Sep 7, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) hands the ball to New Orleans Saints running back Khiry Robinson (29) in their game against the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome. The Falcons won 37-34 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
The New Orleans Saints look to pick up their first win of the early season when they face the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday. The Saints return to the Superdome, where they finished a perfect 8-0 last season. Most people would say that this is a must win situation for the black and gold, and I’d tend to agree. Just remember, the New Orleans Saints’ season is far from over.
Impact players are those who have an influence or effect on the outcome of a game, both positively or negatively. For the Saints, I have selected five impact players who can rapidly dictate how the team fares.
With Mark Ingram out of action for at least a month, this is a perfect opportunity for second year running back Khiry Robinson to turn some heads. Robinson has a 4.2 yard average currently on 14 attempts. The Saints rushing attack is in the top five of the NFL in this very young season. They have churned out 313 yards and have 156.5 yards/game on the ground. Robinson should share a more expanded role with Pierre Thomas, but would appear as the team’s first option in the run game.
Someone on the New Orleans Saints’ defense must start producing sacks and start leading the charge, and my money is on Junior Galette. The Saints defense, who finished in the top five in the NFL last year with 49 sacks, have only two sacks through two games. The defense should feed off of the home crowd in this crucial game, and we’d hope to find some type of success sacking quarterback Matt Cassel, who went down six times last week against the New England Patriots.
The Saints defense needs their leader and quarterback on defense to rise to the occasion. There seems to be a missing element on this year’s defense, and that’s the veteran leadership. Curtis Lofton, like Galette, is a player that can help spark this Saints’ defensive unit. He’s the definition of consistent, as he’s led the Saints in tackles for two straight seasons. I’m betting that a player’s only meeting might have occurred this week with the defense, and they will rally around each other. Look for Curtis Lofton to be a huge force in stopping an Adrian Peterson-less rushing attack that features Matt Asiata.
For the third straight week, Patrick Robinson falls on my list. Say what you will about the past two performances, but with no official moves from the Saints this week (so far), it points to all signs that Robinson will play again on Sunday. He should be tasked with most likely defending against wide receiver Greg Jennings (Keenan Lewis should take Cordarrelle Patterson). Jennings has not exactly had the type of impact he once had with the Green Bay Packers since joining the Vikings in 2013, but he remains a heavily favored target in the Vikings offense. I think we’re all more interested to see if the Saints introduce the defense or offense on Sunday, because Robinson is liable to draw some flack from the Who Dats.
Unfortunately, Marques Colston was M.I.A. in last week’s game. Colston didn’t even see a single target from Drew Brees. That’s very uncharacteristic to see, but when you think about it, Brees didn’t exactly have much time to survey the field. Colston is usually his favorite or second favorite target. The Saints have dressed four wide receivers in each of the first two games. With Mark Ingram hurt, it’s a safe assumption that the team will likely dress a fifth receiver on Sunday. I look for the balance to stay the same for the New Orleans Saints offense, but I think Colston is going to be in for a big game.
Who do you think is poised to be an impact player on Sunday? Sound off below!