GREEN BAY, Wis. — Kyle Wilson’s brief time in New Orleans has been up and down.
Brought in to compete for the nickel cornerback spot, Wilson fell from the first team to the third team after summer workouts, then slowly worked his way back into contention for a roster spot with a solid training camp, marked by physical, hard-fought play.
And now that starting cornerback Keenan Lewis is expected to miss four to six weeks after reportedly undergoing hip surgery, Wilson suddenly has a chance to make the final 53-man roster.
The former first-round pick came up with a big way to state his case Thursday night. Dropping into coverage on Green Bay’s first drive into the New Orleans red zone, Wilson read Scott Tolzien’s eyes on a short hitch to Myles White, attacked the throw and made the interception to shut down the drive.
Wilson also broke up a pass later, although he had an illegal contact flag negated an impressive sack by rookie Davis Tull.
With Lewis down, rookie cornerback Damian Swann is in position to fill in as the Saints’ nickel back, leaving a potential opportunity for Wilson, who doesn’t seem to fit as well as an outside corner, to make the initial 53-man roster as the Saints’ backup on the inside.
No group has made the decision-making more difficult on the coaches than the defensive line.
Four undrafted rookies — Bobby Richardson, Tavaris Barnes, Ashaad Mabry and Kaleb Eulls — have made bids for playing time, and as many as two of those players could make the final 53.
Barnes got the start ahead of Richardson, but Richardson made his case with six tackles, three tackles-for-loss, a sack and a holding penalty drawn that negated a big play for the Packers, making this a split decision.
Former UL-Lafayette linebacker Justin Anderson hadn’t gotten any chances on defense in his first two preseason games with the Saints, offering little hope to make the roster.
Anderson got his shot Thursday night in Green Bay.
Offered a chance to start at weakside linebacker ahead of Henry Coley, Anderson played most of the game, making seven tackles and forcing a fumble in the middle of the field by Green Bay running back Rajion Neal.
Out of uniform
Cornerback Brandon Browner and strong safety Kenny Vaccaro practiced this week, but neither was available for the preseason finale.
Offensive tackle Bryce Harris, who was also present at Tuesday’s practice, was not dressed for the game, either.
Previously injured Saints players C.J. Spiller, Khiry Robinson, Ramon Humber and Dannell Ellerbe also were out of uniform.
Kicker Dustin Hopkins started, made a 21-yard field goal and missed a 53-yarder. ... Marcus Murphy returned a missed 66-yard field-goal attempt by Packers kicker Mason Crosby for 38 yards, nearly breaking it wide open. ... Safety Jamarca Sanford was injured briefly but returned to the defense on the next series.