Positives from the New Orleans Saints first preseason game
By Jake White
After the first preseason game versus the Baltimore Ravens, it’s clear that the New Orleans Saints have to get better at many different aspects, especially when it comes to the defensive line. The Saints finsihed the game with 16 penalties for 143 yards, which didn’t help their cause. Luckily it’s early and there is plenty of time to get things corrected. The New Orleans Saints will be practicing with the New England Patriots this upcoming week at camp before their preseason matchup in the Big Easy this weekend. Hopefully going against another team for a few days at practice will help clean up some of the sloppy play. With all that being said, there were some players who had a good game and stood out from the rest.
The guy that stood out to me the most was safety Jamarca Sanford. He finished the game with seven total tackles and a pass deflected. He seemed to be around the ball most of the game and didn’t hesitate to go hit someone. I thought he did a decent job covering the tight ends, also holding his own on special teams. With that fifth safety spot being wide open (if the Saints go with five), I believe he is the front-runner for it now.
Both Ryan Griffin and Garrett Grayson I thought played well. Neither really forced any passes and took what the defense was giving them. Griffin found Josh Hill three times including a 25-yard pass over the top of one linebacker. Then on the next play, he hit Khiry Robinson with a bullet pass down the middle for a touchdown. As for Grayson, I expected him to play an okay game, seeing as it was his first NFL game, however, that was not the case. He completed 8 out of 12 passes for 87 yards including 23-yard strike to Willie Snead, while having defensive linemen in his face. He was calm in the pocket and showed his athleticism a few times by running the ball. All around, I think both young quarterbacks had a solid first preseason game.
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Khiry Robinson seemed fired up to play this game. He didn’t play much, but when he was in the game he made the most of it. He had only two rushes, but got 35 yards including a hard 29-yard run up the middle. Not only did Robinson rush the ball well, but he also had a receiving touchdown right before the end of the half. In addition to all that, he had a good game on special teams blocking on kick returns.
Speaking of kick returning, how about the rookie from Missouri? It felt like Marcus Murphy was going to take it to the house every time he touched the ball. He showed how exceptional his vision was and seemed to set up his blocks nicely. Murphy finished with 132 yards on five kick returns, and that’s not including one return he brought out to the forty-yard line that was called back because of a hold. Murphy showed that he could handle the kick return duties if the Saints need him too. He also got his first touchdown of his NFL career on a nice toss sweep following the two-minute warning.
Those are the top players that stood out to me the most. However, Stanley Jean-Baptiste looked like he improved a bit this off-season. He seemed to be in the game more than most, yet the quarterback didn’t throw his way. I also thought the starting offensive line played well, except for a few plays by Jahri Evans. Seeing Terron Armstead and Max Unger blocking down the field on the Brandin Cooks screen pass was a beautiful and promising sight. Andrus Peat got to play most of the game and I thought he held his own. Another player I thought that had a good game was undrafted defensive linemen Kaleb Eulls. I think he made a case for himself to get more playing time next game with his tackle for loss and pass deflection.
All around it was not that great of a game for the New Orleans Saints, but there were some bright spots. The good news is that it’s only the first preseason game. There is no need for Saints fans to start to panic — there is plenty of time to get everything corrected and get back on track. Hopefully the team got all the injuries out of the way as well. The Saints host the Patriots Saturday, Aug. 22 in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.