it wasn’t that long ago that the idea of Khalen Saunders making this team felt more like a long shot than a sure shot.
Saunders has always been a very impressive physical specimen, one of the single heaviest players on the team who is somehow light enough on his feet to do a backflip on command. He’s athletic and nimble and yet strong with significant size. Given his dominance in college at Western Illinois, it felt like a worthy bet for Veach to draft him as a project in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft.
Unfortunately, things just haven’t gone his way in the league so far. His rookie year was a. learning curve and an elbow injury robbed him of half of his sophomore season. Upon his return, Turk Wharton had passed him on the depth chart and it was clear he’d been crowded out. His own inconsistency and further injury last year only placed him lower on the team’s depth chart. This year, he looked like an outsider.
On Saturday, however, Saunders played like a man posssessed and that was also true of his play against the Bears in the first game of the preseason. He’s chasing down tackles. He’s shooting through gaps. He’s showing great instincts and playing smart in limited time and it’s easy to see that he’s a step above everyone else when he’s in the game. He clearly belongs.
Check out Saunders’ sack on Saturday:
Here’s another play of Saunders tracking down a running back in the backfield as he’s trying to get outside. Incredible!
Yes, there’s a tough call here to make with Chris Jones, Derrick Nnadi, Taylor Stallworth, Turk Wharton, Khalen Saunders, Matt Dickerson and Danny Shelton. However at this point, my money would be on one of the other names as a long shot.