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Aug

26

Defense pitches second straight shutout, gives fans hope

By Gus Kattengell

The Black and Gold making a bit of history Saturday night as they shutout the Texans 13-0 to improve to 2-1 in the preseason. It was the first time the Saints shut out an opponent in the preseason since 2008 when they blanked the Bengals 13-0 in the third game of the preseason that year.

The shutout seemed in doubt late due to a Saints fumble inside the 30 but on 4th and 3, Adam Bighill and Obum Gwacham combined for a sack and the offense would run out the clock.

QUICK THOUGHTS

DE-FENSE. DE-FENSE. Saints fans have been hoping to cheer that in the Dome where once again it meant a big play was about to happen. A sack, a pick, a big pop, something positive as opposed to what it’s become over the past couple of seasons, a pleading cry of hope that the defense could hold them to just a field goal.

I know it’s preseason but the Saints defense has 16 sacks over three preseason games. They are also limiting teams to just 2.7 yards per run. You can say hey these games don’t matter but if the number were on the other side of things fans would be in panic mode once again about how poor the defense will be.

Saturday night they picked up four sacks, made by Adam Bighill, Raphael Bush, Darryl Tapp and Al-Quadin Muhammad. The defense also had 9 tackles for loss, 9 quarterback hits and 12 pass breakups. More importantly to me it’s coming from all three areas on the field the defensive front, the linebackers and the secondary.

Totally understand the fact that the Saints defense hasn’t faced Pro Bowl quarterbacks in Osweiler, Kellen Clemons and Tom Savage but it was exactly those caliber of quarterbacks in the past that went on to have player of the week performances against the Saints. I’m starting to have a hard time believing that things will be drastically different come the regular season, that the pass rushing, tackling and communication that we are seeing will stop. I’m not calling them the ’85 Chicago Bears but I’m pretty confident they won’t finish last in many categories as they’ve done the past few years.

ROOK UP: I’ve said that the success of the 2017 Saints will be heavily dependent on how the first and second year players perform. On the opening drive in which the Saints forced a three and out, three rookies in this year’s draft class got the start. LB Alex Anzalone , CB Marhson Lattimore and S Marcus Williams saw first series action and contributed with tackles or in Lattimore’s case a PBU to force a punt in third down. Defensive linemen Sheldon Rankins, Tyler Davidson are second year players who showed up in the game and rookie Al-Quadin Muhammad was the last player drafted back in April and he picked up his 3rd sack of the season.

OFFENSE: We finally got to see QB Drew Brees, RBs Mark Ingram and Adrian Peterson play and well you can tell that they were seeing their first action of the season. Brees finished the night 11 of 15 for 76 yards while Ingram gained just 9 yards on 4 carries and Peterson finished with 15 yardsa on 6 carries. I’m not concerned about how this offense will perform but Payton spoke after the game about how their lack of success on first and second downs didn’t help sustain drives.

BANGED UP: A pair of Saints linebackers went down in the game. Nate Stupar appeared to reach back for his hamstring as he was rushing Texans QB DeShaun Watson. Stupar slowly made his way to the locker room following the play. Manti Te’o appeared to take the brunt of a friendly fire hit on his left should or arm area. He stayed on the bench to finish watching the game.

GAME BALL

Saints defense. How can they not? They had several players stand out but I give it to the unit because you could see that preserving that shutout in the 4th quarter meant something. They’re may be something to that building a culture thing.

ATTA BOY

WR Tedd Ginn Jr: Ginn showed in just four plays tonight what he can bring to the table as far as speed and big play ability wise. He had three catches for 26 yards and an end around go for 24 yards that would have been longer if not for a black in the back.

HAVE A SEAT SON, WE NEED TO TALK

SAINTS OFFENSE: I’m having trouble signaling out a specific player that may need to have a chat with coach. I think thought the inconsistency and ability to score touchdowns when Brees was in was an issue. 1st and 2nd downs did not yield to 3rd and shorts.

LAST CALL: The Saints didn’t look outmatched against a playoff team. You didn’t watch tonight and say well the Saints have a long way to go to be a playoff team.

UP NEXT: The Saints will close the preseason on Thursday night in the Superdome against Baltimore. The regular season opens up on Monday September 11 at Minnesota.

Aug

26

Saints look to gauge where they are against Playoff team Saturday

The Saints make their 2017 home debut Saturday night in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome as they host the Houston Texans. New Orleans is coming off of a 13-7 win against the Chargers where the defense recorded eight sacks. Houston is also coming off of a win as they beat New England at home 27-23.

Both teams had joint practices on Thursday and Friday and since 2007 they have met every year in the preseason or regular season except for the 2014 season.
New Orleans is a 3.0 favorite.

THE ENEMY

Houston enters the 2017 season looking to win the AFC South for a third season in a row. The Texans finished 9-7 and hosted a Wild Card game against the Radiers and won 27-14.

Head coach Bill O’Brien name Tom Savage over rookie Deshaun Watson who was drafted with the 12th pick overall a move that required the Texans to move up 13 spots to grab him. O’Brien has led the Texans to three straight 9-7 season but has used eight different quarterbacks.

The Texans were the 29th ranked offense by being the 8th best rushing offense but 29th in passing. Houston was the top overall ranked defense in the NFL a season ago. Houston was ranked 12 in stopping the run and 2nd in stopping the pass.

HISTORY

The Texans lead the preseason series 5-4 after they beat the Saints 16-9, last year in Houston. The regular season is tied at 2-2 with the Texans winning the last meeting back in 2015 via a 24-6 victory.

HOW THE SOUTH IS WON: DIVISION IN ACTION

Carolina 2-1 @ Jacksonville 1-2 24-23 F
Arizona 1-2 @ Atlanta 0-2 -3.5
Cleveland 2-0 @ Tampa Bay 1-1 -3.5

STORYLINES

DEFENSE

A week ago the Saints defense recorded eight sacks against the Chargers getting those plays from the defensive line, linebackers and secondary groups. Thursday in the join practice the Saints once again saw excellent play from all three areas. DE Cam Jordan had a pair of sacks, LB A.J. Klein was all of the field and secondary saw several pass break ups and an interception by S Vonn Bell. Saints fans are hungry for a defense to finally be a defense. The Who Dats would love to see what we’ve been writing or talking about unfold before their eyes. I’m eager to see how the Saints do against rookie QB DeShaun Watson. I love this kid and was impressed with what I saw in the joint padded practice. The kid has a nice touch on the deep ball, can fling it when needed, looked smooth and more importantly has escapability.

OFFENSE

Drew Brees this week spoke as if he expects to play in the game and said that the key to how long he would play was based on how well the unit played. Brees hasn’t seen a snap in the first two-preseason games and said that the work he got against the Chargers in the joint practices outweighed any potential work he would have got in 12-15 snaps in the game.

Head coach Sean Payton even said it was important this week to get players that taste of live action. RB Adrian Peterson who hasn’t seen a preseason carry since 2011 says practices can only give you so much and that nothing compares to live action. Peterson said he gone about the week preparing as if he’s playing. RB Mark Ingram also hasn’t played and said he is ready to go if his number is called.

Regardless if Brees plays or not the Saints offense hasn’t looked good aside from a drive here or there or an Alvin Kamara carry. IF this is to be the final dress rehearsal for the season opener it would be nice to see the team have some scoring drives against last season’s number one overall ranked defense.

Look selfishly I was to see Brees play as I’m tired of poor quarterback play this preseason but after seeing Thursday’s practice I’m concerned for Drew’s well being. First round pick Ryan Ramczyk left practice early, and his replacements Bryce Harris and Khalif Barnes provided no resistance to Houston’s Jadaveon Clowney. In the end though you can’t play football with fear and a team that hasn’t reached the playoffs in three consecutive seasons and have put a huge emphasis on the start of the season probably have to play their top guys at least a series.

PLAYERS TO KEPP AN EYE ON

OFFENSE

OFFENSIVE LINE: The Texans per QB Drew Brees have one of if not the best front seven in the NFL. It’s a test no doubt and if they can do a solid job while say Brees is in there and the offense pick up some points, it’ll go a long way to adding confidence to a group that is waiting for starting cent Max Unger to return. Head coach Sean Payton had targeted Unger to play in this week’s game and in the preseason finale next Thursday against Baltimore.

WR MICHAEL THOMAS: Thomas is just solid and in the joint practice he made several good catches in traffic and or contested. The Texans had the second ranked passing defense a season ago and Thomas is the #1 receiver on the team. This should be a nice preview of maybe how teams will play him.

RB ALVIN KAMARA: It’s the third week in a row he is on the list for no other reason that he is exciting to watch. A 50-yard TD run against the Chargers a week ago, what will he do this week? Well at practice on Thursday he had a 60-yard TD run.

DEFENSE

LB A.J. KLEIN: Klein seems to look better literally every practice. In the joint workout he sealed holes, pressured the quarterback, wrapped up running backs immediately. Wednesday he had a fantastic PBU a good 40 yards down field covering TE Colby Fleener. He’s fun to watch as he directs, verbalizes and makes plays. He’s the player the Saints have needed in that position group for a very long time.

DE Cam Jordan: He hasn’t seen action yet and when he does you’ll know. Sacks in the joint workout, sacks at practice, pressures, runs stops, you name it #94 is doing it.

CBs P.J. WILLIAMS AND KEN CRAWLEY: 1st rounder Marshon Lattimore left practice on Thursday reportedly after feeling light headed. S Kenny Vaccaro then told the Advocate’s Nick Underhill that it’s tough to play with players that aren’t always on the field and that the team needs 4-5 guys that will be the guys to then work together in action so they can learn to play with one another. Kenny also said veteran Sterling Moore should be with the 1s, to me a mild call out to everyone else to step up their game. Who are the 2 starting corners come week 1?

NEXT UP

The Saints will play their final preseason game on Thursday against the Ravens.

Aug

20

A flash for 6 and a pressuring D snap 10-game preseason skid

By Gus Kattengell

The Saints snapped their 10-game preseason-losing streak by holding on to a 13-7 win over the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday night.

It may be just preseason but the win and how it was won has to have Who Dats feeling better on a Monday. RB Alvin Kamara got things going on the first play of the game as he would scamper for a 50-yard touchdown.

The defense continued to impress and more importantly despite the game getting close t the end the Saints found a way to finally win.

QUICK THOUGHTS

First thought is that this is a much-needed win for the Saints. Head coach Sean Payton alluded to it in the post game presser that the trip out west hadn’t exactly been a good one. In the only padded practice against he Chargers, the Saints by many accounts got whooped and Payton called for them to respond on Friday. Coach Sunday night said it was something he was looking for, to see if his team would meet the challenge of coming back with more energy.

I have been in locker rooms for at least 12 years professionally and collegiately. There is a very big difference in being in one that wins and one that doesn’t. Yes It’s preseason but not winning in the exhibition portion and then not really doing much winning in the regular season portion weighs on you. These guys put in a lot of time and sweat before they get to game day. You want to win. You want to feel good about your self and feel like you’re a part of something successful.

Could it be the Black and Gold may actually be able to stop some offenses this season from having career games? The Saints defense recorded 13 tackles for loss and picked up 8 sacks on the night. ManTai Te’o, A.J. Klein, Craig Robertson, Kenny Vaccaro, Obum Gawcham, Al-Quadin Muhammad, Alex Okafor, Ashaad Mabry and Sheldon Rankins made up those plays.

In two games the defense has 12 sacks, and yes I know it’s the preseason but that side of the ball hasn’t sacked anything but air the last couple of preseasons. Add an interception from LB Adam Bighill and the Saints defense actually has looked like a defense this preseason.

Defensively the Saints continue to show improvement, as you have to be impressed that once again DE Cam Jordan had the night off and still the opposing quarterback was pressured. The group of linebackers seems to not only be playing well but communication well with one another. It’s not often you see them out of position and unable to make plays, and that is something that has sorely been lacking.

Offensively it was another game and an yet another example of how wide the gap is between QB Drew Brees and everyone else. QB Garrett Grayson received second team snaps a week ago and watched Ryan Nassib get those as he came in after Chase Daniel. Daniel who started in place of Drew Brees will be able to run the offense if Brees can’t play. Let’s not mistake this, if Brees goes down it’s over. Oh and Brees’ successor is definitely not currently on this team.

GAME BALL

RB ALVIN KAMARA: Look the entire defense or certain members of the defense can get the game ball. I’m going with the rookie running back because in the short amount of minutes he’s played NFL football think about what he’s done.

Game one he break a run and give a Cleveland Browns defender a concussion as a reward for trying to tackle him and a few plays later breaks what looks like a sure tackle at the line of scrimmage and bounces it outside for a big gain and a first down.

Game two it took all of one play to upstage that with a 50 yard flash of a run on the left side for a touchdown where he showed initial patience, knowledge of play as he knew where the blocks of Ryan Ramczyk and Andrus Peat would be, and then vision as dodged a diving Charger player before turning on the jets to score. It would be the only touchdown of the game for the Saints. The play jumpstarted the team and had many on social media play Saints General Manager in insisting it was time to trade RB Mark Ingram. The Back caught a pass for 22 yards and ended up with 5 carries for 61 yards.

This backfield will be interesting to watch this season. We’ve yet to see Peterson although in practice he looks like he still has some life in his legs. If AP plays anything like the NFL’s leading rusher version, what does Ingram have to do to get touches? I say that because how do you NOT give Kamara touches. The kid is electric and is the type of complete back that I frankly can’t recall the team having in the Payton era at least.

ATTA BOY

LB MANTI TE’O: Returning to the team that drafted him, the free agent pick up was impressive as he showed the type of energy and play that is much needed on the Saints defense. Te’o led the team in tackles with nine tackles, seven of them being solo to go with a sack and three of those nine were for a loss. I’ll admit it. When the team signed him I chuckled and thought it was at best a move to add depth, maybe. Te’o seems however to be a player that not only will play a role this season but maybe even a key role with starter type snaps.

HAVE A SEAT SON, WE NEED TO TALK

CB DAMIAN SWANN: The Saints picked up their sixth sack of the night from Craig Robertson. The play resulted in the Bolts having to convert on 3rd and 23 and assisting that cause was Swann who was called for pass interference. FIRST DOWN CHARGERS! Head Coach Sean Payton absolutely and rightfully so blows a gasket on plays that turn a punt into an extension to a possession. Swann hasn’t looked particularly well at practice and a play like that may have former 5th round pick in trouble.

UP NEXT

The Saints will play their first home game of the new season next Saturday as they welcome the Houston Texans to town. Before that both teams will hold joint practices on Wednesday and Thursday as the Saints training facility.

Aug

19

First round picks to see first action of season

By Gus Kattengell

The Saints take on the Chargers in Los Angeles Sunday in their second preseason game. A week ago the Browns handed the Saints a tenth straight exhibition loss. Safety Kenny Vaccaro was one of the more vocal players saying that the team needs to take the preseason more series and try and win these games.

Both teams enter the game having had a pair of practices against one another and with each seemingly winning one day a piece. L.A. seemed to outplay the Saints in Thursday’s workout as they gave the Saints offensive line fits and QB Phillip Rivers had a good amount of success against the Saints secondary. Friday the Saints defense rebounded, pressuring the Bolts offense better and Safety Marcus Williams picked up an interception in a team period.

Los Angeles is a 3.5 favorite.

THE ENEMY

Los Angeles is coming off of a preseason opening loss as well 48-17 to the Seahawks in their debut at the StubHub Center.

It has been a busy several months since the last time the Bolts took to the field. San Diego is no longer the team’s home as they’ve moved to Los Angels and will play in a MLS Soccer stadium where capacity is 27,000 fans.

Change also came to the staff after a 5-11 season in 2016 as the team hired 48-year-old Anthony Lynn as the 16th head coach in franchise history. Lynn coached with Sean Payton when both were members of the Dallas Cowboys staff in 2005 where Lynn served as the running backs coach and Payton as the quarterbacks coach.

The Chargers were the 9th ranked offense and 16th overall ranked defense in the NFL.

HISTORY

The Chargers have the edge in the battles between the teams leading it 7-5 but six of those came early in the series between 1973 and 1997. Since 2000 the Saints have a 4-1 edge in the series including last year’s win which marked the third straight for the Black and Gold.

New Orleans came back to win 35-34 after trailing 24-14 at halftime and still trailed 34-21 in the fourth quarter. A fumble gave New Orleans new live and Saints QB Drew Brees hit WR Michael Thomas on 4th down for a TD to bring the Saints to with in six. A second straight fumble gave Brees the chance he needed as he led the offense on a seven-play 31-yard drive to set up the winning score, a John Kuhn run.

HOW THE SOUTH IS WON: DIVISION IN ACTION

Carolina 1-1 @ Tennessee 1-1 27-34 F
Atlanta 0-1 @ Pittsburgh 0-0 +3.0
Tampa Bay 1-1 @ Jacksonville 1-1 12-8

STORYLINES

GET IN THERE ROOKS

It took an extra week but we will finally see the Saints pair of first round draft picks in CB Marshon Lattimore and T Ryan Ramczyk. Lattimore is working his way back from a reported knee sprain suffered early in training camp. Lattimore has had some nice moments this week in the pair of practices against the Chargers and no doubt everyone is eager to see what he can do under the lights. The revelation that CB Delvin Breaux has a fractured fibula that will keep him out for possibly a full six weeks, Lattimore’s development becomes even more important.

Ramczyk quite simply is the starter in Week 1. You saw that after just a few opening practices in training camp. He suffered an undisclosed injury that kept him out of action for about a week but he said this week that he was looking forward to seeing his first game action. Repeatedly his teammates on both offense and defense continue to sing his praises by mainly saying he doesn’t play like a rookie. He will be tested against a talented defensive line in his first NFL action.

DEFENSE

The Saints had four sacks a week ago but that came against an offense in Cleveland that has no clue who the quarterback will be and won a single game last season. It is not the case this week as Phillip Rivers is one the best in the league and led the Bolts to the 8th best passing offense in the NFL in 2016.

LB Stephone Anthony, Mitchell Loewen, Al-Quadin Muhammad and Alex Jenkins all found their way to the quarterback. Can the Saints put pressure on a better offensive line and a veteran quarterback?

A week ago the Saints defense also did a solid job of getting off the field on 3rd down keeping Cleveland from a first down in the first quarter. The defense put pressure on the quarterback, ball swarming, tight coverage and solid tackling were reasons for that. Will we see it for a second consecutive week

JUST WIN BABY

I get it’s preseason but even the players are tiring of consecutive losses. The games may not count in the record books but for a team that has not had a winning season in three straight years and now not won before the season starts, well at some point to become a winning team, you have to win! I don’t care how it happens but a win needs to happen.

PLAYERS TO KEPP AN EYE ON

OFFENSE

QB GARRETT GRAYSON: It’s nothing personal on the kid but I have no idea how coach Payton earlier this week said he was having a good camp and was improving. His performance against Cleveland had fans talking about how bad he was in the days that followed. Two games remain for the third year quarterback to do something special and earn a roster spot because at this point making the NFL as a backup would be an accomplishment.

WR MICHAEL THOMAS: It’s a homecoming for Thomas and he saw limited action last week. Thomas is killing it at practice and is making the slant route an unstoppable play. Thomas was key in the regular season win a season ago and it’ll be interesting to see if they go to him early at home for a chance to shine in front of friends and family.

RB ALVIN KAMARA: No reason here other than he is exciting to watch. All he did in his first NFL action was give someone who was trying to tackle him a concussion and then had a video game run bouncing off a sure tackle for a big gain. Give him the ball. Please. Thank you.

DEFENSE

S MARCUS WILLIAMS: Williams is starting to make plays. This week at practice against the Chargers he had an interception. Last week he seemed to always be around the ball, both things we have seen at practice since his arrival. He is going to be good.

LB ALEX ANZALONE: Stephone Anthony has been out since the Cleveland game and in the battle for snaps it’s appearing more and more the WILL position is the rookie’s to lose. He recorded three tackles last week and if he can build on that it will be a good thing for the Saints.

DT TYLER DAVIDSON: The second year player has been getting most of the first team reps here for almost two weeks and David Onyamata have been battling something. Davison said this week he wants to be an all-around tackle, one that pressure the quarterback and one that stops the run.

NEXT UP

The Saints will play their first home game of the new season next Saturday as they welcome the Houston Texans to town.

Aug

12

Who Dat Nation Shirt

Had somebody ask about one of our old WhoDatNation shirts so we found the link !

wdn-shirt

Check out the website for the shirts with this design!  More designs to come !

Aug

12

Saints’ Sean Payton: Ted Ginn Jr. will ‘make more big plays than not’

METAIRIE, La. — Ted Ginn Jr.’s debut with the New Orleans Saints wasn’t exactly awe-inspiring. Two targets, zero catches and one dropped pass in the end zone before the starters called it an early night in a 20-14 loss to the Cleveland Browns on Thursday.

The drop was a little disconcerting, since that is a problem that has plagued Ginn throughout his 10-year NFL career.

But coach Sean Payton was quick to insist Friday that Ginn has done enough good things this summer after signing a three-year, $11 million contract to forgive the occasional misplay.

Click here now for more of the story

Aug

11

Gus Kattengell – ESPN Radio

Sport fans listen to Gus Kattengell on ESPN RADIO NOLA at 1:00 pm CT as he talks local and national sports. Listen live on 100.3FM.

Aug

10

SAINTS TAKE FIRST STEP TO HOPEFULLY A TURNAROUND SEASON

By Gus Kattengell
@Gkatt_17

The Saints kick of the preseason schedule on the road Thursday night at Cleveland. It’s the first of four games in the preseason slate with the next one being on Sunday the 20th in Los Angeles to face the Chargers. Saturday August 26th brings the Saints to the Dome for the first time this season to face the Texans and the exhibition season wraps up on Thursday the 31st against Baltimore.

A new season is here and with it the excitement that this fresh start may lead to a first Saints post-season appearance since 2013. Three straight 7-9 seasons have created a palpable sense of urgency.

The Saints won the Super Bowl in 2009 and followed that 13-3 season with a 11-5 campaign in 2010. 2011 saw a team many believe was a Super Bowl winning team as they once again went 13-3 but lost in the Divisional Round at San Francisco. Since that year the Saints have had just one post-season appearance coming in 2013 as they went 11-5 and once again lost in the Divisional Round. 2012, 2014,2015 and 2016 saw the team however finish 7-9.

The lack of winning has created that urgency and also uncertainty as rumors the past two seasons about head coach Sean Payton being courted, or contemplating a fresh start, combined with QB Drew Brees and team agreeing to seemingly go this season with out a new contract have fans on edge. Add that the past two seasons an NFC South team has represented the NFC in the Super Bowl to go with the fact many analyst believe Tampa Bay is the team to watch for this season, and well you get the picture. Oh and almost forgot the daunting start to the season as the team’s first four games are at Minnesota on a Monday night, host the defending Super Bowl Champion Patriots, travel to Carolina and then London to face Miami before the bye week.

Also it could be a positive that if the Saints need to make a move for the division title they could have it in their own hands as they will face NFC South opponents in four their final five games hosting Carolina, then travel to Atlanta on a Thursday night, host the Jets, host the Falcons and finish the season at Tampa Bay on New Year’s Eve.

STORYLINES

The Saints enter the preseason with a handful of questions and while none can fully be answered in the preseason opener, we may start to see how some of those questions will unfold.

DEPENDING ON YOUTH

I truly believe that if the Saints are to be a playoff team then this draft class must not only workout but it must shine by virtue of position and availability. Five of the seven players selected in April were on the defensive side of the ball. First round picks CB Marshon Lattimore and T Ryan Ramczyk will have the opportunity to play now and in camp when healthy have given us reason to believe that they can as Lattimore has seen snap with the first unit and Ramczyk if healthy could be the starting left tackle. Second round pick S Marcus Williams has been impressive so far as he has showed signs of why many call him a ball hawk and seems to add to a group of safeties that may be a strength on this team. His ability to cover large areas of the field may allow defensive coordinator Dennis Allen to really attack offenses with riskier calls and strategies. 3rd round selections linebacker Alex Anzalone and DE Trey Hendrickson have seen work with the first unit during training camp and both are positions where depth are needed.

Let’s not forget the 2016 class and how their development will impact the team’s chances of winning. Sheldon Rankins, David Onyamata and Tyler Davidson are the defensive tackles that have gotten the work with the first unit. S Vohn Bell is the starting safety opposite of Kenny Vaccaro and from two classes ago LB Stephone Anthony continues to try and find a way to help the team and if he can he will add depth to an improved linebackers group.

CULTURE OF WINNING

Winning teams can flip the proverbial switch and turn up their gameplay a notch when it really matters. The Saints are not at that point so the importance to winning in any shape or form possible is evident. Defensive backs coach Aaron Glenn has been heard during training camp practices yelling “win the play,” and to “spike the ball” to his defensive backs in an attempt to create a culture of winning. It’s important that this team find some winning ways as it will create confidence and with so many new and young faces on this team that have NOT won together it may be vital.

FREE AGENT PIECES MUST FIT IN

Three big pieces were added via shopping free agency this offseason and their contributions I believe will be upgrades at their respective positions.

RG Larry Warford was introduced to us via Sean Payton as Mr. “Ass and Mass” and at 6-3 317 we see why. He has been solid at practice clearing holes in the run game and seems genuinely excited to be on the team when speaks to media. Jahri Evans was big last season coming in late in the preseason to shore up the offensive line and it seems as if Warford will pick up where Evans left off and then some.

RB Adrian Peterson won’t play Thursday but we may still see him in the preseason with it likely being against Houston. OTAs, Mini Camp and now Training has shown us a healthy and eager running back. I think teams will be surprised at how the Saints use Peterson. He was all smiles at the start of camp when speaking about all of the options the Saints offense has and how that likely will leave him initially taking on the fewest defenders he has to as teams can’t simply stack the box to try and stop him.

LB A.J. Klein was seeking a place to start after spending four seasons in Carolina. Klein is a noticeable upgrade as he has played the SAM linebacker since arriving to New Orleans. Players have talked about his leadership qualities and we can see and hear how he sets players in the right positions to make plays and his all business attitude will be a welcome site to fans.

THE ENEMY

Cleveland is coming off of a 1-15 season in 2016, that earned them the top pick overall in the 20-17 NFL Draft. The Browns went with Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett. The top player taken overall said this week that he is looking forward to making a statement in his first NFL action as looks to show he can “play with the big boys.”

Right now Garrett is listed as the starting right defensive end. ESPN’s Pat McManamon who cover’s the Browns reports that Garrett had two sacks in the team’s intrasquad scrimmage but that head coach Hue Jackson told him he should have had four.

One of the big storylines in Cleveland once again heading into the season is who will play quarterback. Head coach Hue Jackson said the competition for the Week 1 starter job is open but did mention that who starts the preseason opener could be the guy come September. Brock Osweiler is getting the start against the Saints with rookie DeShone Kizer vying to give Osweiler competition for the top job. Cody Kessler is also competing for snaps but has seen his second team snaps reduced recently.

The NFL didn’t do any favors to the one win team from a season ago as they open the season playing divisional opponents in three of their first four games. Cleveland hosts Pittsburgh, is then at Baltimore, at Indianapolis and then hosts Cincinnati.

HISTORY

The last time these two teams met was back on September 14, 2014 in a game where Browns kicker Billy Cundiff won it connecting on a 29-yeard field goal with three seconds left. The Saints dropped to 0-2 on the season.

Twice before have the teams met in the preseason but the last time came back in 1982. Cleveland won 20-17 and the Saints won the only other preseason matchup in 1968, a 40-27 Black and Gold win at Tulane Stadium.

HOW THE SOUTH IS WON: DIVISION IN ACTION

Houston 0-0 @ Panthers 0-0 -1
Atlanta 0-0 @ Miami 0-0 +1.5
Tampa Bay 0-0 @ Cincinnati 0-0 -2.0

PLAYERS TO KEPP AN EYE ON

OFFENSE

RB Alvin Kamara – The Rookie is fun to watch at practice. Yes he can catch the ball extremely well but I feel it will be his ground game that will be a pleasant surprise to many. He runs hard and loses none of the athleticism you see as a pass catcher.

WR Brandon Coleman – He has been called the MVP of training camp by some of his teammates. Consistency is still an issue with him for me and while he has had some good moments at practice, it’s practice and until he shows he can translate that into a game he will remain on the All-Potential Team.

WR Travin Dural – The LSU rookie was not drafted and as the offseason began I thought what a great accomplishment it would be to get on the practice squad and have a season of learning under WR coach Curtis Johnson. I still don’t see Dural on the final 53 but it’s hard to ignore the fact that he is improving by the practice. With Michael Thomas being so valuable, Ted Ginn Jr being a veteran and Willie Snead already having been nicked up, Dural will likely get a healthy amount of snaps. Let’s see if he can shine

DEFENSE

The whole defensive line – If Osweiler, Kizer and whoever the heck else Cleveland has look like Brady, Montana and Brees it won’t be good. In particular, the trio of Rankins, Onyamata and Davidson as the ability to stop the run was an issue last season much less rushing the passer from the interior line.

Alex Okafor and Hau’oli Kikaha – Both have gotten the work at right defensive end and have flashed that speed needed to rush the passer from the outside and both have made some nice plays at practice. The Saints need the side opposite of Cam Jordan to improve and if it does watch out for Jordan can could have a monster year.

CB Ken Crawley – Delvin Breaux’s injury has allowed #20 to get a ton of snaps with the fist unit and when you pick off Drew Brees in consecutive practices people start to notice.

S Marcus Williams – This kid is good. Williams just looks like a natural at the position and has the ability and will have the chance to bring to the team something it’s desperately lacked for many years and that is a play making safety.

Aug

04

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Aug

04

Are you ready for some football !

Who Dat Nation, are you ready for some football !  Have to love what TeenyB did with this bikini : ) WDN-teenyb-01

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