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Sep

09

Lance Moore x Pierre Thomas’s HOF Induction Celebration – 16 x 23 – Saturday, September 15th at 8pm

Champagne Room at Apres
608 Fulton St, New Orleans

• Music • Raffle • Silent Auction
• Hors d’oeuvre • ENVŌG Photo Booth
• Cigars in Courtyard from FELLOW

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Sep

09

Tickets on sale for Saints Hall of Fame Induction and Gala for Moore, Thomas, Hebert

Tickets are now available for the 30th annual Saints Hall of Fame Induction and Gala.

The event is set for Friday, Sept. 14 from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. at Club XLIV and Encore at Champions Square.

New Orleans Super Bowl heroes Lance Moore and Pierre Thomas will be formally inducted into the Saints Hall of Fame while long-time Saints director of photography Michael C. Hebert will receive the Joe Gemelli Fleur de Lis Award.

New Orleans Saints alumni from around the country will attend, providing a great opportunity to meet them and obtain autographs and pictures.

A gala will follow, catered by 27 restaurants and caterers providing outstanding food.

Click here for more info.

Sep

09

Sideline Pass – Jennifer Hale

Come out and help Jennifer Hale’s Sideline pass…

Educating and empowering young women to become strong, confident and successful future leaders in a variety of fields.
invitation2

Click here to get your ticket

Sep

09

Nobody saw this coming: Saints dealt worst opening loss of Payton-Brees era

No one saw this coming.

I didn’t. You didn’t. The experts predicting a New Orleans Super Bowl run didn’t. And safe to say, the Saints didn’t.

A 48-40 setback. To the Tampa Bay Bucs. At home.

Losses don’t get much worse than this.

It wasn’t so much what the Bucs did as how they did it that made this setback so dispiriting for the Saints and their legion of loyal fans. They embarrassed the Saints and stunned a sellout crowd by piling up 529 yards and a franchise-record-tying 48 points.

It was the second most points ever allowed by the Saints in an opening game and tied for the seventh most allowed in the history of the franchise.

Read more here

Sep

08

Saints, Drew Brees don’t have time to waste another season with a slow start

METAIRIE, La. — Coach Sean Payton didn’t need to hear the end of the question.

When a reporter started to mention the New Orleans Saints haven’t won a season opener since …

“It’s been a while,” Payton interrupted. “We just went through the numbers [in a team meeting].”

Specifically, it has been five years since the Saints last won a season opener in 2013. And, yes, players said, it was a big talking point during Payton’s first meeting with the team this week — with a whole power-point display and everything.

Read more from Mike Triplett ESPN Staff Writer

Aug

21

PRACTICE? WE TALKING ABOUT PRACTICE?

SAINTS LOOK TO GAUGE PROGRESS LEADING UP TO REGULAR SEASON DRESS REHEARSAL

by Gus Kattengell / @gkatt_17

The New Orleans Saints are out in sunny California for the next couple of days as they will practice against and then play the L.A. Chargers in a nationally televised preseason game Saturday night.

Wednesday and Thursday the teams will practice at the Chargers training camp facility in Costa, Mesa, CA. Saints head coach Sean Payton and Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn were on the same staff in Dallas under Bill Parcells in 2005 and that familiarity perhaps led to a good experience last year when both teams held joint practices before a preseason game. Lynn this week called last year’s workouts “nice, clean, good hard work” and perhaps more importantly “no fighting”. Keeping tempers in check is something Payton feels is key. “I think it’s important. Both teams have the same interest, you know? In other words, we’re trying to improve, we’re also trying to make the right decisions relative to our rosters and be healthy coming away from the practices and the games,” says Payton on the importance of getting good clean work in. “It’s just being smart and understanding what the common goal is. I think we can compete, play hard and I felt like a year ago that happened. Anthony [Lynn] and I of course worked together before (in Dallas) and so we’re looking forward to it.”

As for what coach Payton is looking for in the workouts? “Well look when you get a chance to practice with another team you get different formations offensively, different type of schemes defensively, different system and our experience last year with them was really good. It was competitive, and those guys do a good job, our guys practiced hard on both teams. I think it’s a good workweek.”

Many national NFL analysts are predicting the Chargers to be a playoff team in the AFC. “Without studying the roster yet, I know Anthony and those guys have high expectations in their division, rightfully so,” Payton says of the Chargers talent. “They’ve got a quarterback that’s been successful throughout the course of his career. Their defense played extremely well last year and offensively, I think they were the top passing team in the league. So yes, I think there are two similar teams with the same aspirations and we have a chance to work with each other for a few days and then play again.”

The practices begin noon central time so that’s when we can expect coverage to begin. Over the next few days here are a list of players and or battles that I think Saints fans should want to see positive stories on, tweets about or mentioned in post practice packages in local sportscasts.

OFFENSE

QB DREW BREES: Brees has had his work cut out for him this training camp against a stingy and opportunistic defense. Safety Marcus Williams is one a few secondary members that at times have made Brees snap off his chin strap angrily, clap his hands in disgust or utter very un-Brees-like language. Brees is working with a fairly young and inexperienced group and when you add three new potential pass catchers in Cam Meredith, Tre’Quan Smith and Ben Watson to the offense it’s going to take time on task to get a rhythm going. Brees hasn’t played in the first two preseason games and following last week’s performance under center it sure feels like it’s important for the Saints offense to have a solid scoring drive doesn’t it? Brees during a joint practice with the Patriots said at the time that at this point in his career he gets more out of joint workouts then in a game. I look for super competitive Brees this week as he tunes it up for the regular season. After Saturday night it’ll be September 9 before we seem him on a field in game action against.

WR MICHAEL THOMAS: Thomas is a beast and has been ridiculous at camp. He may at times during the joint practices line up against All-Pro cornerback Casey Hayward. Thomas is also a L.A. native so there that added element.

WR CAMERON MEREDITH: It had to be a special moment last week for Meredith who played in his first game since suffering a season ending knee injury last preseason. He was happy he said afterwards to get hit and get that out of the way. Meredith was only targeted once and it was on the opening drive when Hill fired a hot pass that went through his hands. The pass could have had some touch but no doubt receivers coach Curtis Johnson wasn’t hearing that as it’s a pass that needs to be caught. I’m giving Meredith a benefit of the doubt despite a few Colby Fleener comparisons already I’m seeing being made on social media. Meredith is still getting back to 100% health wise and players deal with the mental return to health differently. You’ve seen what he can bring at times. To me it’s about showing it consistently. I think this is a big week for him to show up in these practices and have at least 1-3 catches on Saturday night.

RB BOSTON SCOTT: Scott in Jacksonville had one carry and almost a touchdown as he was stopped just shy of the goal line. The week leading into the Cardinals game the back politely shared with local media he’d enjoy a few more carries if coach Payton saw fit to provide and when they came last Friday he didn’t disappoint. Scott had 6 carries for 28 yards and once again did well in the return game with 3 returns for 87 yards. “He had two plays that stood out. I think that is the strength of his game right now and he is still working in the return area of it and he is still working within the framework of protection,” Payton said evaluating Scott’s game. “That’s something that he needs work on but he’s pretty good. He’s done a good job when we’ve handed him the ball and that’s kind of what we saw in college. I think he has good balance. I think he has good vision and good short area quickness. He can get to the edge pretty fast.” Let’s see if Scott is awarded more carries this Saturday. He could help his case by having solid practices on Wednesday and Thursday.

WR TRE’QUAN SMITH: The rookie receiver just looks like the team’s second best receiver doesn’t he? Is that a good or bad thing? Good in that if that’s the case then you once again got a steal in the third round but bad perhaps in that he’s better then a pair of veterans in Meredith and Ginn? I’m not ready to feel that way simply because I think it speaks more to the abilities Smith has rather then him being better to inferior talent. Smith is strong, fast and seems to be able to run every route in the route tree. That’s why I feel he’s the second best receiver. “He’s progressing well. I’m encouraged. He’s receiving a lot of work at the ‘Z’. You see strong hands. You see him blocking. I think he’s progressing well.”

The fact that Smith has seemed to earn the trust of Brees could make one remember Michael Thomas’s rookie season where it felt like at this point you could see the potential. “They’re different type receivers and yet I would say we are seeing the guy pick things up pretty quickly,” Payton says when comparing Thomas and Smith at this point in their rookie training camps. “So there are some similarities. I do feel like he’s having a good camp. We felt the same about Mike a couple years ago. The key is to keep giving him the reps at what we think he’s going to be doing in the game and reduce some of the variables. But he’s bright and he’s a big target. He can run. So he’s doing well.” Let’s see how he does this week. I don’t know about you but I’m looking forward to seeing his growth.

SAINTS OFFENSIVE LINE VS CHARGERS DEFENSIVE LINE: The Saints trotted out their full healthy offensive line for the first time this season last Friday in the Cardinals game. The opening drives while ending in turnovers saw running backs Mark Ingram and Jonathan Williams gash the Cardinals on the ground. We’ve yet to see a good test in pass protection up to this point and that should change this week. “It’s a good pass-rush team, both of those guys, [Joey] Bosa and [Mark] Ingram played last night,” Payton said back on Sunday following practice about facing the Chargers pass rush. “We saw some of that game on TV, but those guys played really good football especially as the season went on last year. I think it’ll be good work for us.” How will the Saints beef fair against a solid Chargers defensive front and hold off key pass rushers when trying to throw the ball?

DEFENSE

MARCUS DAVENPORT: The rookie first round pick has been hampered by groin injury and has missed the first two-preseason games. With last week’s injury to Alex Okafor, it’s key for Davenport to start getting back on the field. “It’s just about the assignment. He’ll know he’s been at practice and in the meetings,” Payton said of Davenport’s road back to playing football. “It is just making sure he’s 100 percent. But I anticipate that happening this week. I anticipate him being able to work this week and receive some playing time.” Davenport has talent as at times this camp you’ve seen it, but it’s been brief. Terron Armstead has been providing daily humbling lessons and you can only learn so much in a classroom. Davenport needs snaps. This could be a big week for him if he is able to get back on the field and show up in the workouts and game.

CB MARSHON LATTIMORE: Lattimore had two interceptions in the last full practice the team had and may have had another depending on video replay. Lattimore loves competition and last week spoke about the opportunity to face Pro-Bowl receiver Keenan Allen this week. This battle should be a fun one to watch.

S MARCUS WILLIAMS: Williams has been the star of training camp for media in the local media covering camp daily. Williams has picked off Brees several times and seems to be at the right place at the right time. Can he make plays this week against Phillips Rivers?

DT SHELDON RANKINS: Rankins said earlier in training camp that he left some plays on the field last season. This camp he’s shared first unit snap with David Onyemata as his progression has been solid. Rankins isn’t concerned about the rotation as he sees it as something that can keep the unit fresh. Still he told reporters he vowed to be better this season. Let’s see if he stands out this week.

Aug

17

Saints vs Cardinals Preview

SAINTS SEEK PROGRESS AS SEASON OPENER IS 23 DAYS AWAY
by Gus Kattengell / @gkatt_17

It’s been a little over seven months since Who Dats were able to cheer their black and gold inside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. January 7 was the last game played on NOLA soil, a 31-26 Wild Card Playoff win over the Carolina Panthers. It was the final game of an unexpected season that has bred into one of high expectations.

Preseason kicked off for the Saints with a 24-20 win at Jacksonville. The start of which well wasn’t exactly what many fans were expecting. Jacksonville’s first two drives produced 132 yards of offense to go with 10 first downs. So when asked this week about what he’d like to see improve from the defense in game 2, linebacker Demario Davis stated what you’d expect. “Everything. We can always get better. Better in the running game, better in the pass game, better situational football, third-down in the backfield, red zone. There’s too many situations where you can always get better at everything,” said Davis. “I start with myself individually, what areas I can work on to get better. Game-to-game and as a unit we have to do the same.”

12 years in the NFL has given receiver Ted Ginn Jr. plenty of experience on how to look at the transition from week one to week two of the preseason. So what’s the biggest objective? “Don’t make the same mistake. That’s really it. Don’t make the same mistake man,” says Ginn. “Be on your P’s and Q’s and just leaning how to work for the next man next to him.”

Friday night Arizona comes to town looking to build off of a preseason opening win themselves a 24-17 win over the Chargers at home. The Cardinals had a 2017 season that saw them finish 8-8 and see the departure of head coach Bruce Arians to retirement. Steve Wilks makes the move from Carolina’s defensive coordinator to head coach and his first big job is find his signal caller. Quarterback is their biggest question mark entering the season as Chad Kanoff, Mike Glennon, Sam Bradfor and rookie Josh Rosen, who was the 10th overall pick, all are competing for the job. Bradford last week was 1-1 for 6 yards. Glennon was 207 for 11 yards and Rosen was 6 of 13 for 41 yards while Kanoff went 3-5 for 66 yards and a touchdown.

The Saints are favored by three and a half points for those planning a quick trip to the Mississippi gulf coast. Kick off is set for 7p.

AREAS TO KEEP AN EYE ON

DEFENSIVE STARTERS

You got the sense that since the Jacksonville game defensive players have been reminded a few times about areas of play in that game that were not up to head coach Sean Payton’s expectations. “Just ok. Just ok,” Payton said when asked about his team’s tackling in the game. “That first drive, everyone had their nachos, their hot dogs, their coke and they were on to the freaking churros in those 15 plays.” Let’s be honest if we judged on how social media was handling the opening Jaguar drives the 2018 would be over and the Saints defense would be well on its way to being ranked 32nd in the NFL. Needless to say how the starting unit performs to open the game will be something to keep an eye on immediately. I’m sure the warm home crowd may help write a different start to this one.

RIGHT DEFENSIVE END

The Saints had a scare this week when Alex Okafor went down with an injury in Wednesday’s practice. 1st round pick Marcu Davenport has miss some time due to a groin injury and was just starting to get back on the field when the Okafor injury occurred. Reports say Okafor suffered a sprained knee, bone bruise and sprained ankle. No timetable has been given for his return. It would be shocking to see Davenport play on Friday since he just began practicing again so we’ll see Al-Quadin Muhammad, perhaps Trey Hendrickson, Jayrone Elliot, Mitchell Loewen, or maybe even see Hau’oil Kikaha, who’s been moved to linebacker go back down to the line. The good part is Davenport should be fully healthy and have some snaps under his belt before the season opener and Okaor will be back at some point. In the meantime, yea it’s about finding the depth at that right defensive end position.

BACK UP QB

Tom Savage led a pair of scoring drives at Jacksonville with those being a field goal and a touchdown as he finished the night 10 of 14 for 70 yards. Following the game he felt the first three drives should have resulted in touchdowns. Coach Payton says his main evaluation of a quarterback’s success is his ability to get the team in and out of the huddle and move the team up and down the field scoring points. So in that, Savage accomplished that task but also missed on a few possible big plays.

Taysom Hill went 8 of 9 for 72 yards and rushed 7 times for 52 yards including a touchdown. Hill showed that athletic ability coach has raved about. This week he expressed the desire to take reps with the starters as a gauge to his growth going against players as he said “that play regularly on Sundays.”

I believe both are on the roster. Savage is in due to his starting experience and Hill due to his potential but added value on special teams. I have to believe if or when Payton feels Hill is close to being the back up to Brees you’d imagine Hill would stop being on so many special teams plays?

5TH RECEIVER POSITION

The Saints have the potential to really be set and deep at receiver this season with Michael Thomas, Ted Ginn Jr, Cameron Meredith and rookie Tre’Quan Smith. During OTAs and into the beginning of training camp you had Brandon Coleman who was injured, Travin Dural, Tommy Lee Lewis, Austin Carr and two young guys in Keith Kirkwood and Eldridge Massington that had some nice size. Well Coleman was released due to injury in that he was going to need time to heal and the team needed the roster spot. Dural broke his arm during a practice and was placed in I.R. and Massington was released. Tommy Lee Lewis looked to really benefit but suffered an injury the week leading into the Jacksonville game and only returned this past Monday. Payton then brought in veterans Michael Floyd and Brandon Tate.

Kirkwood almost because of the lack of depth but also because he earned it has been working with the ones. Kirkwood was targeted twice and caught both passes intended for him. Carr had no targets or catches. So I guess what I’m getting at is that a position in which I could see a real battle for spots is almost turning in to just who WILL be the fifth receiver? Tate and Lewis can play the dual role of receiver and returner, while Kirkwood has what seems to be the Saints size preference. It’ll be interesting to see Friday night, which receiver not named Thomas, Ginn Jr, Meredith or Smith steps up and makes some plays.

RUNNING BACK

Mark Ingram took advantage on the playtime in Jacksonville picking up 23 yards on 7 carries and scoring a touchdown. Those snaps showed what the Saints will miss come the first four games of the regular season while Ingram is off in suspension land. The search has been on as to who replaces or picks up his slack. I have said Jonathan Williams seems to me to be the back that stands out at practice. 4 carries for 26 yards hardly seems like a busy load but the late game carries didn’t go to waist and he scored a touchdown. Payton praised his camp this week and I feel you’ll see number 32 much earlier than the final stages of the fourth quarter on Friday. Will some one else take advantage of his opportunities?

RETURNERS

I’m just going to go ahead and tell you that this will be on my areas to watch list until coach says we have a “Bachelor” winner. Payton last week went with Boston Scott and Brandon Tate. Scott had 3 kick returns for 78 yards and had a long of 35 yards. Tate had 2 returns for 59 yards and a long of 36. Will we see others given a chance as Payton prior to the Jacksonville game hinted that we wouldn’t see all of the candidates in the game and it could be more like a duo tryout per game.

PLAYERS TO KEEP AN EYE ON

LB DEMARIO DAVIS #56: Wednesday following practice Davis was asked about his intimidating appearance as he is listed at 6-2 248. His response is one you’d expect a linebacker to give. “Our coach always says, ‘Your only advantage on defense is fear.’ I think that’s the way you play the game, you want to inflict fear into your opponent by the way that you play not just by the way that you look. My biggest thing is when I turn the tape on I want to jump out and I want them to watch 56 the whole game. If they don’t, they’ll have a long day.”

Davis then went on to say one of the best quotes ever when asked how exactly he goes about instilling fear into opponents. Does he growl or something? “No man, It’s all in the play. It’s all in the play and it’s not about what you say but about what you do,” Davis says. “When they look at the tape, they know who real ones are and that’s what I’m trying to do. When I’m playing an opponent on the field or anybody, it’s a challenge in the moment but I’m thinking about the next opponent and the opponent after that. I want to hit this person so hard, the next three people who watch the tape are really intimidated by it.”

Davis is playing the weakside linebacker role and when asked if he like it or preferred that position he went full martial arts philosopher. “I am flexible so I just try to adapt to my environment. It is like what Bruce Lee says, ‘Be like water.’ You put it in a cup, it fits to the cup, you pour it out and it goes everywhere. I try to adapt to my environment.”

Uhm if he plays like I think he may play well then Saints fans are going to LOVE this guy.

WR TRE’QUAN SMITH #10: Smith led the team in reception with 4 for 48 yards and made a nice grab on a high throw that led to a score. Payton after the game though pointed out that getting line up correctly and other aspects of pre snap duties were lacking. Let’s see if the rookie can learn from that and make an exciting play for the home fans. He’s fun to watch.

WR BRANDON TATE #87: Tate didn’t have a reception or target in the first game at Jacksonville. Perhaps due to his timing as his late arrival at Saints training camp probably hasn’t allowed him to fully get a handle on the playbook. Make no mistake Payton brought him here to compete for the role of kick returner but the 5th receiver spot isn’t as concrete as it perhaps was at the start of camp. Tate this past week of practice has made some nice plays at receiver including a catch in the end zone in traffic. Does he get more snaps Friday night at receiver?

CB JUSTIN HARDEE #34: Hardee was on my players to keep an eye on last week and he stays there this week for two reasons. One, the team bid adieu to De’Vante Harris after the Jags game when he was flagged twice under two minutes to play, so there’s one less corner to worry about. Two perhaps more importantly is the fact this week it was revealed that Marhson Lattimore has sort of taken the former receiver under his wing. “Tough love” is how Hardee described the relationship where Lattimore will have criticism when deserved and praise when earned. Hardee has good size and athletic ability and seems to be trending upward as camp progresses.

RB BOSTON SCOTT #30: Scott was disappointed that only got one carry in the game but it was almost a touchdown as he got stopped short of the goal line. Scott’s chances at making this team will improve greatly if can return the ball well in special teams. That said if he does get more handoffs it could be his shot to show the moves and quickness he’s displayed at practice at times that’s made starters on defense whiff.

NEXT UP

The Saints will have their final open practice of training camp on Saturday when the take to the field 4 to 5:30 pm. Next week the Saints will leave for California early as they are scheduled to practice twice against the Chargers before next Saturday’s preseason game.

Gus is the host of the Sports Hangover and can be heard weekdays on 100.3 FM ESPN New Orleans Monday through Friday 12 to 3pm.

Aug

14

Marcus Williams’ future too bright to dwell on ‘Minnesota Miracle’

  • Mike Triplett    ESPN Staff Writer

METAIRIE, La. — Marcus Williams would rather let his play do the talking as he tries to move past the “Minnesota Miracle.”

If Friday’s practice is any indication, that should work.

The New Orleans Saints’ second-year safety broke up a pair of Drew Brees passes on back-to-back plays during full-team drills on the second day of training camp — again flashing the type of playmaking ability that he demonstrated throughout his breakout rookie season.

But Williams knew that wasn’t what he would be asked about most after Friday’s practice.

Read more here.

Aug

08

NEW ORLEANS AT JACKSONVILLE: GAME PREVIEW

It’s go time! What to look for in the preseason opener
By Gus Kattengell / @gkatt_17

Thursday the preseason opener brings an end to the speculation and guessing part of how good the New Orleans Saints can be as it’s time to see what players can actually do in a game.

2017’s season has Saints fans excited, as excited as I’ve ever seen them not only in the Sean Payton era but also in franchise history. You’ve read and heard about how much talent and depth this team has over the past few weeks and months. All of that though comes without seeing a single meaningful snap and off of assumptions.

I understand that preseason success and failure doesn’t determine and at times really give an indication of the season to come but it can shine a light on areas of promise or concern.

A winning start is important for the Saints this season and in the past two seasons head coach Sean Payton has said winning mattered even in preseason. The open is against a team that is getting plenty of chatter nationally.

HIGH EXPECTATIONS VS HIGH EXPECTATIONS

Jacksonville was just as a surprise team in 2017 as the Saints were finishing the year 10-6 and winning the AFC South. The Jags in the post season beat Buffalo 10-6 in the Wild Card round, stunned the Steelers in Pittsburgh 45-42 and lost at New England in the AFC Championship game 24-20 in game in which they lead 17-10 entering the 4th quarter.

NFL analysts across the county predict Jacksonville to have just as good a chance at having a good season led by a stout young defense and by LSU’s Leonard Fournette on offense who rushed for 1040 yards in his rookie season to go with 9 TDs. Head Coach Doug Marrone, a former Saints assistant under Payton, has gone about this year like last by putting his team though grueling training camp practices.

I’m interested in seeing how the Saints stack up against a team that was a quarter away from the Super Bowl. I’m not talking starters against starters as I’m aware that many on both sides will wear ball caps instead of helmets but depth against depth.

Kick off is set for 6p.

AREAS TO KEEP AN EYE ON

DEFENSIVE DOMINANCE

The Saints have held 12 practices and you could argue the defense has won darn near all of the workouts, including Monday’s final practice of this game week. Whether it’s interceptions, pass blocks, strip fumbles, stuffing run plays, you name it as it seems as if the defense is doing the job. The plays being made also aren’t just from the starters but from players that this team will be looking at as key depth.

I’ll be looking to see the Saints defense shows the flow and hats to the ball, show the ability to break up pass plays even after their caught but not fully completed. Lastly the team has not had a live period in practice so the game will be the first time to judge how well the tackling can be. Jacksonville’s offense is not a pass happy offense so it’ll be interesting to see if the defense can be physical at stopping the run.

BACK UP QB

Let’s start by stating the obvious. Drew Brees gets injured to where he misses a handful of games or more this is not the same team. He’s a first ballot hall of fame quarterback. You don’t replace those. At best you deal with a loss like a damaged ship, keep it afloat and maybe even still manageable to stay in the fight. So that aside, there is a real possibility that a helmet malfunction, the flu, an injury during the game takes place and someone other then him needs to take a or a few snaps.

Tom Savage and Taysom Hill are battling for the back up role. Savage has starting experience where as Hill doesn’t. Payton this week said that when comparing the two you have to start with the fact that they are two different quarterbacks. Hill is the more athletic. Savage the more manager of the two. Hill throws darts. Savage gets the ball there and you’re counting on making the right reads. Hill to me brings one other element that goes with his athleticism. The ability to extend or even make a play with his legs. In practice we’ve seen broken plays turn into runs down the field gaining big yardage. We have even seen college style read option plays where he kept and took it into the endzone. Payton has long talked about wanting an almost dual threat QB. Before you balk at the notion you need only take a look in the Saints own division. Carolina’s Cam Newton is that and won a league MVP.

Philadelphia’s Caron Wentz is not just a pocket passer, nor is Jarod Goff with the Rams, Jimmy Garoppolo with the 49ers, Aaron Rodgers of the Packers all use their mobility. No one is saying that they are Michael Vick, but they are definitely stuck in stone in the pocket. With the potential the Saints defense has of keeping opposing offenses from putting up large amount of points and the potential the Saints offense has with young weapons at receiver and in the backfield, a quarterback needs to just not trip on the handoff. That’s Savage. Imagine if they have the ability to air it 50-70 yards down field on a dart on the run or elude a sack and find Kamara running out the backfield turning a sack into a first down and that’s what I think Hill can be. Now the deal is he has to go out and prove it. I still believe the Saints would like Hill to earn the job. He’s highly involved in special teams so he’s on the team. But Thursday will be his first chance his value is at quarterback and not slobber knocking returners on a punt or kickoff.
Sean Payton’s given us what to look for when either Savage or Hill is in the game. Can the team in and out of a huddle?. Pace. Rhythm. Can they move the team up and down the field and produce points? Can they run the offense and make plays? If neither shows the ability to do so by game 3 of the preseason they’ll be on the phone calling someone that can.

RUNNING BACK

Mark Ingram missing the first four games has this position group as a must watch for four games. Your Contestants for a role while he is away in suspension land are Jonathan Williams, Terrance West, Shane Vareen, Boston Scott and Trey Edmunds. Edmunds has seen a move to fullback which could be an indication. I’ve found myself writing #32 a lot during practice and that’s Williams’s number. West has had a play here and there and I’m eager to see the quickness and stop on a dime then go ability Scott has shown at times. Game speed and live action will be the determining factor in determining who stays and who goes. Something to note is that Ingram can do it all, run, catch out the backfield and more importantly pass protect. Which of the back can do all three or at least two of the three?

RETURNERS

Payton has called these players the Bachelor contestant. They are Alvin Kamara, Ted Ginn, Boston Scott, Brandon Tate, Tommy Lee Lewis. Kamara is a we need a home run call up in the return game as he’s far too valuable to use. Ginn is right there. Lewis has flashed here and there as a receiver but it’ll be his ability to return the ball that will earn him a roster spot. Scott can earn his spot here in the return game. West, Vareen and Williams have experience over Scott as just running backs. Tate brought in after the start of camp after Payton admonished the other returners will be given a chance to earn it.

PLAYERS TO KEEP AN EYE ON

WR TRE’QUAN SMITH #10: He has been one of the players of training camp that’s stood out. Smith has made plays since the start of camp that get you thinking uh oh did the Saints steal another playmaker in the third round? Smith has shown the ability to catch the ball smoothly, catch in traffic, catch it short take off and out run everyone. Smith has shown the ability to run on the snap, stop on a dime and make a big grab when the defense has the momentum and one of the plays of camp was his ability to go up and out jump a defender and bring the ball down and maintain it after he hits the ground. Can Smith do it in a game though? We’re about to find out and I have no question he will show what we’ve been seeing at practice.

TE DAN ARNOLD #85: Tight end is a thin position group right now thanks to injury. Ben Watson is on the team as is Josh Hill. To me after that the spots are up for grabs. Arnold is a converted WR and honestly, the guy is just catching everything. Not flashy size or speed but just solid.

CB JUSTIN HARDEE #34: The depth chart has Marshon Lattimore at RCB followed by rookie Natrell Jamerson and then Justin Hardee. Hardee a converted WR plays bigger then his 6-1 200 pound frame. He’s made some nice plays during practice and to me has some upside. Could a roster spot come down to Hardee and a draft pick? Payton’s gone with the better player in the past (Pierre Thomas vs Antonio Pittman).

RB BOSTON SCOTT #30: He’s just fun to watch at times. Scott is one of the smaller players on the field but one of the quickest as well and has put some sick moves on some of the best Saints defensive players. I’ve mentioned several times at practice that because of when he’ll play in the preseason games and against maybe not so good defenders, I expect Scott to have a play or two that will wow and get people talking. I mentioned earlier up top, his ability in the return game can really help his chances at making the team.

WR KEITH KIRKWOOD #18: Sometimes things happen to give you an opportunity and it sure feels like for Kirkwood it’s happening. Injuries to Travin Dural and Brandon Coleman have freed up snaps as those two are no longer with the team. At 6-3 210 the undrafted rookie free agent out of Temple is just consistently chugging along. Making a play here and there like Sunday at Tulane’s Yulman Stadium when he caught a pass from Brees in traffic in the endzone. Kirkwood has gotten snaps with the ones. Michael Thomas, Tre’Quan Smith, Cameron Meredith and Ted Ginn are your 4 locks at receiver. Who’s the fifth? Tate? Austin Carr? Kirkwood can help his cause with in game showings and special teams play.

NEXT UP

The Saints will have a brief closed practice on Friday afternoon before holding a pair of open practices over the weekend at the normal 8:50 to 11:40 schedule. Monday is a closed practice followed by a scheduled day off before the final open practice before preseason game number 2 Friday in the Dome against the Cardinals.

Gus is the host of the Sports Hangover and can be heard weekdays on 100.3 FM ESPN New Orleans Monday through Friday 12 to 3pm.

Aug

07

Sideline Pass Saints Watch Party

What’s up Who Dat Nation !! come out and see former Saints WR Robert Meacham!!! He’s going to be the Guest of Honor Thursday at Sideline Pass Saints Watch Party / Back To School Saints Pizza Party!

No ticket to buy… Just come meet Robert & watch the Saints’ 1st Game with us at Louisiana Pizza Kitchen Uptown! 
sidelinepass

 

Louisiana Pizza Kitchen Uptown will donate 25% of whatever you spend to our efforts to take underprivileged female athletes shopping for their back to school sports shoes & equipment!! — at Louisiana Pizza Kitchen Uptown (LPK – Uptown).

Just come eat, write “Sideline Pass” on your receipt & LPK will donate 25% of your purchase to our Back to School shopping trip for underprivileged female athletes!!!

Cant make the watch party? That’s ok- go eat at LPK on Carrollton ANYTIME Thursday, August 9, write “Sideline Pass” on your receipt & we get 25% of your check!