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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.

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