Preseason as a whole can be a drag, but Week 3 usually provides the one game with some redeeming qualities. Sure, all four weeks are interesting to watch for the die-hards who are intrigued by the position battles, but most fans enjoy the third game more than the others. The reason for that is that Week 3 is a quasi-dress rehearsal. Majority of the teams in the NFL will play their starters for a half or so, but teams like the New Orleans Saints only give us one series with guys like Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara, and Michael Thomas. Thankfully, that one drive from the big three was very entertaining. The Saints took the opening drive 72 yards for a touchdown, which kickstarted an eventual 28-13 win over the New York Jets. Let’s take a look at who helped along the way.
He only saw the field for one drive that included just two catches, but both of them were very impressive. The first was a 20 yard reception in which Thomas went up between multiple defenders and pulled the ball down for a 20 yard gain. It was a dangerous throw from Brees, but Michael Thomas did what Michael Thomas does and made it look easy. His second catch was another good one, along with a beautiful throw from Brees. It was a 19 yard touchdown reception, capping off an impressive opening drive for the Saints and their 1st team offensive unit. They looked so good, Sean Payton was pleased enough to pull most of the starters out for the rest of the game.
We all know Lattimore can cover, but the play he made last night was a whole different dimension that was that was great to see. Ty Montgomery took a handoff around the left edge, where he was met by Lattimore, who simply stripped the ball right out of his hands and gave the Saints great field position to add a field goal and extend their lead. There is more than one way to be a ball hawk for a defender and Lattimore showed it.
I can not explain how excited I am to finally be able to talk about this guy. After a hot start in practice to open Training Camp, Butler went down with an undisclosed injury that sidelined him for six practices and the opening preseason game. He came back in time to suit up for Week 2 in Los Angeles, but showed signs of rust by dropping a wide open pass that hit him right in the hands. Thankfully, he looked like the guy we saw early in camp last night. He hauled in 4 receptions, with each of them looking equally impressive. There was nothing out of the ordinary about them, but they way Butler used his hands to snag the ball out of the air made him look like he belongs on an NFL field. He also did a good job of using his big 6’4″ frame to box out defenders and prevent them from having any chance. He could benefit from another solid game in the final week of preseason, but he would be my 6th and final receiver to make the roster if it were up to me.
I had to save the best performance for last here. Despite fumbling (and recovering) the ball on one of his returns, Harris did everything he needed to do to lock down his spot as the Saints return man. For the third straight game, he flashed the ability to find a seam in the coverage and slash his way for some good yardage on the return. He was already having a solid game, then halfway through the 4th quarter, he took a punt return 78 yards for a touchdown. He has seemed to be just one broken tackle or one block away from springing loose up until that point and he finally made it happen. Sure, the Saints brought in Marcus Sherels to be their return man, but he has been hurt all through training camp, leaving the door open for Harris to make his case. At this point, I do not see a way that the Saints could not keep Harris for the 53 man roster. He has been too damn good.
I mentioned in last week’s Saints and Sinners that I try to avoid putting someone on either of the lists based off of one good or bad play, but during the preseason, I have to make an exception due to limited snaps. In that case, Williams finds himself as the lone Sinner due to one bad defensive play. What’s even more crazy is that the play did not even hurt the Saints, but it was something that could cost New Orleans dearly if he does the same thing during the regular season. Sam Darnold took a deep shot to Quincy Enunwa that fell incomplete thanks to great coverage by Eli Apple. How does Marcus Williams fit in, you ask? Williams was supposed to have safety help over the top, but instead, crashed on Enunwa’s route way to hard and ended up having to turn and chase behind both Enunwa and Apple. That simply cannot happen. If Apple had stayed underneath the receiver and trusted the safety help over the top, it would have been a touchdown. Williams needs to get better at being less aggressive and play more patient like a centerfielder.
That will do it for this week, folks. It was a pretty clean game for the Saints, which is why I could only justify putting Williams on the Sinners list. It’s always a good thing when that happens, so here’s to hoping we have the same situation a good bit when the games actually count. Thank you guys for stopping by and I’ll see y’all right back here after Thursday when we wrap up the preseason!