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Kristian Garic

Talk sports and more with Kristian and T-Bob Hebert on "Double Coverage!" 

Weeknights 8pm-Midnight

Twitter: @kristiangaric
Email: kristian@wwl.com

Kristian: James Laurinaitis added to Saints injury report

The Saints injury report remains the same as yesterday ahead of this week's match up with the San Diego Chargers with the addition of LB James Laurinaitis with a quad injury. He was limited in practice today. I expect Laurinaitis to play this week against the Chargers.

LT Terron Armstead was not on the practice field and did not practice today. Armstead is listed on the injury report with a knee injury. Coach Sean Payton said today in his conference call the injury is not long term, and that was the only comment he had on it. Armstead did not play on Monday night against Atlanta and Andrus Peat filled in at left tackle in Armstead's absence. I would expect to see the same line up this week against the Chargers.

G Senio Kelemete (hamstring) also did not practice, which likely means Tim Lelito will be the starting left guard on Sunday. TE Josh Hill and CB Delvin Breaux were among the players that missed practice with Armstead and Kelemete. DT Tyeler Davison (foot/shoulder), WR Willie Snead (toe), LB Dannell Ellerbe (quad) and S Kenny Vaccaro (ankle) were all limited in practice.

The Saints are scrapping for any optimism they can find after starting 0-3, doing their best sales job to the fans and media that the team won't splinter and point fingers. "We're two games back, so it's a bump. If you keep losing you're in a hole and then you find yourself not going to the playoffs and knowing that by the middle of the season," explained safety Kenny Vaccaro.

I would describe it differently then a bump - more like a pot hole that you find so often in New Orleans! An 0-4 start before the bye could turn that bump into a Superdome-sized crater. What about the injuries you say? The Saints are banged up "Nobody cares, all it says is we're 0-3, it doesn't say 0-3 with an asterisk 'no depth.' Yeah and that unto itself is a small problem, no depth. The team can't weather the injury bug when it bites, or chomps on the Saints as it has this year.

Drew Brees will make his return to San Diego this Sunday for the first time since joining the Saints in 2006... it's hard to believe it's been since 2005 when he last played a game at the home of the Chargers in Qualcomm stadium. In fact, he's only stepped foot in that stadium one other time since coming to New Orleans. "I helped Reggie (Bush) in his football camp there I believe in 2007, but haven't played a game there."

Brees admitted that he'll have some extra juice to him this week preparing for the team that told him he wasn't their guy anymore following a shoulder injury at the end of the 2005 season. "I'm trying to visualize what it's going to be like walking into that stadium for the first time in a long time and try to get those feelings and emotions out right now so once the game starts I'm locked in and ready to go," Brees said. In two previous games against the Chargers, Brees and the Saints enjoyed victories in 2008 (London) and 2012 in the Dome.
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Kristian: Saints sign OL Khalif Barnes, are a tick healthier overall

The Saints need a W headed into the bye. As painful as it has been to watch the Saints get out of the gate with an 0-3 record, it would be even worse having to sit on a loss for two weeks during the bye following the game against San Diego. 1-3 during the bye week would provide a flicker of hope for the remaining 12 games that would await. 0-4 would be downright dreadful for the team and the fan base, with games after the off week against Carolina, Kansas City, Denver, and Seattle - just to name a few!

Offensive lineman Khalif Barnes has been added to the Saints roster, agreeing to terms on a one year deal first reported by NFL Network. To make room for Barnes on the roster the Saints placed LB Obum Gwachem on Injured Reserve. Barnes has been in on visits on two different occasions and even on the roster toward the end of the preseason, and is finally healthy enough to sign with the team.

The Black and Gold are a tick healthier this week with WR Willie Snead returning to practice, along with S Kenny Vaccaro. LT Terron Armstead was not at practice today. Snead missed Monday night's game against the Falcons with a toe injury. Vaccaro also sat out in week 3 with an ankle injury, and told me today that he could have played this week with some injections and heavy tape, but the team felt it was best to sit him down to make sure the injury doesn't linger throughout the season. G Senio Kalemete also missed practice; he suffered a right leg injury in the loss to the Falcons and did not return in the second half. CB Delvin Breaux (fibula) also did not practice.

The entire Saints injury report is below.

Did Not Practice
G Senio Kelemete (Hamstring)
CB Delvin Breaux (Fibula)
TE Josh Hill (Ankle)
T Terron Armstead (Knee)

Limited Practice
LB Dannell Ellerbe (Quad)
DT Tyeler Davison (Shoulder/Foot)
S Kenny Vaccaro (Ankle)
WR Willie Snead IV (Toe)
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Kristian: Life comes full circle on Payton's Saints

Blood is in the water in South Louisiana, with LSU coach Les Miles being fired this week. Fans are bloodthirsty and I get it. I think it's warranted, considering what has transpired with the Saints and their 0-3 start. One week it's the defense, one week it's the offense and one week it's the special teams. Well in fact the special teams has played a role in all three losses, but more on that later.

Injuries are a factor, and sure the team won't make excuses as to why they've gotten off to a 0-3 start, but this is just a direct result of drafting poorly and spending money in free agency that hasn't worked out to your favor. The Saints are in this position because they've put themselves in it with bad personnel decisions followed by more bad decisions. When it comes to personnel mistakes, just take the Cajun Cannon Bobby Hebert's take on it: "Sean Payton is like Les Miles when it comes to talent evalutation. Les Miles was clueless in X's and O's, and Sean Payton is equally clueless." Pretty strong words from the Cannon. When a coach thinks he knows better than the scouts and talent evaluators, there is a problem.

I wonder how long it will be before we see the bags come out? I thought we would never see the bags again, but I'm wondering how long until we see them revived from the past. The bags came out when the Saints were a wretched franchise incapable of wining because they invent ways to lose. Wait, am I describing the 2016 team? I might be. The Saints have lost games from special teams miscues, defensive meltdowns and offensive mishaps this season. The team would say they don't know how to win. That's alarming. How do you not know how to win? Because you're young and lack talent. Who is to blame? The head coach and general manager, that's who!

I'm being to wonder if the Saints are going to reach Ditka depths. No I'm not talking about trading an entire draft for one player, but it's looking like a more sound strategy give the teams recent draft struggles. The Saints are 4-11 in their last 15 home games… that didn't happen even during the dubious Ditka era. While the Saints have enjoyed great success under the Sean Payton era, it's kind of clouded based on the recent failures. Gone is the Dome Field Advantage that used to carry the team to wins despite being outplayed by the opponent. Gone are the days where the Saints could win in spite of mistakes, because they were the more talented team. The Saints have no margin for error, in large part because the front office has whiffed on talent in the past half decade.

Finally, I think the Saints are closer to the Cleveland Browns than the New England Patriots. That's a far cry from where we once thought this franchise to be a few short years ago. The Saints used to be that team on the cusp of a playoff or Super Bowl berth, today they're on the cusp of a toilet bowl berth. Already fans are asking, who's the top pick in the draft instead of who's the top team in the NFC. Home field advantage and the prospect thereof, is hyperbole at this point, instead we're starting to wonder if the Saints will be in contention for the top pick in the draft. My point? Cleveland, you have company in New Orleans. We share your misery!

I was asked today by a fan, what will it take for the Saints to fire Sean Payton. Prior to today I would have said an act of God. Divine intervention. Following today's 45-32 loss to the Falcons I'm not so sure it would take that. Another couple of losses I think it's more real than we might want to believe. Life has come full circle on Sean Payton and the Saints. Yesterday is just that, a long foggy memory of what was, and what could have been; and a long harsh reality of what is to come. Buckle up Saints fans, I think it's safe to say it's going to get uglier before it gets prettier. Bring back the bags? Maybe, start the second guessing? Absolutely! Game on!!​
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Brees: Despite 0-3 start, Saints are an "ascendant" team

You might read the headline and roll your eyes, but in Drew Brees' eye, the Saints are just that - an ascending team, a team that is still learning how to win. "That's fair, obviously things have happened this week that will prevent you from winning. Special teams need to be asset for us. Offensively we need to be efficient as we can be. We had a lot of great individual performances tonight. We all need to work together," an undeterred Brees said after the Saints fell to 0-3 after a 45-32 loss to the Atlanta Falcons on Monday Night Football.

Brees realizes the Saints have plenty of work to do to climb out of an 0-3 hole "There is no doubt we can get better in a lot of areas. I was surprised when you look at the critical areas, third downs, red zone efficiency and those are the things the Falcons are very very good at. We won in those areas today. We didn't win in the take away/giveaway ratio today. We had a chance." The unfortunate part about the Saints for the first three games is they've had a chance in three game and haven't been able to cash in on wins. That's the troubling part.

This week the Saints will make the trek to the west coast to take on the San Diego Chargers. Because of scheduling quirks, Drew Brees has never made a return trip to Qualcomm stadium in San Diego following his last game in that venue in 2005. Brees walked off that field in the final game of the season that year with a torn shoulder injury that ultimately landed him in New Orleans in the 2006 off-season. Brees has never played a game in San Diego against the Chargers since that fateful day. "I know we're playing against a really good team with a really good QB. As for the emotions of walking into Qualcomm, it's been a long time obviously. I'm sure there will be a little bit of emotion and I will try to get that out of the way this week. When I get there this week it's all about the game and locking in." Brees has played the Chargers twice in his career, one in London, and one in New Orleans, and both were victories for the Saints. ​

To hear the full audio of Brees' comments, click the link below.

FULL AUDIO: Brees on "Monday Morning Quarterback"

Photo via USA TODAY
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Kristian:Saints face Falcons without Armstead, Snead, Jordan, Vaccaro?

The Saints will attempt to win their first game of the season without left tackle Terron Armstead (knee).

He's been ruled out for Monday night against the Atlanta Falcons, along with CB Delvin Breaux (fibula). We already knew Breaux was out several weeks.

Breaux said he sustained his broken fibula on a special teams play against the Oakland Raiders in week one.

WR Willie Snead (toe) practiced today and will be a game time decision Monday night.

Snead said, "We'll see how it feels Monday" following practice today. Snead has been the Saints most consistent playmaker in the first two weeks of the season. Snead is officially listed as questionable for the game.

The following players are also listed as questionable: DE Cameron Jordan (Knee), LB Dannell Ellerbe (quad), TE Josh Hill (ankle), DT Tyeler Davison (Shoulder/foot) and Safety Kenny Vaccaro.
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Kristian: Six Saints still hurt ahead of Falcons game

The Black and Gold remain black and blue as they get ready to face the Dirty Birds on Monday Night Football.

The Saints second injury report of the week is just as bad as the first one we saw yesterday. CB Delvin Breaux (fibula) LB Dannell Ellerbe (quad) TE Josh Hill (ankle) T Terron Armstead (knee) DT Tyeler Davison (shoulder/foot) WR Willie Snead (toe) and S Kenny Vaccaro (ankle) all missed practice again today.

Armstead missing practice again is alarming, but the thought of the Saints going into this game with Tony Hills at left tackle isn't as frightening as you would expect. Hills came on in relief at left tackle last season against the Atlanta Falcons and played well for the injured Armstead. He had very little time in the offense, having signed just four days prior to that game.

Hills remembers that game well last season. "I was just playing the game based on old terminology that I learned in another system. Occasionally I would have to check with my team mates as to what my assignments were."

Fortunately for the Saints, Atlanta isn't one of the better pass rushing teams in the league. The offense should be able to manage without Armstead.

WR Willie Snead has been the team's most consistent threat in the passing game through the first two weeks of the season. If he can't go, I could see a larger role for rookie Michael Thomas. This also might be the week you see Coby Fleener establish himself in the offense after two below average weeks to start the season.

The Saints are back on the practice field tomorrow for the final day before facing Atlanta on Monday night in the Superdome at 7:30

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Kristian: Injuries mount for Saints ahead of Monday night against Atlanta

The first injury report of the week is a little eye popping for the New Orleans Saints.

The list includes several key players.

CB Delvin Breaux (fibula) LB Dannell Ellerbe (Quad) TE Josh Hill (ankle) T Terron Armstead (knee) DT Tyeler Davison (shoulder/foot) WR Willie Snead (toe) and S Kenny Vaccaro (ankle) all missed practice today.

Armstead's injury is unnerving, because in the first two weeks of the season he was limited with a quad injury, but now shows up with a knee injury. The Saints signed Tackle Tony Hills yesterday, and he could be the next man up at left tackle if Armstead can't play Monday night against Atlanta.

Now, I know it seems like a lot of injuries, but at the same time it's typical to see injuries mount as the season goes on. If a player seeks treatment for an injury, the team has to list them on the report. Often players with minor injuries sit out the first day of practice for the week with an extra added benefit of rest in their favor.

DE Cameron Jordan (knee) was limited in today's work out.

Falcons week is always special, around Saints camp. Players describe the rivalry with some intensity and some might even say a college type of feel.

"It's been very much down to business this week," said Saints Quarterback Drew Brees.

The Saints have owned the Atlanta Falcons since Brees and coach Sean Payton arrived in New Orleans. They've compiled a 15-5 record against the Falcons in that span. Often players find themselves taking in a little extra film study or practice reps ahead of the match up with Atlanta.

This week is no different for the Saints, not to mention the team understands what is on the line here. Aside from the 10 year anniversary of the Superdome reopening, it's much more than that when it comes to the bottom line for the Saints in 2016. Win, or the team will fall to oh and three with a very bleak outlook on the rest of the season.

The Saints have significantly tough games waiting in October and November against teams like Carolina, Seattle, Kansas City, and Denver. Get the point?

Sean Payton quickly dismissed the 10 year anniversary moment as a potential catalyst to win in this game Monday night. Payton says the team has to try and put the hoopla surrounding the anniversary behind them.

"I see it being a physical game, Monday Night Football, a division opponent. I don't think that (emotional night) will come into play as much."

While I feel what Sean Payton is saying. The energy will be there from the fans, but just like 10 years ago, that night won't be special unless the team wins.

I'm trying to wrap my head around the Saints starting oh and two for the third straight season. I've questioned just how confident the team can remain after losing two games by a combined four points.

Saints quarterback Drew Brees thinks the team is close because to putting it all together.

"We're about to break the seal, and when we do we can catch fire and really get momentum and confidence and start stacking wins," Brees said.
In fact Brees went a step further about not losing confidence.

"I know how good we can be. I know that you can catch fire and catch fire quick. We'd like for that to happen this week."

While I agree a team can get hot quickly, I just wonder if it will be fire the Saints will catch or smoldering ashes of what was once a white hot inferno.
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Saints DB PJ Williams out for the season after concussion

The Saints have placed DB PJ Williams on injured reserve, ending his season. Williams sustained a concussion in last weeks road loss to the Giants.

The Saints starting corners in August were Keenan Lewis, Delvin Breaux, PJ Williams, and Damian Swann. In week 3, it's Sterling Moore, Ken Crawley, De'Vante Harris and B.W. Webb.

The Saints signed OT Tony Hills as the corresponding roster move to Williams going on IR. Hills was with the team in training camp and the preseason but was let go in the final round of cuts on September 3rd. Right Tackle Zach Strief left last weeks game in the fourth quarter with a chest injury and did not return.

Photo via USA TODAY
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Payton preaches more balance on Saints offense

When you're 0 and 2 the laundry list of things to fix could be pages long. In the Saints case, offensively, the fix is simple. On the WWL Saints Coaches Show Monday night, Payton called for balance on offense.

"With a lead, your rushing numbers go up. I felt coming off the field looking at the numbers, third down has an impact on the plays you run. Thirteen attempts rushing is not how we want to play." In the 16-13 loss to the Giants, the Saints rushed the ball just 13 times. Another area Payton wants improvement is on their downs. "We had our opportunities offensively, and we weren't very good on third down. To get three turnovers and not come away with points is disappointing." Three turnovers and two sacks usually results in wins, but not for the Saints of 2016 - at least not yet anyway.

Payton again heaped praise on rookie kicker Will Lutz. "We think this guy is gonna be special... we had to give him a clean snap and hold, along with protection." Lutz had a FG blocked and returned for a touchdown in the loss to the Giants. The protection in the B gap was the breakdown, not a low kick from Lutz. At least that's how the the Saints see it.

Now the Saints are looking up at the rest of division as the only team in the NFC South without a win. No time for self pity with the Atlanta Falcons coming to town Monday night. "Atlanta's offense had a big day against Oakland. Anytime these two teams play, it always comes down to the final drive. I'm sure this will be a game like that," Payton explained. The Saints swept Atlanta last year, but are desperate for a win to avoid falling to 0 and 3. Right now the Saints have just a 12 percent chance at making the playoffs. ​

Listen to the Saints Coaches Show every Monday at 6:30pm. To hear Payton's comments in full, click the link below.

FULL AUDIO: Payton on the Saints Coaches Show
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People : Will Lutz


Kristian: Saints have moxie despite uninspiring start to season

What if I told you the Saints were going to force 3 turnovers, 2 sacks, and not allow a defensive touchdown? You would take that, right? Those numbers should result in a Saints win, and perhaps a convincing one. Unfortunately we're talking about the 2016 Saints, not the Saints of '09,'10 or '11.

Back then, if a team committed 3 turnovers in a game against the Saints it was assuredly a blow-out loss. The Saints squandered all three turnovers, failing to cash in on a single point in the 16-13 to the New York Giants. The Saints offense was anemic on 3rd down, converting just 3 of 13.

I hope Saints defensive back P.J Williams returns to full health. Williams went down in the second quarter with what appeared to a neck injury and has since turned out to be a concussion. It was a very somber period of time moments later following the injury with both teams players taking a knee to pray for Williams. P.J. Williams was our guest this past week on the Saints Players Show and is such a good young man with a bright future.

It's hard for me to say definitively, but this team has moxie. The season is off to an uninspiring 0-2 start in what is perceived to be the easiest stretch in the schedule. However, the players and coaches seem undaunted with the reality of still looking for their first win after two games. Sean Payton called the team resilient after the loss to New York. Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan tweeted "I hate losing! We've got to finish out the close games. We will come together."

If you believe that, I don't think you're drinking kool-aid or being naive. I think they are close, but will they get over the hump or stay "close" to victory all season only to come up short - just as they've done the first two weeks.

Photo via USA TODAY
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Brees: Saints "didn't do what we should have done" on offense

The Saints collected 3 turnovers and 2 sacks, and had nothing to show for it. "Offensively we didn't do what we should have done with those turnovers. That change in momentum is critical in a game like this. We should win that game hands down, every time, and not even close," said Saints QB Drew Brees. The Saints didn't give up a touchdown on defense, and that makes the 16-13 loss to the Giants even more painful.

The Saints are 0 and 2 for the third straight year, and have lost two games this season by a total of four points. "We have to find ways to make plays that we're counted on to make, and if we can do that we'll win these games," Brees explained. With one of the youngest rosters in the league, I wonder how quickly that learning lesson will happen. The Saints have a 12 percent chance of making the playoffs.

Brees and the Saints offense struggled to sustain drives in the loss to New York. "They did a nice job with some pressures, I wasn't able to get it orchestrated properly - that's on me. It's an area we have to get better, no doubt." The Saints were 3 of 13 on third down against the Giants.

So where do the Black and Gold go from here? Well the team can't sulk and feel sorry for themselves. "I think we have some young guys on defense and young guys in the receiving corps that's really doing a great job, and you just want that to translate to wins." Brees says wins that, but wins might be elusive to a team that can't seem to finish. ​

To hear my full interview with Brees, click the link below.

FULL AUDIO: Kristian talks to Drew Brees for "Monday Morning Quarterback"

Photo via USA Today
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Kristian: Ellerbe and Hill both out as Saints head to New York

The Saints final injury report of the week looks like this - Tight End Josh Hill (ankle) and LB Dannell Ellerbe (quad) have been ruled out, along with CB Delvin Breaux (broken fibula). LT Terron Armsead (Quad) is officially listed as questionable.

New Orleans faces the New York Giants Sunday at 1pm (ET) in Met Life stadium. The Saints are a little thin at Tight End with Hill being out, they have just Coby Fleener and Chris Manhertz on the active roster. "We have always had a jump O or a lineman that can play in that position. I think there is versatility with that alignment. If you are without a tight end, it becomes a lot more challenging to run the ball, and also more challenging to protect," explained each Sean Payton. The Saints also have rookie Garret Grifffin on the practice squad and could call him up to the active roster if they need to add numbers to that position.

Break out the rain gear, the Saints and Giants are expected to get some rain during the game Sunday, and that could be a game changer for either side. Payton and the Saints are preparing for the wet weather: "A lot of that you pay attention to the day of the game, but it certainly appears that we are going to have rain. So them getting used to it and one of the reasons we are outside today, it's a little bit warmer but none the less we had some rain when we came out here and the balls were wet. Getting all the facemasks off and getting all the sleeves off. Make sure if you are wearing gloves that they are the right type of glove. All of those things." Ironically the wet weather might benefit a Saints defense that will have their hands full from an explosive Giants offense.

The Saints are trying to avoid an 0 and 2 hole Sunday in New York, and I'm not too optimistic it's going to happen. I simply don't like how the Saints match up against the New York offense, and road games with a young team are difficult. The G-Men are favored by 4.5, and I would be comfortable taking the Giants if it were a 7 point spread. I'm pretty certain you'll see another high scoring affair like you did last week. Look for Brees to air it out early and often against a Giants secondary that can be leaky.
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Kristian: Ellerbe, Hill miss practice - Saints thinning at tight end

Injury Report: The Saints are really thin at tight end headed into this week's match up with the Giants.Tight End Josh Hill (ankle) missed practice today, along with LB Dannell Ellerbe (quad). Left Tackle Terron Armstead (quad) was limited in practice, which means he took less than his usual number of practice reps in the team portion of practice. Not that big of a deal. The Saints could decide to activate Garret Griffin from the practice squad before the game, or use FB John Kuhn in certain formations.

Matchups: Last week, the Saints couldn't sniff a sack against the Raiders. Will that be the case this week against the New York Giants? The Giants are nearly as good as the Raiders offensive line, but I'm just not sold on the Saints pass rush ability. Paul Kruger, in his second week with the team, should be able to help in that area, and he had some pressure on a couple of plays last week - but against this New York offense the Saints have to get some pressure on Eli Manning or they're in trouble against Odell Beckham Jr, Victor Cruz and Sterling Shepard.

The vibe: In the locker room is always interesting to pay attention to. I would describe it as focused and task oriented, but you also get a sense the team understands the urgency needed to avoid and 0 and 2 start. Confidence comes from demonstrated ability, and right now the Saints haven't demonstrated enough ability, so I wonder how much confidence they have. I don't anticipate another wild game like we saw last year between these two teams. The Saints won that game 52-49, I expect to see some offense but there is no way we will see another game like that for a long time!
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Kristian: 5 takeaways from Saints loss to Raiders

Any loss is disappointing, but the Saints' opening loss to the Raiders in week one was especially tough to watch. The Saints had a 14 point lead in the second half only to be outdone by the Raiders in the end 35-34. The Saints are going to spin it "Hey, it's the way games are played these days in the NFL." I would tell you that's half true - it's the way games are going to be played for the Saints this season!

Here are five things I'm thinking about after the loss to the Oakland Raiders.

1. The offense is probably better than we thought they would be. That's a pretty good defense the Saints posted over 500 yards of total offense against, albeit for a loss. The running game wasn't as good as you would like, but the big play offense and quick strike was there for the Saints. The Saints bogged down in the second half, but man, at some point the defense has to bail you out.

2. I'm concerned with the Saints inability to run the football. That's going to be their eventual undoing against a better defense. If the Saints continue to struggle running the football we'll see more shoot outs like we saw against the Raiders. While the offensive line protected Drew Brees well against Oakland, they failed to consistently open up running lanes. That hurt the Saints late in the game to salt the win away.

3. The Saints defense looked improved through the first three quarters of the game, but in crunch time it looked like the same defense we saw last year. I know that might be really unfair, but really good defenses don't give up over 150 yards rushing EVER, and don't squander 14 point second half leads. I'm just saying, while there were some positive signs, it simply wasn't enough to inspire confidence the team can win without the offense scoring a ton of points.

READ MORE: Sean Payton's post-game press conference

4. Spare me of the argument the Saints were robbed of this game by the officials. A key pass interference call on LB Craig Robertson helped sustain a final Raiders drive, but that's not what cost the Saints the game. "I"m not going to start the year paying a fine," Saints Coach Sean Payton said when asked about the officiating. With that said, Payton acknowledged that call wasn't the reason the team lost. The Raiders committed 14 penalties in this game, with 141 yards. That's a stat I focus on, because typically you don't win doing that.

5. Expect more of the same this season, the Saints will find themselves in a few more games like this. Shoot outs will be expected, and the Saints will come out on the right side of some of them and the wrong side of others, leading to an up and down season. Get used to it! It's the new normal for the Saints.

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MMQB: Brees has record-setting day as Saints lose to Oakland

Saints Quarterback Drew Brees cares more about W's than he does personal accomplishments, so yesterday's team 35-34 loss to the Raiders is his paramount concern.

Brees finished with 423 yards passing and 4 touchdowns in the loss to Oakland, but felt like the team left points on the board. "That (strip/sack fumble) was on me - the guys up front did a great job all game long against a really good pass rush. Guys made plays, just a couple of plays here and there where you say could have had had a TD or FG, which can make a difference in the game," he said. The big concern headed into the matchup with Oakland was how the the offensive line would hold up against a very good Raiders pass rush. The O-line played well, but the Raiders started to get to Brees late in the game and that caused some errant throws.

The Saints feel good about some of things they were able to accomplish on the offensive side of the ball, but it's time to move on. "24 hours you can focus on this, we have to begin to identify the things and areas we can get a lot better. If we want to accomplish some things that we set out to a accomplish, we have to improve and improve quickly. That's what week 1 to week 2 in NFL is about, it's a race to improve as quickly as you can," Brees explained.

With the 24 hour rule in effect, the Saints and Brees will face the New York Giants next week for their first road test of the season. "I know they'll have a plan for us, we'll have a plan for them. They've got an elite QB which always gives them a chance. They're a good football team, we're going to have to put our best effort forward," Brees added. The Saints were pretty banged up in this ball game, losing tight end Josh Hill to an injury, and CB Delvin Breaux as well.

To listen to Brees' full interview, click the link below.

FULL AUDIO: Drew Brees talks Oakland loss on "Monday Morning Quarterback"

Photo via USA TODAY
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Kristian: Can Saints recapture "Dome Field Advantage?"

The Saints are 7 and 9 at home in the Superdome the past two seasons, a far cry from their dominance in 2011. The Saints used to be unbeatable in the dome, and those days have changed. The Saints are trying to recapture that advantage and the solution is pretty simple to getting it back in their favor. "Play well," said coach Sean Payton. "We spent time in the off-season working to win more games. For us though it's just playing well." Sounds simple, but complex at the same time. The Who Dat Nation will be ready to make that building shake, that much is certain.

Dennis Allen will coach against his former team Sunday after the Raiders fired him following the 2014 season as the teams head coach. Allen took the high road and says this game isn't about getting revenge. "My focus is on getting my mind ready to call a game and getting our players ready to play a game." What would you expect him to say right? Rest assured Allen wants to stick to the team he was fired from. That's just human nature.

Saints linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (quad) has been ruled out for the season opener this Sunday against the Oakland Raiders. LT Terron Armstead (Quad), WR Michael Thomas (ankle) and TE Chris Manhertz (head) are all listed as questionable for this week. Ellerbe not playing is a pretty big blow for a defense that is trying to get off to a fast start and play with speed. Ellerbe had a solid training camp and it looked as though we were finally starting to see the player he was in Baltimore before injuries really started taking a toll in Miami and his first season with the Saints last year.
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Saints rookie WR Michael Thomas lands on injury report

Injury report: Rookie WR Mike Thomas was limited today in practice listed with an ankle injury. It's unclear at this time how he sustained the injury. I would venture a guess he should be OK for this week's season opener against the Oakland Raiders. Thomas had a sensational training camp and pre-season and I expect him to make a significant impact in his rookie season.

LB Dannell Ellerbe (Quad) did not practice, and LT Terron Armstead (Quad/Knee) was limited in practice and said today the plan is for him to play Sunday. Ellerbe has been healthy all summer until this latest injury. Ellerbe appeared on the injury report 13 weeks last season. He seems to be snake bit by injuries. Tight End Chris Manhertz (Head) also listed on the injury report but fully participated in practice.

Jahri Evans: He was brought back to the Saints this week after the team cut him in a cost cutting move this off-season and he went to training camp with the Seattle Seahawks, but was released in the final round of cuts. I had a chance to catch up with the All Pro guard after practice: "I knew that I was only going to play for two teams, and the other one was the Saints, and I'm happy to be back." Evans says he expects to play this week, but stopped short of saying he's going to start against Oakland. I think Evans does start this week and will be an upgrade at right guard. He also said there is no ill will after the break up with the Saints this spring, and he has plenty of respect for the decision to go in a different direction earlier this year.

Young Corners: The Saints are headed into the season opener against Oakland's explosive offense with some inexperienced corner's in PJ Willimas, De'Vante Harris, and Ken Crawley figuring to get some significant playing time. Williams is entering his second season in the league, Harris and Crawley are undrafted rookies with a bright future. I expect the Raiders to focus a lot of their offensive game plan on attacking the young group of corners opposite of Delvin Breaux on Sunday. I also expect to see Breaux moved around and shadow the Raiders best offensive threat in WR Amari Cooper during the game. Williams and Harris insist that nerves will be present but they're up for the challenge and embrace the amount of footballs that might come their way.
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Jahri Evans back with the Saints

The Saints are bringing back their Pro Bowl guard Jahri Evans. He signed with the team today, according to a league source.

Evans was let go in the offseason as a cost-cutting measure, but he is going to be able to come in right away and start this Sunday for the Saints against the Oakland Raiders.

Evans was in training camp with the Seattle Seahawks, but did not make their 53 man roster, and was susequently released. He was in a tryout yesterday and is now officially a member of the Saints.
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Saints release QB Garrett Grayson

​The Saints have released back up QB Garret Grayson, according to a league source.

Grayson joined the Saints as a 2015 draft pick in the 3rd round out of Colorado State. That's two draft picks from the 2015 that have been cut this week, and he could be back if he clears waivers - the Saints would likely add him to the practice squad.

The Saints simply need the roster spot, and carrying three QB's is a bit of luxury the team can't afford right now. Grayson threw four interceptions in the preseason so the move isn't all that surprising.
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Kristian: Saints making more roster moves

The Saints continue to make roster moves ahead of week one this week against the Oakland Raiders.

The team is releasing veteran CB Cortland Finnegan. He was brought in during training camp, but the Saints are rolling the dice with some younger players opposite of Delvin Breaux. CB's P.J Williams, D'Evante Harris, and Ken Crawley haven't taken an NFL snap in a regular season game. Risky? Sure but how much was he going to play ahead of those guys? Plus, the Saints have Brian Dixon on the practice squad as insurance.

After releasing Finnegan, the Saints have signed veteran CB Sterling Moore. He entered the league in 2011 with the New England Patriots and spent last season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Moore was in training camp with the Buffalo Bills before being released over the weekend.

The Saints signed K Will Lutz to the practice squad over the weekend and promptly promoted him to the active roster and released kicker Kai Forbath. Lutz spent training camp with the Baltimore Ravens, and went udrafted this spring out of Georgian State.
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Kristian: Brees and Saints in contract talks?

Saints Quarterback Drew Brees set a the deadline in the spring, and the Saints are apparently trying to meet that deadline on a new contract this week.

Brees said back in the spring that he would want contract negotiations to be wrapped up before the start of the regular season or it would be shelved until the off-season. Brees and the Saints are reportedly talking extension talk this week, according to Jason Locanfora of Fox Sports. The report from Locanfora also says Brees is seeking 4 years $100 million dollars.

I expect these talks to intensify this week, as we get closer to week 1 in the NFL on Sunday. I would imagine a Brees deal with the Saints could come in this week and be worth $60 million in guaranteed money. Brees is 37 this season and will turn 41 before a new contract would expire under these parameters.

The Saints began assembling their practice squad yesterday after players cleared waivers. Here are the names comprising the 10 member practice squad players.

WR Jordan Williams Lambert (In camp with the Saints)
DE Bobby Richardson (starter in 2015)
CB Brian Dixon
C Jack Allen
LB Tony Steward
WR Jake Lampman
OL John Fullington
FB Austin Johnson
TE Garret Griffin
K Will Lutz

Bringing back Bobby Richardson to the practice squad is a good luxury for the Saints, after he started for them a year ago. Also FB Austin Johnson returning the practice squad is another nice keep by the Saints with veteran experience.

​The team also brought back two players they cut over the weekend in DE Darryl Tapp, and RB Travaris Cadet according to the league's transaction wire. The Saints also placed rookie DT Sheldon Rankins on Injured Reserve. The league allows you to place one player on injured reserve and then recall him. The player has to start on injured reserve and be out at least six weeks and then you have an additional two weeks to bring him back to action. Rankins likely won't return until the Saints play the San Francisco 49ers on November 6th. Rankins had surgery to repair his broken fibula suffered in training camp.
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Saints trim roster to 53; see who is released

Ahead of the league mandate of 3pm today the Saints trimmed their roster to 53 players for the regular season. The following players have been released.

OT Tyrus Thompson
K Connor Barth
DE Chris McCain
OT Tony Hills
OL Khalif Barnes
DE Davis Tull
FB Austin Johnson
TE Garret Griffin
C Marcus Henry
LB Jeff Schoettmer
OL John Fullington
CB Brian Dixon
WR Jake Lampman
DE Bobby Richardson
C Jack Allen
DE Darryl Tapp
DT C.J Wilson
DB Trae Elston
OL Joe Cheek
WR Jordan Williams-Lambert

The Saints placed TE Michael Hoomanawanui on injured reserve with an undisclosed injury. His 2016 season is over.

The Saints won't officially announce their cuts until Monday.

Bobby Richardson made this team a year ago as an undrafted rookie free agent, but couldn't make the team this year. Davis Tull was a 5th round draft pick in 2015 and spent last season on IR, but could return to the practice squad if he clears waivers.

Every year the roster changes after week one of the regular season, so you can expect more changes to the final roster, and in particular as other teams make roster moves the Saints could decide to sign a couple of players that were released by other NFL clubs.

Tomorrow the Saints can begin assembling their 10 member practice squad once players that were released clear waivers.​

Sunday join Kristian 10am-Noon to recap LSU vs Wisconsin and some of the other monster games from Saturday. Plus - the Saints trim their roster to 53 players, who were the surprise cuts? And we'll go position group by position group and figure out where the Saints roster is strong and where it's weak.
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Kristian: Which Saints are "on the bubble?"

The preseason is over, and now the Saints have to trim their roster to 53 players and 10 practice squad players that will comprise the 2016 team. Tough decisions await Sean Payton and the coaching staff this weekend ahead of the league's 3pm deadline. Here is a preview of how the roster could shake out and who might be on the bubble at various positions.

Garret Grayson: While it would be a little early to project Grayson being in jeopardy, it could be interesting to see how the Saints evaluate Grayson's growth in his second season. Grayson threw 4 interceptions in the preseason and has been erratic at times, looking poised with some strong passes but also looking a bit confused at times. The Saints backup offensive linemen made Grayson's evaluation a little difficult because he was consistently under pressure from opposing defenses.

Marcus Murphy: The Saints 7th round pick from a year ago found himself in Sean Payton's dog house after ball security issues crept up in his game last season and in the preseason this year. Murphy can still help the Saints offense in the running game as a third down back but his role will primarily be as a returner. Un-drafted rookie free agent Tommylee Lewis appeared to have leapfrogged him for the teams primary punt return position, and RB C.J. Spiller saw extensive action as the teams kick returner in the preseason.

Connor Barth & Kai Forbath: It's not always the most interesting position battle to watch, but Kai Forbath and Connor Barth have been impressive in the preseason, and it's hard to tell who has the leg up in this competition. I really believe the Saints could go either way and be fine at kicker this season. I also think whoever doesn't win the job could end up keeping an apartment in town in case the other fails early in the regular season. Payton doesn't have a lot of patience with kickers as we all know.

Tommylee Lewis: While he's been impressive and is clearly the darling of training camp, I just wonder if he gets caught up in a numbers game, and the Saints might feel like they can slip him to the practice squad for a game or two and call him up to the active roster. If the numbers aren't favorable to keep Lewis, that's going to be a roll of the dice to expose him to waivers. Another team might snatch him up quickly.

Davis Tull: The Saints fifth round draft pick in 2015 might be the odd man out, after the Saints acquired two players this week that play his position. As it were, Tull was already stacked behind Kasim Edebali and Obum Gwachem, and with the additions of Chris McCain and Paul Kruger this week I suspect Tull's days in Black and Gold might be numbered.
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