Deke: What to watch for in Saints-Patriots matchup
by Deke Bellavia,posted Aug 9 2012 8:44AM
Last week the Saints beat the Cardinals 17-10 in the Hall of Fame Game. This is the Patriots' first game of the preseason. The last time these two teams met, much more was at stake, with both the Saints and Patriots making a run at the post-season in November of 2009. However, the one constant about both of these teams is they are both still considered Super Bowl caliber teams.
When you hear Saints Coach Joe Vitt speak, it’s easy to tell how much respect he has for the Patriots organization. “Let me just say this, number one - I made this statement yesterday and Sean (Payton) has made this statement – that this franchise that we’re going against is the Microsoft of our industry with what they’ve done. Number two – in my era as a coach, Bill Belichick is the coach of my era. He’s the Don Shula, the Bill Walsh of my era. So they’ve had some adversity and have done a great job of handling it. I’ve had conversations with Bill. We know that our players are strong. We’ve been through adversity before, but there’s really no comparisons as you’re getting out to these practices. We’re trying to get better, both teams every day.”
Two of the best quarterbacks to ever play will guide their dangerous offensive units in the game, although neither QB will play for a long period of time. After the Saints’ 17-10 win over the Cardinals, here are a few things to look for as the Black and Gold take on New England.
Things to look for in the game
Yes this is the Saints second preseason game but don’t look for the starters on either team to play very long in this contest. For the second straight week the Saints will be missing some of the top-tier players at wide receiver and corner back.
Since Sean Payton took over as Head Coach, many Saints players have had a chance to make an impression in the preseason, and this preseason is no different. Last week in the Saints’ 17-10 win over Arizona, a few players made the most of their time on the field.
RB Travaris Cadet had eight receptions for 80 yards to go along with 49 combined yards on kick and punt returns. Cadet is still a long-shot to make the Saints’ 53 man roster, but keep in mind there are 31 other teams out there paying close attention to what other teams’ players are doing in the preseason as well.
Without the services of either Nick Toon and Adrian Arrington again this week, look for more play from Andy Tanner, Joe Morgan and Courtney Roby. Tanner hauled in four receptions for 75 yards, Morgan picked up three grabs for 35 yards, and Courtney had four receptions for 54-yards.
Over on the Saints defense, several players should get more looks this week…guys like A.J. Davis, Marquis Johnson and Corey White. Last week White led the Saints with five tackles, and Davis and Johnson also made plays in the Saints defensive secondary.
Two other players that made a nice impression last week for the Saints were DL Tyrunn Walker and LB Lawrence Wilson. Walker led the Saints with five tackles, including one sack, for -8 yards. Wilson had three tackles and one interception in the game for the Saints.
Thomas Morstead will look to continue his consistent play, as he averaged 46 yards per punt last week, including a long punt of 57 yards. The Saints also got contributions from several players on special teams, including Laron Scott.
Scott had one of the biggest plays in the game as he returned a kickoff 67 yards in the Saints’ win over the Cardinals. The Saints also did a nice job of kick and punt coverage against Arizona, and fans will once again be paying attention to the kicking battle between Kasay and Hartley.
Who Dats will also look to see if the Saints can continue improving on the pass rush. To say the Saints are stepping up in class in that department would be an understatement. So if the Saints can get more pressure on the QB this week, it would be another good sign. Last week the Saints did a good job of getting pressure on the Arizona quarterbacks as the Black and Gold recorded three sacks.
Once again, the starters won’t play long but this is another chance for the Saints staff to evaluate players and look to get some quality help this season, even though there are very few roster spots available for the new players to make.