Jul 28, 2014; White Sulpher Springs, WV, USA; New Orleans Saints tight end Nic Jacobs (83) blocks outside linebacker Rufus Johnson Jr. (59) during training camp at The Greenbrier. Mandatory Credit: Michael Shroyer-USA TODAY Sports
Can you feel it yet, Who Dat Nation? The season is so close!
The New Orleans Saints take on the St. Louis Rams on Friday, which officially kicks off the 2014 preseason for the black and gold. There’s limitless areas, storylines, and positions we will all be paying close attention to as the preseason progresses. Personally, I’m interested in a host of players and their performances. Which players you might be asking? It’s easy to say ‘watch Brandin Cooks,’ based on the training camp buzz around him, so for the sake of this, we will not have him on this list.
I give you five Saints players that I’m watching intently on Friday.
Senio Kelemete, Guard
Whatever is going on with Ben Grubbs is all speculation at this point. In the mean time, we have to focus on what we have to work with today, which is Senio Kelemete. You might remember me talking about Kelemete in April. However, in case you forgot, it’s simple: Kelemete learns from Ben Grubbs and Jahri Evans, two of the best guards in the business. Kelemete has been working with the first team during training camp, and watching him handle the ‘beef’ up front of the Rams will be quite interesting to see. Should Grubbs have some type of long-term issue, then we all need to hope that Kelemete continues to impress.
Marcus Ball, Safety
If you don’t know about Marcus Ball yet, then start with my article back in April. Marcus Ball is Roman Harper 2.0, with more upside. Ball has been impressive in training camp, and is proving to be quite a find for the team. Rob Ryan is said to have a very new type of defensive scheme in play for this season, and he loves his safeties. Ball may be behind the likes of Kenny Vaccaro, Jairus Byrd, and Rafael Bush, but is going to be one to make an impact Friday.
Brandon Coleman, Wide Receiver
Coleman may not be on many people’s radar for the Saints 53-man roster this year (see the wide receiver battle). In actuality, Coleman has a real opportunity to sneak in as the team’s sixth receiver, or definitely make the team’s practice squad. How Coleman fares in live action will spell all of the difference for his outlook, but I’m personally intrigued by the 6’6″ undrafted wideout from Rutgers. You might see some nice chemistry evolve between Coleman and quarterback Ryan Griffin.
Khairi Fortt, Linebacker
Defensively, the Saints have veteran leader Curtis Lofton and veteran David Hawthorne in firm command of the Saints middle. However, there’s some intrigue around the guys behind Lofton/Hawthorne. Veteran Ramon Humber and second year player Kevin Reddick are listed as the team’s backups to Lofton/Hawthorne. At inside linebacker, the team could use a strong playmaker to compliment Lofton after this year (not trying to get that far ahead of myself). If Fortt is completely healthy, then he has a strong chance to contribute now, at least on special teams.
Derek Dimke, Kicker
For the sake of this game, both Shayne Graham and Derek Dimke have the advantage of kicking in a dome. Why is this important? Well, there’s quite a kicking battle going on right now. Ten of the Saints games are going to be inside a dome this year (eight at home, two on the road), so you can expect that coach Sean Payton wants to see what Dimke can do outside of practice. Graham and Dimke may alternate field go attempts, but we will all want to see if Dimke is the ‘real deal’.
Which players are you looking forward to seeing most on Friday? Let us know below!