For the second straight day, Roman Harper, Jahri Evans and Mark Ingram were all held out of practice entirely. It's looking more and more possible the Saints could be without at least one if not two of the three players. And there's a chance they'll miss all three. So what does this mean for the roster, and who needs to step up?
Roman Harper: The interesting thing about him being out is it actually won't change all that much for Kenny Vaccaro. The two are often on the field together because Vaccaro is the hybrid defender that's usually covering the opponent's best receiving threat (Gonzalez in week 1, Jackson in week 2), whereas Harper is usually playing near the line of scrimmage like a hybrid linebacker and utility cover guy. So no Harper probably means Vaccaro would slide into his spot and Corey White would play more nickel, or the Saints could keep three safeties on the field with Rafael Bush. But White and Bush will benefit from more snaps moreso than Vaccaro would, since Vaccaro is already getting tons. Another dimension to consider in the gameplan is that Larry Fitzgerald hasn't practiced the last two days either and is questionable to play. Vaccaro was probably going to draw the assignment of sticking with Fitzgerald the majority of this game, so if Fitzgerald is out it may allow the Saints to let Vaccaro roam on defense a little more as oppose to spying one player. If that's the case, it's more likely Vaccaro will replace Harper position for position, with White playing nickel. If Fitzgerald does play and Vaccaro is primarily assigned to him, then I see the majority of the snaps going to Bush as the Saints will need the additional safety.
Jahri Evans: Whereas there are tons of options as listed above if Harper can't go, Evans being out or even compromised is a major problem. The Saints like what they saw from Tim Lelito in preseason a lot, but going up against Darnell Dockett for four quarters in his first start would be terrifying. Guard protection is more important in a Brees quarterbacked offense than tackles, and that would be a lot of pressure on Lelito to come in on a line that's already playing poorly and perform as a rookie in his first start. If Evans can't go this is a massive blow for the Saints.
Mark Ingram: If Ingram is held out this is a pretty simple solution. Sproles and Thomas will get more reps, and Khiry Robinson would be activated. I don't think Robinson will get an even split of snaps that Ingram would get, so he's likely to see more like 5-8 reps (instead of 10-12). Expect Thomas' workload to increase. But if Robinson can impress early in limited reps the offense may lean on him. This could be a good opportunity for the rookie to showcase his talent.
I'm less worried about running back and safety, I'm terrified about guard. But the idea the Saints would possibly have two veterans out and replaced by undrafted rookies is a huge concern. Let's hope that if they play they can overcome the lack of experience.
They could keep out Evans as a precautionary measure because with his elite status he doesn't really need the practice to be fitting into this oline. If something is out of sync with Evans it is out of sync with Brees and that needs to be adjusted, not Evans. Evans could be a major factor in fixing the olines problems though. Bad that he is out.
Btw only now realised the Saints had the Evans brothers in the offense as they now have the Jenkins brothers in defense. And even though the Jenkins brothers look not alike. the Evans brothers we even more different looking from eachother ;-)
PS, there is a small error in the html of the comment section. There is always a space when I start typing.