Steve: Who to keep an eye on in Saints vs. Raiders
by Steve Geller,posted Aug 16 2013 12:51AM
Ok, so last week’s opening touchdown drive by the Chiefs was the absolute LAST thing Saints fans wanted to see from the defense to start the 2013 season. It was frightening déjà vu of last year’s squad that surrendered 6 yards here, 12 yards there, another 9 yards after that, bing-bang-boom…TOUCHDOWN.
Sure once K.C.’s 2nd teamers came in the D looked better, but the Saints defense won’t be facing 2nd stringers once the preseason ends. It’s not panic button time yet… BUT if the putrid Raiders 1st team offense manages to shred the Fleur Dis Lis D, my newsroom might start getting calls of Who Dats ready to jump off the newly refurbished Huey P.
So 1st team defense is the obvious thing I’ll be looking for in tonight’s contest; here are 3 players to be watching:
Quarterback Seneca Wallace
The battle to be Brees’ back-up really heats up this week as Seneca Wallace returned to practice after missing time with a groin injury and should get the majority of snaps vs. Oakland. I know a lot of folks feel Luke McCown did a good job last week tossing 2 TDs with 1 INT and 216 yards passing, but what I saw was a number of underthrown balls that were fortunate to be caught. Big props to the wide receivers!
I am anxious to see what Wallace is capable of in Coach Sean Payton’s offense; plus I love the fact that he brings the dual threat of being a mobile QB. Having him around for the defense to go up against in practice during the season would help a lot in getting ready for the likes of Cam Newton, Josh Freeman, Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson.
Inside Linebacker David Hawthorne
With Jonathan Vilma on the shelf for at least the remainder of the preseason, it’s Hawthorne’s time to shine as a 1st stringer. Honestly, even if Vilma was healthy, Hawthorne has looked better in training camp and would likely be the starter alongside Curtis Lofton anyway.
Hawthorne missed time last season with a hamstring injury in his first year in New Orleans, managing just 38 tackles in 11 games. Hopefully we will see a return of the player he was when he was in Seattle. In his final 2 seasons in a Seahawks uniform he totaled 221 tackles with 2 sacks, 4 interceptions, 2 fumble recoveries and 10 pass deflections. At 28 years old, Hawthorne still has plenty left in the tank.
Running Back Khiry Robinson
K-Rob is the latest undrafted free agent running back gem the Saints have unearthed. The23 year old from West Texas A&M is a hard runner and has even shown the ability to block in pass protection.
Robinson chewed up the clock in the Saints win over the Chiefs, leading the team with 52 yards on 12 carries. Chris Ivory was a fan favorite before getting traded, but the new #29 may prove to be an even better find.