The Saints have a very crowded backfield attempting to make the 53-man roster, and seventh-round pick Marcus Murphy has made his mark on the head coach during the preseason, as Sean Payton made a definitive statement about his status.
In response to a question, Payton responded talking about Murphy, writes Evan Woodbery of NOLA.com (via Twitter). “He’s making this team,” said the Saints coach.
If Payton is to be believed, and there is no reason he shouldn’t be, that would put Murphy squarely in the role of fourth running back. He won’t necessarily see the field much on offense, but he will handle returning duties for New Orleans. That kind of faith has written the book for some of the other tailbacks competing for a spot on the depth chart.
Mark Ingram is ingrained as the starter, and C.J. Spiller is expected to make the team as a notable free agent acquisition this offseason. Khiry Robinson looked like a good bet to make the team as a spell back, and he performed well when called upon the past two seasons.
That leaves Tim Hightower and Edwin Baker on the outside looking in. Both players have performed well this preseason, with the veteran Hightower impressing early in training camp with his abilities as a runner, receiver, and pass protector. The former Cardinal has struggled with injures, and if the Saints pass could be looking at his NFL mortality.
Baker scored a 45-yard touchdown in the preseason game today, which unfortunately for Payton led to a question about his chances of making the team. Payton misunderstood, leading to the statement about Murphy, according to Jeff Duncan of NOLA.com (via Twitter). He embarrassingly realized this later, and had to backtrack because it is highly unlikely Baker makes the team (via Twitter).