The New Orleans Saints went into Sunday’s game against the Carolina Panthers without a fullback after releasing John Kuhn on Thursday.
Yet, by the end of a 34-13 victory, the Saints had amassed their best rushing performance of the season, totaling 149 yards on a 5.5-yard average.
In the game, reserve offensive lineman Josh LeRibeus played a season-high nine snaps, becoming the sixth offensive lineman in the team’s jumbo package. He had previously played just two offensive snaps.
Tight ends Josh Hill and Michael Hoomanawanui also played season highs for snaps and percentages, with Hill on the field for 37 snaps (64 percent) and Hoomanawanui getting 28 snaps (48 percent). Those two are primarily blockers, and receiving-first tight end Coby Fleener played just 14 snaps (24 percent).
The Saints are expected to re-sign Kuhn on Monday, but after cutting him to make room for cornerback depth, coaches found ways to be creative with their run blocking absent a fullback.
Saints snap counts vs. Panthers. Much more rotation with the defensive ends. pic.twitter.com/FMkYoiGnoN
— Josh Katzenstein (@jkatzenstein) September 25, 2017
Defensive backs: Kenny Vaccaro 59 (100 percent), P.J. Williams 58 (98 percent), Marcus Williams and Ken Crawley 57 (97 percent), Vonn Bell 36 (61 percent), De’Vante Harris 7 (12 percent).
Vaccaro returned from last week’s benching to his typical every-down role, and the Saints leaned more on three-safety sets, presumably a way to counter Carolina’s run game and big receivers. Crawley filled in well for Marshon Lattimore…
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