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Another member of the New Orleans Saints’ 2019 NFL Draft class landed on injured reserve with safety Saquan Hampton ending his rookie season. It’s unclear what sort of injury Hampton is dealing with. His departure opened a spot on the 53-man roster for veteran cornerback Janoris Jenkins, who the Saints picked up on waivers earlier this week.
Hampton was a sixth-round pick out of Rutgers, and had been frequently inactive this year due to New Orleans’ depth at the position. But when backup safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson exited Monday’s game against the Indianapolis Colts with a concussion, Hampton was forced into the lineup; starting safety Vonn Bell was inactive with a knee injury. In total, Hampton only dressed for five games in 2019, logging 34 snaps on defense and 63 appearances on special teams. He’s been credited with one solo tackle for a loss of yards.
This means three of the Saints’ five draft picks have either finished their rookie season on injured reserve or been released. Linebacker Kaden Elliss, a seventh-round draft pick out of Idaho, went down with an ACL injury back in September. New Orleans’ other late-round pick, tight end Alize Mack, was cut from the practice squad earlier this year. Thankfully, the Saints hit on their first two draft picks (standout center Erik McCoy and Gardner-Johnson) and have built such a deep roster that they can absorb these hits.
As for Jenkins: Saints coach Sean Payton was noncommittal when asked if the veteran would start right away, and he offered a vote of confidence in No. 2 cornerback Eli Apple during his Wednesday conference call. Apple figures to be Jenkins’ top competition for playing time given his recent struggles.
One silver lining here may be that two Saints mainstays — Gardner-Johnson and right guard Larry Warford — each left Monday’s game with serious injuries, but neither of them were lost to injured reserve to make room for Jenkins. Instead, the Saints found something to designate Hampton with (he finished the Colts game with no apparent injuries), which could imply neither Gardner-Johnson nor Warford are expected to miss extended time. But we won’t know for certain until the Saints injury report is published later Wednesday.