Saints: Five takeaways from first preseason game

Tony Jones Jr., New Orleans Saints. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
Tony Jones Jr., New Orleans Saints. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /
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New Orleans Saints
New Orleans Saints. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /

The New Orleans Saints lost their first preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens last night, and while it’s just preseason, there are some important takeaways.

Out of caution, the Saints rested many of their high-profile players including Alvin Kamara, Demario Davis, Tre’Quan Smith, Marshon Lattimore, Ryan Ramczyk, Terron Armstead, and Cam Jordan.

Of those that did play, though, some names flashed, and others lagged behind. Remember, it’s just New Orleans’ first preseason game, and the NFL season is more a marathon than a sprint, but these are the areas we can point out and cautiously say, “That was good,” or, “Hmm, this needs work.”

Without any further ado, here are five takeaways from the Saints game last night.

5. Zach Baun, Kaden Elliss impressed

Good news for the Saints linebackers. The young players were all over the field yesterday: Zach Baun recorded five tackles (including a tackle for loss and a pass defense) and Kaden Elliss recorded eight tackles, a fumble recovery, a tackle for loss, and a pass defense.

Both have fared well in training camp so far, with Baun getting a slight edge, and their growth is all we wanted to see from the linebacker unit this season.

In the first quarter alone, Baun flashed several times and was one of the big reasons the Saints held the Ravens scoreless, despite three offensive turnovers (we’ll get to that). Ellis shined throughout the game but really impacted the last two quarters when he ended one of the Ravens offensive drives with a pass deflection and then recovered a fumble forced by Eric Burrell.

Saints fans have been desperately wanting a respectable linebacker group for some time, and though it’s much too early to call, this unit certainly looks promising. Keep it up.

4. Ian Book???

We put that many question marks next to Ian Book’s name because we’re still not sure what role he’ll have in the 2021 season. Book made his preseason debut in the second half for New Orleans, and some of his best plays came from screens to running backs. He did, however, find Easop Winston Jr on a 35-yard throw, his longest pass of the night.

Book ended up completing nine out of 16 passes for 126 yards, which were decent numbers for the likely third-string quarterback. But Book started to crack at the end of the fourth quarter when he connected with wideout Juwan Johnson on a long play, potentially setting the Saints up for a late stage comeback. Minutes later, he threw an interception.

More game time reps will tell if Book can be a dependable passer at the signal-caller position. The quarterback competition is already tough, and Book will need to prove himself much more.