Perhaps the road trip got a bit long. Perhaps the New Orleans Saints and New England Patriots were tired of seeing each other.
A glorified scrimmage primarily consisting of reserve players ended with the Patriots beating the Saints 7-6 in a real yawner. A number of players did not play for the Saints. Fortunately, there were no other injuries sustained in the game of note.
There were some bright spots and there were some not so bright spots to point to. Here are my immediate first takes:
**Drew Brees is a tremendous competitor. You could see in his facial expressions that he was disappointed to leave without doing any damage after two drives. In his defense, receivers were not open. No worries--he and the offense will be fine.
**Chase Daniel had a nice drive going but he was very slightly late with his throw on the interception by Steve Gregory on the tip by Jerod Mayo. Daniel made a perfect throw to Courtney Roby in the seam of a zone for 30 yards. Roby displayed excellent concentration to reel it in despite the safety closing on him. As I stated last week, Daniel needs to run the ball less and quit cheating fate.
**Speaking of Roby, he distinguished himself well again. He backed up a four-catch game against the Cardinals with a five-catch, 85-yard game against New England. With Nick Toon and Adrian Arrington not playing for a second straight week, Roby is showing Saints coaches that he can play receiver, along with his kick return ability and gunner role on special teams, increasing his chance of making the team.
**Another receiver that continues to impress is Andy Tanner. He gets open and catches the football, snaring four more receptions against New England. If he does not make it in New Orleans, he has shown that he can play somewhere in the league.
**Despite his blazing speed, Joseph Morgan has work to do to make the team. He made a shaky judgment to try to return a punt with a gunner in his face early in the game and had another drop of a pass that he should have caught.
**Luke McCown failed to get the ball deep enough to a wide open Joseph Morgan late in the third quarter which may have been a touchdown. It did result in a pass interference call. The pass was woefully underthrown. McCown has lots of experience but was not very impressive and Sean Canfield struggled and simply lacks the arm strength needed to make the throws necessary in the NFL.
**The Saints defense tackled well in the open field, much better than they did against Arizona. Jonathan Casillas, Corey White, Jonathon Amaya, Will Herring and Turk McBride all made open field tackles of note. Casillas was very good in pursuit. That said, the Patriots had some success running the football, running for 126 yards.
**Akiem Hicks made a statement. Despite being double-teamed, he batted down a pass at the line-of-scrimmage. He later had a big pressure of Ryan Mallet which resulted in a Marquis Johnson interception.
**Will Smith and Cameron Jordan had a sack, resulting in a fumble which Curtis Lofton recovered. Jordan is an improved player.
**After a very good game against Arizona, Martez Wilson made a pair of bonehead plays against New England. First, he jumped offside on a punt, giving the Patriots a first-down. Then, he gave the Patriots new life by running into the punter. They might want to try someone else in that outside rush position or teach him restraint. You cannot cost Drew Brees time and possessions.
**Junior Galette again showed his pass rush ability, hitting the arm of Ryan Mallett to force an incomplete pass.
**In a positive development, the Saints are plus -3 in turnover margin through two games. Despite the games not counting, that is a good sign.
**Jermon Bushrod was flagged twice on the same series for holding first-round draft choice Chandler Jones. His initial pressure helped create the sack/fumble caused by Will Smith and Cameron Jordan on Tom Brady.
**42-year old John Kasay may have missed an opportunity. Though he is on the outside looking in, he missed a 41-yard field goal despite making a 46-yard field goal earlier. In defense of Kasay, Chase Daniel did not do a good job on the hold as Kasay made contact with the football with directly on the laces. While Kasay is pushing him, it is still Garrett Hartley's job to lose. Hartley made his 27-yard field goal attempt.
**LSU's Stevan Ridley had eight carries for 40 yards and appears poised to start for the Patriots at running back.
**Swanson Miller and Tyrunn Walker each jumped offside once to set up the New England touchdown.
**How good was the Saints defense in the first half? The Patriots did not snap the football in Saints territory until their final play of the first half, a missed 53-yard field goal by Stephen Gostkowski. Steve Spagnuolo's concepts and scheme may be ahead of schedule.
**Penalties were a negative as the Saints incurred 10 infractions for 66 yards. Welcome to preseason football!
**Though he was not as noticeable as he was against Arizona. Travaris Cadet was solid again. He caught six more passes and rushed for 26 yards. He was given a chance to return punts as well.
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