Special teams captain released as club trims roster to 53
Special teams captain Courtney Roby was one of the bigger names among players released Saturday by the New Orleans Saints as they reached the regular-season limit of 53 players by making 22 roster moves.
Roby, who had been with the team since 2008, had his contract terminated along with cornerback Chris Carr, a nine-year veteran who was trying to earn a roster spot with new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan — whom he played under from 2005-07 with the Oakland Raiders.
The Saints also terminated the contract of defensive end/linebacker Jay Richardson, who saw extensive action in the preseason because of numerous injuries at linebacker, and waived wide receiver Preston Parker, who caught two touchdown passes in the preseason opener against the Kansas City Chiefs.
A wide receiver by trade, Roby made his biggest contributions on special teams as a return man and on punt and kickoff coverage. He was valued by Saints coaches as a gunner who lined up on the outside on punts and fought off double-teams to get downfield to try to make the tackle.
Playing in 62 career games with the Saints — including 13 a year ago — Roby, who was voted special teams captain by his teammates each of the past two seasons, had just two receptions for 15 yards.
But he averaged 25.6 yards on 94 kickoff returns and had a 97-yarder for a score to open the second half against the St. Louis Rams in 2009, helping the Saints to their ninth consecutive game to start a season that would culminate with them winning Super Bowl XLIV.
Carr was signed by the Saints in mid-June as their offseason program was winding up. He made a strong impression early in training camp and made some big plays in the Black and Gold Scrimmage, intercepting one pass and tipping another pass that linebacker David Hawthorne intercepted.
Richardson — who started Thursday night’s preseason finale with the Miami Dolphins at defensive end because starter Cameron Jordan was held out — hasn’t played in an NFL regular-season game since 2010.
The Saints also terminated the contract of safety Jim Leonhard, an unrestricted free agent whom they signed this spring, and put center/guard Eric Olsen on injured reserve.
Including Parker, the Saints waived 17 players. That group included former Tulane quarterback Ryan Griffin, an undrafted free agent, and outside linebacker Rufus Johnson, their sixth-round draft pick this spring.
Also waived were nose tackle Isaako Aaitui; linebackers Baraka Atkins and Ray Shipman; wide receiver Saalim Hakim; fullback Austin Johnson; tight ends Michael Higgins and Keavon Milton; tackle Marcel Jones; cornerbacks Korey Lindsey and Jumal Rolle; guards Elliott Mealer and Andrew Tiller; safety Jerico Nelson; and center Jeremiah Warren.
Tiller and Jones were selected by the Saints in the 2012 draft, but both missed the entire season with injuries. Tiller, a sixth-round pick, suffered a triceps injury in a preseason game and Jones, who was chosen in the seventh round, had a knee injury just before the season opener.
Lindsey is a Baton Rouge native and Scotlandville High School graduate who played at Southern Illinois, while Nelson, a Kenner native, played at Destrehan High.
While there will likely be some changes by the time the Saints open the regular season on Sept. 8 against the Atlanta Falcons in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, the 53-man roster includes 10 rookies.
Making the roster were four of their five draft picks — safety Kenny Vaccaro (first round), tackle Terron Armstead and nose tackle John Jenkins (third round), and wide receiver Kenny Stills (fifth round).
Undrafted free agents who made the final 53 were defensive end Glenn Foster, who had four sacks in the preseason; guard Tim Lelito; tight end Josh Hill; running back Khiry Robinson; inside linebacker Kevin Reddick; and cornerback Rod Sweeting.
The Saints and all other teams can begin signing a maximum of eight players to their practice squad at 11 a.m. Sunday when the waiver period expires on players who were released Saturday.
Among the players the Saints might be interested in bringing back to the practice squad are Griffin, Johnson, Higgins, Jones, Tiller, Shipman and Nelson if they aren’t claimed by another team.