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Saints mailbag: Champ on bubble?

Thanks for submitting your questions to me on Twitter during the New Orleans Saints' first off-day in training camp. And check here for live updates as the team gets back on the practice field today at 8:50 a.m. eastern time.

@MikeTriplett: This was a hot topic this week after The MMQB’s Greg Bedard observed that Champ Bailey looked “extremely average” to him when he visited Saints camp and said it wouldn’t be a shock if Bailey doesn’t make the team.

First of all, I don’t share that opinion. I’m not saying Bailey has blown me away with his athleticism or speed. And I still think he’ll have to prove he deserves the starting job over Patrick Robinson (who has maybe been even more impressive so far in camp) and Corey White. But Bailey has never stood out to me as looking especially stiff or slow. He seems to be moving around well, and he’s shown some playmaking instincts a couple times.

More importantly, from what I've been told, the Saints seem to be pleased with Bailey so far. They obviously had a specific vision in mind for him when they added him, knowing full well that his skill set and athleticism had diminished. The Saints are very high on “ball skills” and still feel Bailey can win battles for the ball in the air in tight spaces. So I think he’s still the guy to beat for that No. 2 cornerback job.

However, I also wouldn’t totally dismiss what Bedard wrote, for two reasons. One, Bedard is a longtime NFL writer who has seen a lot more of Bailey in past years than I have. So he’s in a better position to compare how Bailey looks now against how Bailey looked in the past.

And two, Bailey could indeed be in jeopardy if he doesn’t win a starting job. It wouldn’t make a ton of sense for the Saints to keep Bailey around as a backup since they use safety Rafael Bush in their nickel packages and Bailey wouldn’t be much of an asset on special teams like White is, for example.

@MikeTriplett: Piggybacking off of what I just said, the veterans who could be “surprise cuts” are usually the ones who might get beaten out for a starting job and wouldn’t serve much purpose as backups if they don’t play special teams.

Think Jon Stinchcomb or Alex Brown (both of whom got cut in training camp) or Scott Shanle (who became inactive every week after losing his starting job) in recent years.

For now, I don't have any of those types of surprise cuts in my 53-man roster projections because I haven’t seen any reason to cut any of the Saints’ vets from last season. But if you had to look at the type of player who could be in jeopardy if he doesn’t win a starting/rotational role, you’d look at guys such as Bailey, Robinson, center Jonathan Goodwin, receiver Robert Meachem, or the veteran linebackers since there are so many guys battling for roster spots at that position.

@MikeTriplett: Since I haven’t cut any veterans yet on my projected 53-man roster, I also haven’t added any undrafted rookies yet. But there were two guys that I almost added in the latest edition -- safety Pierre Warren from Jacksonville State and tight end Nic Jacobs from McNeese State.

Warren has been widely recognized for making a lot of big plays in practice in recent days. More importantly, he clearly did something early on to gain the trust of the coaches, since he’s run with the second string ahead of other roster hopefuls all summer. The key for Warren, however, will be how he handles special teams in the preseason games.

Jacobs, meanwhile, has turned my head because he moves so well for his massive size (6-foot-5, 269 pounds). I could see the Saints finding a role for a big blocking tight end with growth potential.

Receivers Brandon Coleman and Seantavius Jones have looked good at times. But receivers always seem to shine in training camp, and they’ve got a lot of veterans ahead of them. Some of the linebackers have flashed at times, such as Todd Davis, Marcus Thompson and Kasim Edebali. But that’s an even deeper position.

I also like what I’ve seen from center Matt Armstrong and quarterback Logan Kilgore, though they’re probably more practice-squad material.

And if there’s someone I didn’t mention, it doesn’t mean they’re struggling. It just means there are 90 guys out there on the practice field, and it’s hard to get eyes on everybody consistently.

@MikeTriplett: I’d still rank guys such as Jimmy Graham, Cameron Jordan, Keenan Lewis and a handful of others higher. But I do see your point. The Saints are really counting on Terron Armstead to continue developing (he looks like he could be a really special player). And from the little I’ve seen so far, backup Bryce Harris looks a lot more polished as a run-blocker than pass protector on the left side.

I’m planning to write something on Armstead in the next day or two. I’m expecting a really nice Year 2 leap from him, and I think the Saints are, too.