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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
John Sigler

Kool-Aid McKinstry will compete in the slot and out wide for Saints

New Orleans Saints head coach Dennis Allen confirmed what we’ve been suspecting for rookie cornerback Kool-Aid McKinstry. The Alabama product will compete with his veteran teammates to carve out a role over the summer, whether that means lining up in the slot or out wide.

The Saints’ nickel corner plays a ton of snaps in Allen’s defense. Allen runs more nickel and dime personnel with five or six defensive backs on the field than many teams around the league, and that’s a role he sees McKinstry potentially thriving in despite his limited experience (just 28 of his 2,199 career snaps played at Alabama).

“I see him competing in that spot, along with the outside corner position,” Allen said. “And so, I don’t really see anybody just being a nickel-only. I see that position being a dual-position player. Whether it’s nickel-safety, nickel-corner, we don’t have anybody on our team that’s just a nickel only.”

Allen prefaced this by saying that last year’s nickel, Alontae Taylor, would still be the starter if the Saints had a game this week. He saw Taylor take his lumps just like everyone else — no defensive back allowed more catches and yards from the slot in 2023 — and Allen even benched Taylor twice down the stretch. But he’s willing to give the young player some grace for essentially learning on the job. He’s pleased with Taylor’s confidence level and better understanding of his assignments after taking time to review the tape.

“He’s a talented player. And, look, I would say to be too harsh on him for his performance last year I think would be unfair. You’re talking about a young guy that’s basically playing a position that he hadn’t really played. Those things take a little bit of time to get a feel for. And I think you’ll see an improved player in that area this year,” Allen finished.

The Saints have four starting-quality cornerbacks between Taylor, McKinstry, Marshon Lattimore and Paulson Adebo, so this means someone will be coming in off the bench. Last year’s fourth cornerback Isaac Yiadom still played 517 defensive snaps, so whoever that is will still be getting plenty of opportunities to make a play.

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