METAIRIE, La. (AP) — The New Orleans Saints included 12-time Pro Bowl cornerback Champ Bailey, veteran receiver Robert Meachem and both kickers among their final preseason roster cuts Saturday.
Receiver Nick Toon was among several young, relatively unproven players who survived the last round of cuts before the Saints begin preparations for their Sept. 7 regular-season opener at Atlanta. Others still with the club include undrafted rookie cornerback Brian Dixon; linebackers Kyle Knox and Kasim Edebali; and offensive lineman Senio Kelemete.
New Orleans also held onto to veteran defensive tackle Brandon Deaderick.
The Saints brought in Bailey after he was released by Denver and general manager Mickey Loomis said after the move that Bailey was expected to compete for a starting cornerback job. However, Bailey struggled with a foot injury and saw limited action in only the final two preseason games. Meanwhile, Patrick Robinson, a 2010 first-round draft choice, came back strong from a knee injury and apparently won the job.
The younger cornerbacks the Saints kept over the more accomplished 36-year-old Bailey have been healthier and also contribute on special teams.
The Saints did not immediately indicate what their intentions were at kicker after their decision to cut both veteran Shayne Graham and rookie Derek Dimke, but they could have in mind one of a number of proven kickers cut by other clubs.
Veteran kicker Ryan Succop, for example, was cut by the Kansas City Chiefs on Saturday after being beaten out by rookie Cairo Santos, a former Lou Groza Award winner from Tulane. Meanwhile, the Arizona Cardinals recently cut veteran kicker Jay Feely.
The Saints also could choose to bring back either of the kickers they had throughout camp after they've had an opportunity to review all of the new candidates for that position. When they find a kicker, they'll have to either cut another player or put one on injured reserve.
Saints players still on the roster who've been struggling with injuries during the past few weeks of the preseason include fullback Erik Lorig and linebacker Khairi Fortt.
For now, the Saints have chosen to keep three quarterbacks, giving them the option of going with either veteran Luke McCown or second-year pro Ryan Griffin in the event they need to relieve star quarterback Drew Brees. McCown also has gotten the majority of work as the holder on field goals.
The Saints had to trim 22 players from the roster between Thursday night's preseason finale and Saturday afternoon's deadline to get down to the 53-player regular-season limit.
Included among final cuts were: receivers Brandon Coleman, Seantavious Jones and Charles Hawkins; cornerbacks Terrence Frederick, Trevin Wade and Derrius Brooks; running back Derrick Strozier, linebackers Keyunta Dawson and Todd Davis; fullback Greg Jones; tight end Nic Jacobs; defensive tackle Lawrence Virgil; and offensive linemen Jason Weaver, Marcel Jones, Tavon Rooks, Thomas Welch and Matt Armstrong.
A number of the younger players cut by New Orleans could be eligible to be brought back on the club's practice squad as early as Sunday. The NFL this season expanded practice squads from eight to 10 players.