Position: Defensive tackle
Years in the NFL: Rookie
Acquired: Undrafted free agent
College: UT-San Antonio
Highlights: Mabry made 49 tackles, six tackles-for-loss and one sack in his final season at Texas-San Antonio. Mabry bench-pressed 225 pounds 26 times at UTSA’s Pro Day.
Strengths: At 6-foot-3, 315 pounds, Mabry moves well for a player of his size, an asset he’s put on display several times on runs to the perimeter. Mabry is adept at keeping his body free from the blocker and running down the line of scrimmage, making tackles on running backs even after they’ve moved outside the hash marks. Mabry also disengages well as the running back moves through the hole, allowing him to make tackles other interior linemen wouldn’t be able to get to. In one-on-one pass rush drills, Mabry has acquitted himself well, and the rookie’s lateral quickness offers promise that he might be able to improve in that area.
Must continue to: Make plays in the running game. While several other young Saints defensive tackles have flashed their ability as pass rushers, Mabry has been most effective in the running game, and that’s key for a team that needs a backup for John Jenkins as a run-stopper in the middle. Even if he’s not an eye-popping pass rusher, Mabry fills a key role, able to control a gap and sometimes fight off double teams, allowing the linebackers to run free. And if Mabry continues to make tackles in the running game — particularly in the Saints’ all-important preseason games — he has a chance to be an even bigger force, snuffing out runs at the line of scrimmage before they can get started.
Projection: Mabry has a shot at making the roster at a position that needs another option at nose tackle. When the Saints were forced to release Brodrick Bunkley because of an injury, a hole was left at the nose tackle spot. Jenkins, with plenty of starting experience, will be the starter, but there’s a race underway for the second spot, and Mabry might have a leg up on the competition after a solid week in practice.
NEXT THREE UP
Wednesday: New Orleans travels to Baltimore.
Thursday: Saints at Ravens, 6:30 p.m., M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore.
Friday: Day off for Saints.
Out: Running back C.J. Spiller, safety Jairus Byrd, offensive tackle Nick Becton, offensive guard Sean Hickey, wide receiver Jalen Saunders, cornerback P.J. Williams, long snapper Justin Drescher.
Limited: Wide receiver Marques Colston, defensive end Akiem Hicks.
-- Joel A. Erickson