New Orleans Saints running back Latavius Murray (28) during training camp practice at the Ochsner Sports Performance Center.

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Several Saints will see familiar faces in preseason opener against Vikings

Amos Morale III
August 09, 2019 - 10:59 am

It’s always nice to see a few familiar faces.

That was exactly the case for offensive lineman Nick Easton, who signed with the Saints as a free agent earlier this year. 

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When Easton reported to Oschner Sports Performance Center for New Orleans’ offseason workouts, he was greeted by two of his former teammates — running back Latavius Murray and return specialist Marcus Sherels. Both of those players had also signed with the Saints during free agency after spending the previous season with the Minnesota Vikings.

Those three will see many more familiar faces Friday night as the Saints open preseason play against Minnesota at 7 p.m. in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. 

In addition to Murray, Sherels and Easton, Saints quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and fullback Zach Line will also be facing some of their former teammates Friday night.

Saints coach Sean Payton said he thought it was just a coincidence that New Orleans roster features so many former Vikings.

“(Minnesota head coach) Mike (Zimmer) and I are close friends,” he said. “We worked together for three years in Dallas. There's that old saying misery loves company and we were both challenged by (Bill) Parcells to be real good coaches. 

“He's a close friend, but a lot of it I think is more coincidence. Latavius (Murray) is a guy that we valued and we needed a running back, if we were to lose Mark (Ingram). 

“Then you get to some other positions. (such as) Nick Easton’s position. A lot of it has to do with just timing.” 

The three former Minnesota players the Saints signed in the offseason each filled a need as the Saints looked to find a capable backup running back to star Alvin Kamara in Murray, fill the void left by center Max Unger’s retirement with Easton and improve the punt return unit which was in the bottom half of the NFL with 6.5 yards per return with Sherels who averaged rougly 12 yards per punt return last season.

Many of the former Viking players said they haven’t given much thought to why there were so many former Minnesota players on the Saints roster, but are instead focused on helping their current team improve.

“It was great, like day-one, to see a couple familiar faces,” Easton said. “But by now we are all pretty integrated. We are Saints now.” 

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