As the names of players the Saints signed to the practice squad trickled out throughout Sunday, the team’s hardest core fans grew worried that one wasn’t among them: undrafted rookie safety Pierre Warren, last seen intercepting a pass against Baltimore in the preseason finale Thursday.
The Saints assuaged that anxiety on Monday morning by releasing their official 10-man practice squad — and including Warren on it, ruling out the possibility that the promising safety had sought an opportunity elsewhere.
Two other names of players on the practice squad that were not among the seven The Advocate reported Sunday were undrafted rookie tight end Nic Jacobs (who played in college at McNeese State and LSU) and guard Antoine McClain. The practice squad signees the public had already been informed about were wide receiver Brandon Coleman, cornerback Trevin Wade, cornerback Terrence Frederick, wide receiver Seantavius Jones, tackle Tavon Rooks, linebacker Todd Davis and nose tackle Lawrence Virgil.
Warren caught the eyes of the media and fans at the start of training camp in West Virginia with pass break-ups, at least one forced fumble and an interception in intrasquad drills. He commanded more attention with a near-interception in an Aug. 8 win at St. Louis, one of three victories for the Saints this preseason.
Things then quieted down for Warren as the Saints gave a significant number of snaps to safety Marcus Ball, the Canadian Football League export. Ball, though, was unavailable for a win at Indianapolis on Aug. 23 and a loss to Baltimore at home Thursday.
Warren took advantage of Ball’s absence by picking off a deep pass in the end zone in the defeat to the Ravens. The ball was badly overthrown, but Warren perfectly timed his jump to snatch the looping ball out of the air and bring it down for a Saints touchback.
Teammates said it was a just reward for a player who quickly learned the playbook and fit in well with the schematically exotic defense run by coordinator Rob Ryan, in his second year with the Saints.
Meanwhile, Jacobs showed good hands — especially on throws in traffic — as well as promise as a blocker. However, the 6-foot-5, 269-pound undrafted rookie caught only one pass for 15 yards in the preseason.
McClain was the only player signed onto the Saints’ practice squad who did not spend training camp or the offseason with the team. He joined Baltimore in 2012 as an undrafted rookie out of Clemson.
Though he did not play in a regular-season game for them, McClain was on the Oakland Raiders’ active roster for the first six weeks of 2013 before being acquired on waivers by Buffalo. In Buffalo, McClain was a backup lineman for the team’s last 11 games.
Except for McClain, nine of the players on New Orleans’ practice squad were waived by the Saints on Saturday, the last day the team had to present its first 53-man roster for 2014. Buffalo waived McClain.
All 10 of the players on the Saints’ practice squad went through waivers unclaimed.
Practice squad players are not on teams’ 53-man rosters but get paid to train as if they are and can be promoted to the full team. They can also be signed to the 53-man rosters of other teams.