Saints’ Taliese Fuaga Working At LT

The Saints, as expected, were among the teams which exited Day 1 of the 2024 draft with an offensive tackle. New Orleans added Taliese Fuaga with the No. 14 selection, and he is in position to see immediate playing time.

Fuaga logged 25 starts during his time at Oregon State, each of which were at right tackle. That could set him up to play that position with New Orleans depending on the health status of Ryan Ramczyk. The latter is dealing with a knee issue which has his 2024 availability in doubt, and missing time would pave the way for Fuaga (who has inked his rookie deal) to log first-team duties as a rookie.

The Saints face questions along the blindside as well, however. 2022 first-rounder Trevor Penning was benched last season, and veteran James Hurst retired in April. That left the team without an experienced left tackle option, as was the case when Andrus Peat (who, like Hurst, has spent time at both guard and tackle) signed with the Raiders. To little surprise, then, Fuaga has taken left tackle snaps during Saints offseason workouts.

“Starting off, we’re primarily going to work him on the left side,” head coach Dennis Allen confirmed (via’s Matthew Paras). “Then we’ll evaluate it as it goes. We haven’t made any decisions in terms of concrete decision, but yet, that’s where we’re going to start him right now… We’ll see how he does at this camp and then re-evaluate him after this camp.”

Penning has made six starts and 23 appearances to date, but his struggles this season (during which he ranked 65th out of 81 qualifying tackles in terms of PFF grade) forced the team to look elsewhere for left tackle responsibilities. The Northern Iowa product is under contract for two more years – or three, if the team exercises his fifth-year option next offseason. Doing so would be unlikely at this point, and a strong showing from Fuaga on the left side would not help Penning’s chances of remaining in the Saints’ long-term plans.

New Orleans also has free agent addition Oli Udoh as a left tackle option. The former Viking has 18 starts to his name, having seen time on the blindside as well as right guard. How he performs – along with the status of Ramczyk – will have an effect on Fuaga’s situation. It will be interesting to see how the latter fares at left tackle over the course of the offseason as the Saints try to assemble an effective, new-look offensive front.

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