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New Orleans Saints vs. Oakland Raiders: three things to watch

New Orleans Saints starting quarterback Drew Brees hopes the Saints backups serve up Oakland Raiders sushi this evening.

New Orleans Saints starting quarterback Drew Brees hopes the Saints backups serve up Oakland Raiders sushi this evening.

The New Orleans Saints conclude their preseason home stand against the mighty Oakland Raiders at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Kickoff is at 7:00 p.m. CT. It will be their final home game before their September 8th regular-season opener against the Atlanta Falcons.

The game promises to be little more than an elaborate scrimmage, the kind that will have fans yawning after the first few drives. (Then again, it’s the Raiders: even a regular-season game would probably turn out to be yawnworthy).

Jokes aside, it’s clear that both teams have areas they need to straighten out. Overall, the Saints defense played well against the Kansas City Chiefs last week — once Kansas City pulled their starters, that is — surrendering the fewest yards of any team in the NFL. But it was concerning how they gave up a long, 14-play opening drive that ended in a touchdown run by running back Jamaal Charles.

The defense is in the midst of transition with a incoming coordinator Rob Ryan, who is implementing a new 3-4 scheme, so the product on the field remains a work in progress.

Things to watch this week

Starters in the 3-4

Although the 3-4 defense played really well after the Kansas City starters were pulled, they had some issue facing the first-team offense. On the bright side, they didn’t give up any big plays. They didn’t allow any wide receiver other than hybrid running back Dexter McCluster to catch a pass; they didn’t allow any long runs; and they didn’t let quarterback Alex Smith pass down the field. They have shown some promising signs, so hopefully they can improve this week and shut down Oakland’s first team.

No. 3 wide receivers

Saints head coach Sean Payton has said that young wide receivers Nick Toon and Kenny Stills will get plenty of action in this game as the battle for the No. 3 spot continues. Toon played really well late against Kansas City, while Stills’ performance was much more uneven. He dropped a beautifully thrown downfield pass from Drew Brees, then made a nice sideline reception, then fumbled on a reverse. Everything else thrown at him seemed to end in a penalty, whether offensive or defensive pass interference. Assuming it was simply a case of rookie preseason jitters, look for Stills to step up this week.

Special teams

New Orleans gave up three long returns that ended in 10 points for Kansas City — not a good way to open the preseason for special-teams players fighting for their football lives. One never wants to see any unit of the team struggle, but somehow blown special-teams coverage is just so much more heartbreaking to witness.

JVince 11
JVince 11

Bears signed Jordan Palmer while I was away??? wow... 

I was looking forward to JaMarcus Russell vs Vince Young.

JVince 11
JVince 11

So is EDS really not playing tomorrow night and Van Roten is instead??? if so I need an excuse for if our running game isn't much improved....

What happened to EDS I saw he didn't practice yesterday but it had been lang down before that.


All right Packers is a summary:

- Lacy will play tomorrow but not "The One" Harris or Starks.  But Franklin is on too.

- Cobb is still nursing an injury.  I will be pissed if I hear the word surgery next week

- ONCE AGAIN new center experiment in Van Roten.  If wife has a mini-van, their poor kids...

- Man with most pressure tomorrow might be Crosby.  Italian boy has been money.

- Sam Shields got the runs and MM in fact was in the bathroom to confirm he is getting better. (NO JOKE)

- Someone actually thinks House sucked but Micah is ok....good to be a rookie...benefit of doubt.