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New Orleans Saints vs. Kansas City Chiefs: three battles to watch

Kenny Stills has a chance to get plenty of play time.

As the New Orleans Saints prepare to square off against the Kansas City Chiefs, rookie wide receiver Kenny Stills has a chance to get plenty of playing time.

Preseason is upon us, and that means NFL games are ever so close to actually being relevant again. But first teams must find out what they have to work with.

Head coach Sean Payton returns to the New Orleans Saints sidelines today for this evening’s tilt, which will also be Rob Ryan’s first game as incoming defensive coordinator. As new and old come together in the hopes of producing something great, plenty of roster spots remain wide open for whoever has the talent, the tenacity, and yes, the luck to seize them.

Tonight the Saints square off against the Kansas City Chiefs, who will be debuting their new look with quarterback Alex Smith at the helm. Kickoff is at 7:00 p.m. CT in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

As we await the action with bated breath, I want to preview three areas of the squad that will be showcased in the preseason opener.

3-4 defense

Rob Ryan is installing a 3-4 defensive scheme on a Saints team that hasn’t run this alignment the glory days of Jim Mora and the Dome Patrol.

Unfortunately, this time around they aren’t blessed with four Pro Bowl-caliber linebackers. Instead Ryan is forced to work with a group of 4-3 personnel being wedged into a 3-4 scheme.

Former defensive end Will Smith is making the change to outside linebacker. So far he has made a nice transition, losing weight to get back to his college playing size of around 268 lbs. He had been getting too slow in recent years, so reducing bulk should be helpful.

Opposite Smith, the other outside linebackers will be the ones to watch. Martez Wilson, another converted defensive end, is banged up a bit, so we may not see him. Junior Galette and rookie Rufus Johnson are the prime candidates to take over the pass-rushing role.

The rest of the defense will simply be trying to get settled into their new roles, especially the front seven, who will have the opportunity to face punishing Kansas City running back Jamaal Charles for a few plays.

Left tackle

Pro Bowl left tackle Jermon Bushrod departed for the Chicago Bears this offseason, so there is an open competition for the right to protect the blindside of one of the most prolific quarterbacks in the game.

Fourth-year player Charles Brown will get the start this evening as he attempts to fend off first-round bust Jason Smith, who has performed poorly in training camp, and rookie Terron Armstead. Armstead will be making a push to overtake Smith on the depth chart over the next four weeks of preseason action.

Fortunately for all these men, quarterback Drew Brees makes tackles looks better than they really are, so none of them is under pressure to be studs off the bat. On the other hand, the loss of offensive line coach Aaron Kromer (also to Chicago) could make the transition just a tad more difficult.

No. 3 wide receiver

Human highlight reel Joe Morgan was primed to take the No. 3 spot until he was lost for the season with multiple knee injuries.

This opens the door wide for two young, talented players to secure a chance to play. Second-year man Nick Toon and rookie Kenny Stills both have the kind of playmaking ability necessary to thrive in a high-flying offense — but they will have to fend off recent free-agent acquisition Steve Breaston for the spot. A veteran of the game, Breaston is a real deep threat and may have the inside track to the job based on resume alone.

This should be one of the more fun camp battles to watch.

223 comments
504 N.O. EZ
504 N.O. EZ

We still need to work at the defensive stay point a lil bit. But a win is a win.

mountaineer4ever
mountaineer4ever

Greetings Watercooler Bloggers ....... wow a lot of rust on both sides of the ball ........ soft pressure by Rob Ryan ...

bp.
bp. moderator

I just spent an hour fighting with a client, and for the first time ever had to scream at someone.  I am attempting to save the jackass from a buttload of pain, and he fights me every step of the way.  Beer time.

Hello and goodbye.

Evil Donkey
Evil Donkey moderator

Anyone know if Broyles is playing? 

LKP
LKP

Alright I'm out of here. Enjoy the Lions Pre-season championship run starting tonight.

angrysaladman
angrysaladman

anyone think one of their GF's friends is in to them?

G & G
G & G moderator

I want to write an article about Stolen Laptop

Cam Of Steel
Cam Of Steel

2k is back...like I said he will have 1500 yards this year....

BearsSaveLives
BearsSaveLives moderator

@angrysaladman No, but I've caught Raji's gaze lingering at me over breakfast at Maized's house once or twice.

LKP
LKP

@Mr._Horse Out on purpose. They aren't risking him until Week 1. He practiced this week

robertj72
robertj72

@Cam Of Steel I wrote it...I am expecting it. It is really a game preview for both...hope it drops. I am hoping I did such an evenhanded, complete job the the bossman wants it to be the one up during the games.

Gruntled ®eggie
Gruntled ®eggie moderator

@robertj72 @Cam Of Steel   

usually for games involving 2 teams involved at WCSN we just have one article written about the game.

But most of the time that gets ignored and we have like 4-5 written for one game haha.

Not that it's a bad thing.