Even with an extra game of film to watch, the New Orleans Saints’ coaching staff will have great difficulty deciding which young running back to keep on the roster; third-year pro Chris Ivory or rookie Travaris Cadet.
The Hall of Fame Game, even though it didn’t technically count as a preseason game, was where Cadet piqued the interest of competition watchers in New Orleans.
In six attempts, Cadet registered negative yardage, but his eight receptions for 80 yards and a touchdown raised eyebrows. And that would be the storyline all preseason.
Ivory out-rushed Cadet by 22 yards through five games and had a better per-carry average too. But Cadet caught 30 passes and racked up 246 yards through the air. Ivory had just two receptions.
With Pierre Thomas, Mark Ingram and Darren Sproles solidly locked in for roster spots, will Ivory get the nod for the fourth—and possibly final—tailback roster spot? Or will it be Cadet?
The competition between the runners is one of the few things that link the two; Cadet and Ivory are as different as can be.
Both were undrafted free agents—Ivory in 2010 and Cadet this season—and weren’t stars at the collegiate level. Stylistically is where they differ.
Ivory mixes speed and power to churn yards and uses his size to bully the ball through the line. Cadet is shifty, a natural athlete that mixes prowess in the passing game into his skill set.
Who should the Saints keep on the 53-man roster?
Do the Saints need another tailback who’s a threat out of the backfield?
Sproles might be the best running back in the NFL in the passing game. He caught 86 passes last year and scored seven touchdowns through the air. Thomas caught 50 passes and added a touchdown in the passing game.
With Cadet’s style mirroring two-thirds of the established three-headed monster in New Orleans, isn’t it a safer guess to think the Saints will go with more of a typical running back in Ivory?
Another edge Ivory has is that fact that he has history with the Saints franchise. Memories will boost the number of cards Ivory can play as he petitions to keep his roster spot.
Ivory stepped up in the 2010 playoffs and was a much-used portion of the Saints rushing attack, if not the featured portion. For Ivory to feel safe, the Saints need to remember that aspect of the playoffs, not the left foot injury that forced Ivory to injured reserve.
Ivory led the team in rushing that season with 716 yards, but he couldn’t follow up in 2011, playing in only six games.
Still, history will likely weigh heavily on this decision. How can the Saints release a running back they feel so highly about, one that led the team just two years ago in rushing?
We won’t have to wait long to find out. The Saints have until 9 p.m. ET Friday to trim their roster to 53 players.
Mike Triplett of the Times-Picayune wrote an article before the Saints' final preseason game predicting Cadet was on the outside looking in, but also offered hope for both running backs.
“It's also possible the Saints could keep five tailbacks, especially early in the year, because injuries are always a possibility.”