Photo credit: Dave Cariello/SB Nation.
Kasim Edebali separated himself from the pack of young pass rushers hoping to carve themselves a roster spot at the beginning of training camp. He has made a few splash plays in the daily practices, but really stood out in the third preseason game against the Colts with a two-sack performance on only seven pass rushes. He was singled out earlier in the week by Junior Galette as a player who had the hunger to succeed in the NFL and work hard towards dressing out on Sundays. Edabli had a +2.4 grade from Pro Football Focus for his game against the Colts, tied with Cameron Jordan for best on the defense. Edebali’s +2.2 overall grade throughout preseason is the fifth-best on the Saints defense moving into the final week of exhibition games. Right now he is likely no more than a practice squad candidate, but at worst he will be quality depth for the Saints.
Ronald Powell had a strong showing against the Colts, tying the team lead in tackles with five (linebacker Ramon Humber and cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste also made five tackles), four of which were classified as a “stop” by Pro Football Focus. Powell also had a +1.2 run defense grade, but his pass rush grade was -1.2. He looked the part as a complimentary pass rusher to Junior Galette off the edge and should earn significant playing time in that role during the regular season. Whether or not he will play more than a veteran like Parys Haralson is undecided. Powell does need to become a more consistent pass rusher, having only logged one sack and one hurry on 30 pass rushes thus far in the preseason. But his burst is impressive and he has a variety of pass rushing moves to get through blocks, so Powell has good chances of improving as he develops in the NFL.
Mark Ingram has come alive in limited action in preseason, recording Pro Football Focus’ highest Elusive Rating of all running backs at 133.8. His Breakaway Percentage is also the highest in the NFL at 54.1, and Ingram’s Yards After Contact created per Carry is the highest at 4.90. Ingram’s total yards per carry is tied for third in the NFL at 7.0, and he is fourth in the league in total rushing yards through three games at 148. That should obviously be taken with a grain of salt, but Ingram has never looked this effective in the preseason games at this point, and it bodes well for what he can accomplish in the coming series of regular-season games. It’s very coincidental that Ingram is finally both healthy and effective in a contract year, but if he’s ready to help the Saints bring a Lombardi Trophy home before jumping ship I don’t mind too much.
It’s kind of unfair to list Senio Kelemete and Marcel Jones as one player, but they have quickly become an effective pair of backup guards to the Saints’ Pro Bowlers. Kelemete has logged the most snaps of any Saints offensive player in the three preseason games at 147, and Jones has the third-highest count at 134. Saints running backs have enjoyed a very good 3.19 yards before contact per carry when running behind the Saints’ interior offensive line, and the pair has surrendered only one sack and four hurries in 28 pass blocking snaps (a pressure allowed rate of 17.85%). It’s too early to tell which of them will be kept on the 53-man roster, but their specialized skill sets (Kelemete is crosstrained at guard and center, while Jones can play tackle and guard) and solid performances could mean both are retained. With roster cuts looming, one or both of them need to have a great final outing to make their case to play for the Saints.
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