of action against the Rams this Thursday Night, at WR and also possibly returning punts and kicks as well. But even If the Saints ultimately keep 6 WR's, you'd still have to believe that Lewis hasn’t made a big enough impact on offense to keep him around as the designated kick returner (which clearly Tate is better than Lewis at doing). That 6th spot as of now, would go to Carr.
At this point, it's just hard to envision Lewis making the team for a 3rd straight year; and unless he has a complete offensive "explosion" against the Rams defense inside the Superdome, Lewis will be seeking employment elsewhere by the Labor Day (no pun intended) Weekend.
HAU'OLI KIKAHA, LINEBACKER / DEFENSIVE END
Last but not the least, this is the CUT (assuming the Saints actually go through with it) most likely to happen which would come as a surprise for many Saints fans; given the expectations that came with him as a 2nd Round pick for the team back in the 2015 NFL Draft a few years ago.
Kikaha started out with the Saints originally at his more natural position as an outside edge pass rusher / 9-technique right defensive end, before the team moved him to the "Sam" linebacker spot. When it didn't pan out, he was eventually moved back to defensive end, But while there's no question that the Saints defensive coaching staff was hoping that this change back to the "Sam" LB spot would have given them another way to utilize Kikaha's notable pass-rushing skills (by using him to blitz the QB in certain passing situations), his Training Camp and Pre-Season performances overall left a lot to be desired.
With Demario Davis, A.J. Klein, Alex Anzalone, Manti Te'o, Craig Robertson, and Nate Stupar all currently still ahead of him on the LB depth chart, Kikaha will need the best game of his NFL career this Thursday Night against the Rams. Otherwise, it's VERY possible that we are witnessing Kikaha's final chapter about to be written, for the Saints history books......