By 5 p.m. central time on Saturday, NFL teams will be required to trim their rosters down to the inevitable 53-man roster. As such, New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton and the rest of the front office will undoubtedly be going back over all of the tape and all of their notes from training camp and the NFL preseason.
Some positions were figured out relatively early in the preseason. The starting left tackle position, for example, saw Charles Brown beat out rookie Terron Armstead and former second-overall draft pick in 2009, Jason Smith.
Other positions, such as wide receiver and linebacker, remain a bit of a mystery. Perhaps not so much of a mystery, however, is who will be given the nod for the fourth running back position among the trio of Pierre Thomas, Darren Sproles and Mark Ingram.
The battle for this position ultimately came down to two players — undrafted rookie Khiry Robinson and second-year man Travaris Cadet. Both had been showing potential in training camp and in the preseason, but by the end of the fourth preseason loss to the Miami Dolphins, I believe that Robinson had secured himself a spot on the roster.
In the loss to the Dolphins, Robinson rushed for 115 yards on 22 carries and caught six passes for another 50 yards. He did fumble twice, but that comes with an asterisk as his first fumble on the Miami goal line might have actually been a touchdown instead of a fumble recovery for a touchdown by Tim Lelito.
Robinson’s second fumble was indeed a fumble, but it should be noted that he is also New Orleans’ rushing leader this preseason with 228 total yards. His total of 228 yards also happens to lead the league in rushing.
Robinson’s main competition for that fourth spot, Cadet, did not play in the final preseason game in Miami. He did fumble twice in the second preseason game against the Oakland Raiders, losing one while the Saints recovered the other.
In total, Cadet has rushed for 55 yards on 22 carries this preseason, making his 2.3 yards per attempt nothing to write home about. He also trailed behind Robinson’s 11 catches for 103 yards, tallying six catches for 59 yards. Neither Robinson nor Cadet scored a rushing or receiving touchdown this preseason.
I believe that Robinson will edge out Cadet come trimming time thanks in part to a preseason that was fairly solid and a final Week 4 game that saw Robinson play, but not Cadet. The Saints have no problem throwing younger guys into the backfield from time to time. Chris Ivory, whose first season with the Saints in 2010 saw him rush for 716 yards on 137 attempts for five touchdowns, comes to mind.
Similarly built while being young and eager, I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see Robinson get the nod to fill in that fourth spot for Ivory following his trade to the New York Jets earlier in the year.