After several long months, football is finally back in the Big Easy. The Saints kickoff their preseason opener tonight against the Minnesota Vikings in the Mercedes Benz Superdome. These two teams have seen each other a lot in the last two seasons with three games played, all at U.S. Bank Stadium. This is also a rare match-up for the preseason for both squads. Here is what to look forward to from a Saints’ perspective:
Teddy B & Mormon Hercules
We all know Drew Brees gets the be a sideline coach during the preseason so we should expect to see Teddy Bridgewater and Taysom Hill control the offense. More than likely each one will get a half to showcase their command. Hill showed some promise last year especially with his legs. This time around, we hope to see him become more comfortable as a passer to warrant a shot as a starter in the future. Bridgewater is the more intriguing one to watch considering he was brought in before the final preseason game last season. We got to see him perform in Week 17 against the Panthers and did an ok job for his first game action in almost three years. With a full off-season under his belt, he should be more comfortable and hopefully has a solid turnout.
Return To Sender
The Saints made a big emphasis this off-season to improve the special teams unit. They brought in former Dolphins special teams coordinator Darren Rizzi where he was well known for his development of returner Jakeem Grant. Wil Lutz was also signed to a five-year extension to give comfort to the kicking position after a near perfect season. Of course, there is that guy named Thomas Morstead who is just so good at his job. The only question mark is the returner spot on kickoffs and punts. Marcus Sherels was brought in on a one-year deal and word is he has practically won the job. But, for guys like Devine Ozigbo, Cyril Grayson and Deonte Harris, to name a few, this is an opportunity to make the cut by showing versatility and reliability in the hidden yardage aspect of the game.
Wide Open (Literally)
The receiving corps will finally get their first crack at earning a roster spot. Tre’Quan Smith has shown a lot of improvement and took advantage of extra reps while Michael Thomas was getting his contract extension situated. It is unsure if Keith Kirkwood and Emmanuel Butler will play given their recent injuries in camp. Simmie Cobbs will be looking forward to his first game action with the Saints after signing late last season. Austin Carr has also been making strides in camp to prove his worth but will also press his luck on special teams. Lil Jordan Humphrey is the one to watch the most given he has not made a lot of noise so far but could be viable for a spot on the practice squad if he shows enough promise. This position group will definitely be the highlight of the night.
Several other positions will have a plethora of rotations. The interior of the offensive line will be intriguing given the versatility of several players. Erik McCoy seems to be inching his way closer to the starting job. Nick Easton is also competing to find his role in the rotation. Cameron Tom and Will Clapp will be looking to build from their experience last season when injuries occurred.
On the defensive side, the carousel in the secondary should be fun to watch. CJ Gardner-Johnson should see some time in the nickel as well at safety. Saquan Hampton has been impressive in his development so far, even earning first team reps. Ken Crawley is on the outside looking in and will have to be almost perfect to stay on the team. Kayvon Webster is a savvy veteran who is looking to get his career back on track. There are also a good number of young guys who will look to make the most of every opportunity given.
Overall it is great to have Saints football back on the field. Another preseason with a roster stacked with talent and not enough spots for them all. At the end of the day, the Who Dat Nation is excited to get back to the Dome and cheer for the Black & Gold. Let the games begin!
Follow Dom Lewis on Twitter @bigfella122