METAIRIE, La. -- The New Orleans Saints released veteran running back Jonathan Williams, a surprising move since he appeared likely to help them fill the void during Mark Ingram's four-game suspension to start the season.
The move likely means that rookie sixth-round draft pick Boston Scott will play a key role as Alvin Kamara's backup during the first four weeks, though the Saints could still look to add another running back. They placed veteran running back Shane Vereen on injured reserve Saturday and released veteran running back Terrance West two weeks ago.
The Saints also have second-year running back/fullback/special-teams specialist Trey Edmunds on the roster if needed in a pinch.
In addition, veteran running back Mike Gillislee, who was released by the New England Patriots on Saturday, is visiting with the Saints on Sunday, a source told ESPN, confirming a report by NFL Network.
Williams, who was also a surprise cut by the Buffalo Bills at this time last year, got off to a great start this summer in New Orleans. But Scott also impressed this summer and actually started ahead of Williams in the preseason finale.
Williams had 31 carries for 124 yards and two touchdowns in the preseason, plus two catches for 5 yards.
Scott, who was the shortest player drafted in the NFL this year at 5 foot 6, had 25 carries for 121 yards and a touchdown, plus three catches for 18 yards.
Williams, 24, was a fifth-round draft choice by the Bills in 2016. But he had only 27 carries for 94 yards and a touchdown as a rookie before being cut by Buffalo's new coaching staff and general manager last year.
Williams spent time on the Denver Broncos' practice squad before signing with the Saints in the middle of last season, though he did not appear in a game.
Ingram is suspended for the first four games of the season for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing substances. But Saints coach Sean Payton has made it clear that he doesn't plan to simply double Kamara's workload to make up the difference.
Not all of the Saints' draft picks were as fortunate as Scott on Saturday. New Orleans waived three members of its draft class -- fourth-round offensive tackle Rick Leonard, fifth-round cornerback Natrell Jamerson and sixth-round safety Kamrin Moore. They also waived undrafted quarterback J.T. Barrett, among others, as they pared their roster down to the NFL-mandated 53 players.
The Saints also released veteran quarterback Tom Savage, veteran cornerback Marcus Williams and veteran offensive linemen Josh LeRibeus and Michael Ola among others. The writing was obviously on the wall for Savage after the team traded for Teddy Bridgewater earlier in the week.