Based on Sean Payton’s description, it sounds like the Saints view Mike Gillislee as that guy.
“I think the vision is a first- and second-down runner that is giving (us) hard yards,” Payton said of Gillislee during a Monday morning teleconference. “He’s a guy that can be physical. He can handle a workload.”
The Saints signed Gillislee on Sunday in a move that was hardly surprising after he was cut by the New England Patriots. After the Saints trimmed the roster on Saturday to 53 players, including placing Ingram on the reserve/suspended list, the team had just two legitimate tailbacks with Kamara and rookie Boston Scott. The other running backs on the team are Trey Edmunds, who worked this summer at fullback and is primarily a special teams guy, and fullback Zach Line.
Cutting Jonathan Williams looked like a surprise move because he appeared to have the kind of running style the Saints were looking for in an Ingram replacement, but the team obviously preferred the opportunity to sift through the cut players around the league.
The 27-year old Gillislee brings ample experience to the Saints’ backfield. He’s had at least 100 carries each of the past two years, 2017 with the New England Patriots and 2016 with the Buffalo Bills, and having experience on four different teams — he started with the Miami Dolphins in 2013 and was briefly on the Arizona Cardinals practice squad in 2015 — should help him adjust quickly to the Saints offense.
“He’s pretty sharp, and I think in a short period of time, he’ll get up to speed,” Payton said.
Still, as the Saints prepare for Week 1, it’s unclear how substantial a role he could have when the season begins Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
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