Three thoughts from the Saints’ 24-21 loss to the Dolphins:
1.) Ryan Griffin all but solidified his spot on the Saints’ practice squad. The rookie out of Tulane has had a good camp. But he fumbled one exchange from center, was off target on several passes, didn’t seem to get into rhythm until the fourth quarter and threw a bad interception on third-and-goal late in the fourth-quarter.
It’s what he did well that shows his future potential. He made a nice, long pass to Saalim Hakim and then followed it with a nicely placed pass to fullback Austin Johnson for two-yard touchdown.
Griffin knows the Saints’ system well, having played in it at Tulane as a senior. He has tremendous upside between his size and football smarts. He’s the type of player who needs time on an NFL practice squad to get used to the speed of the game and how the NFL works.
Certainly Chase Daniel came in having played football at a higher level than Griffin. But the scenarios are similar. Daniel needed the year on practice squad as much as Griffin does.
2) If Travaris Cadet was going to hold onto the roster spot he gained last year, he wasn’t helped out Thursday night by missing the final preseason game for undisclosed reasons.
Khiry Robinson, meanwhile, had a solid offseason and training camp before the second half Thursday night. And the way he played against Miami would seem to tilt the battle in his favor. He ran hard, made some nice catches and showed tons of stamina in running for 115 yards on 22 carries.
That built on his previous three appearances, when he tallied 113 yards on 27 carries. But the question in regard to Robinson in his duel with Cadet was the latter’s ability to do several things on the field. Well, Robinson showed he could make finger-tip grabs just as well as Cadet.
Of course, fumbling on the goal line won’t help one’s cause, and that’s what Robinson did in the fourth quarter Thursday. And fumbling at midfield didn’t help, either.
But his work preceding it would seem to be enough for the youngster.
3.) Tim Lelito can likely put turn in his September rent check because it’s likely he sticks around. Thursday would seem to have sealed it.
The backup guard worked at center and played exceptionally well. He was out front on downfield blocks. He was physical in the trench. And he recovered a fumble in the end zone for a touchdown in a heads up play.
It’s his work over the past two weeks that tilted things in his favor. Eric Olsen was penciled in as the backup center having played there in 2012. But Lelito outplayed Olsen at right guard against Houston and then handled himself very well at center against Miami.
Lelito never looked out of place and that the NFL game was too much for him despite having played at tiny Grand Valley State.
Bonus Thought.) The key to the fourth preseason game is to get out without injuries. And the Saints didn’t do that.
Nick Toon left with an undisclosed injury. Glenn Foster limped off the field and didn’t return. Isa Abdul-Quddus was injured on the opening kickoff.
This after the Saints roster already had been depleted by injuries. Will Smith, Joseph Morgan and Kenyon Coleman were lost for the season during training camp.
The only good news? It doesn’t appear any of the injuries were serious. Toon had a chest injury while Foster injured his ankle. Coach Sean Payton didn’t seem too worried that they would be long-term injuries.