Former LSU lineman Will Clapp pushed into starting role for Saints with Peat out 6 weeks

Glenn Guilbeau
The Daily Advertiser
New Orleans Saints Will Clapp (64) lines up on the line of scrimmage in the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Minnesota Vikings in New Orleans, Friday, Aug. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

METAIRIE — Last summer, former LSU guard Will Clapp was not given a great chance of making the New Orleans Saints' roster.

Now, the seventh round pick of the 2018 NFL Draft is expected to start at left guard on Sunday when the Saints (7-2) play at Tampa Bay (3-6) at noon on FOX because of a broken forearm suffered last Sunday by regular left guard Andrus Peat against Atlanta that is expected to keep him out for six weeks.

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"It's definitely different," Clapp said Wednesday. "You go from the Jumbo package (for short yardage) to situational stuff to you're playing every play. And you've just got to be prepared for it."

The New Orleans native out of Brother Martin High started three seasons at LSU from 2015-17 and was an All-Southeastern Conference selection in 2016 and '17, but he played in just three games last season with one start in the regular season finale. And that start was because the Saints did not need to win as they had already clinched the No. 1 seed in the playoffs.

Clapp has already proven to be a valuable backup.

"I try to do everything I can during the week to be ready for that and just have to do a better job," Clapp said.

Saints quarterback Drew Brees was sacked six times, often up the middle, Sunday in a 26-9 loss at home to then-1-7 Atlanta as Clapp struggled at times in relief of Peat, who left the game in the second quarter.

"Of course, it's difficult," Brees said Wednesday of the loss of Peat, who made the Pro Bowl in 2018 in his fourth season after being picked by the Saints in the first round in 2015 out of Stanford. "He's been a starter for what, five years now? And he's been one of the main components there with the front."

Clapp played a season-high 49 snaps in relief of Peat.

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"Every season, you're going to have guys that go down for a period of time. You hope not too long. And I'm confident with the guys we have to fill in and do the job," Brees said.

"In the NFL, one snap can change everything," Clapp said. "We're in a two-minute drive, and all of a sudden, Andrus had to come out. And I was in the rest of the game. That's just how you've got to prepare every week."

One of the reasons Clapp has stuck around is his versatility. He can play either guard and center, which is what he did at LSU.

"Yeah, I can do whatever the team needs me to do," he said. "That's what I'm here for - to play guard or center or whatever it is."

Clapp spent most of 2018 on the scout team before he was thrown onto the field in week 14 at Carolina when starting left tackle Jermon Bushrod left the game with an injury. Peat moved to left tackle with Clapp taking over at left guard. 

"I would say I feel more prepared than last year," Clapp said. "I've had another year in the system, more confidence, more seasoning. just learning from the other guys."

Other injury notes

In addition to Peat, starting cornerback Marshon Lattimore, who left the Falcons game on Sunday with a hamstring injury, did not practice Wednesday, and neither did kick returner Deonte Harris, who also has a hamstring injury. Starting linebacker Demario Davis (hamstring) practiced on a limited basis. Fullback Zach Line (knee) was also limited at practice.

Wide receiver Keith Kirkwood practiced Wednesday after missing most of the season with a hamstring injury suffered in the second week of the season. He could return by week 13 against San Francisco on Dec. 8.