One of the stars of the Saints 2018 preseason, running back Jonathan Williams has been cut and replaced with Dwayne Washington. Lessons learned.Here’s a valuable lesson we all should have learned by now but about which we still need to be reminded on a yearly basis apparently: Preseason success doesn’t mean a thing. Saints fans and running back Jonathan Williams were reminded of that on Friday, Sep. 28, when the team cut ties with Williams and brought up Dwayne Washington from the practice squad to take his place.Like most of those in the media covering the Saints, and like Saints fans in general, we thought Jonathan Williams was going to be the answer to missing Mark Ingram throughout the month of September as he serves his four-game suspension. In preseason, Williams led all rushers not named Taysom Hill as the Saints auditioned Ingram’s potential replacements.Through four preseason games he put up 31 carries for 124 yards and two touchdowns for a respectable four yards per carry average. But the vast majority of that workload came against other teams’ second and third stringers. And that is where we get an unrealistic perspective on a player’s talent.Same thing happened last season with rookie defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad who is now with the Indianapolis Colts. In his rookie campaign, Muhammad reeled off four sacks in preseason action in 2017 and was seen as a potential rising star. But neither of these players, Williams or Muhammad, found anything remotely resembling success once they saw the field in regular season action.So far, in 2018, Williams had touched the ball four times in limited action. Three runs for zero yards and one catch for one yard. That comes out to a .25 yards per touch average. Not even a foot. That is quite literally a nine inch per touch average.That’s how big a difference preseason is from regular season. Even for the starting units it’s a different game. Different tempo, different play calling, everything more limited and dialed back. Unless you’re the New England Patriots.So both of those stars of preseasons past are not gone and the Saints elevated Dwayne Washington from the practice squad on Friday to see if he can provide some punch behind Alvin Kamara. For a week at least until Ingram comes back.At 6-foot-1 and 223-pounds, Washington looks the part. But in his third NFL season, he hasn’t been terribly productive when given his chances. In two years with the Detroit Lions he had 110 carries for 309 yards and 12 catches for 76 yards. But that time has been primarily in backup roles. Obviously the Saints have seen enough from him in practice to feel he has a better chance of producing than Jonathan Williams did. Next: Five keys to a Saints Week 4 win over Giants Washington has been with the team throughout the regular season on the practice squad so he should have enough of a handle on the offense to get some touches against the Giants on Sunday. Whether he can do anything with the opportunity is another question. But we’ve seen nothing from Mike Gillislee so anything may be an upgrade.
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