The preseason opener for the New Orleans Saints is in the books, and the vibes are high. Here are three of four reasons why Saints fans should be excited.
Wow. So that was certainly a way to kick off the 2023 preseason for the New Orleans Saints. For their preseason opener, the Saints were hosting the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs, and given that both teams were playing the majority of their starters for one offensive drive each, there was reason to be excited since there may be SOME actual highlights to take out of the action.
That's not to say that the positives were limited to the first team however. The preseason is meant for starters to shake off rust and get some live reps in, but its primary function is to give those "bubble" guys a chance to show what they can do, or for backups showing they deserve more playing time once the regular season rolls around.
Since we had pretty much a full day to process everything, and let the initial excitement wear down a bit, let's take a look at four positives that the Saints and their fans can take away from the preseason debut, rationally speaking of course.
Derek Carr may just be the answer for the Saints
Let's begin with the obvious. Derek Carr looked AWESOME. On his lone drive, his first in a Saints uniform preseason or otherwise, Carr was able to slice and dice the Chiefs defense to the tune of 70 yards and a touchdown. He was also able to show that he isn't so easily rattled.
Carr also completed six of his eight passes, and displayed great accuracy. He also showed that he has trust in ALL of his wide receivers, as evident by the touchdown being caught by Keith Kirkwood of all people. Speaking of wide receivers...
The Saints wide receiver COULD BE one of the deepest in the NFL
Don't look now, but the wide receiver room of the Saints is looking mighty deep. We already mentioned how Kirkwood made a name for himself, but he wasn't the only one. Rookie A.T. Perry, who the Saints drafted in the sixth round of this year's draft out of Wake Forest, thrusted himself into the spotlight in a big way.
Perry caught six balls for 70 yards, the highlight being a 29-yard touchdown from James Winston. Perry is a big body at 6-feet-3-inches 205 pounds, and he looks like he could be a factor in this offense. If he is, not to mention some of the other whippersnappers who showed out in the preseason opener, then you are looking at a wide receiver room consisting of Perry, Rashid Shaheed, Chris Olave, and a little ballplayer by the name of Michael Thomas, at minimum. Not exactly shabby.
While we're on the topic of Thomas though...
Luckily for the Saints Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas are still really good at football
Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas have been mainstays on the Saints roster on the offensive side of the ball now. The term "roster" is used, because the times Thomas has actually been on the field in recent years have been few and far between. When he is though, he is still an absolute stud. After all, this is a guy who broke Marvin Harrison's catch record for a season. His 16-yard catch from Carr was certainly a welcome sight, as was the manner he was running his routes.
Then there's Alvin Kamara. We know that the last few months have been a real snafu, to the point where it was in danger of becoming a distraction. As a result, we know that Kamara will be suspended for the first three games. That didn't seem to faze him or the Saints, as the offense leaned on him as he carried the ball three times for 14 yards. Known as a receiving threat, the power and anger he seemed to be running with is something that could push this offense over the top, especially with the other backs they have behind him. Make no mistake, Kamara is still the man.
The Saints defense should be just fine, if not better
Now for some defense.
We know that the defense is the strength of this team, even if they may have had a down year, by their standards, a year ago, mainly due to their league-low seven interceptions.
That wasn't a problem against the Chiefs though, as safety Ugo Amadi was able to pick off a pass, that was tipped by cornerback Alontae Taylor, who himself very well could be the starting corner opposite Marshon Lattimore, so it was great to see he was there to play. Even big Kyle Phillips had himself an interception, which is always a welcome sight when a big man is running with the little ball.
Zack Baun also stood out, recording a sack and flying all over the field. Then there was the highlight of the defense, which was the 4th and short stuffing of the starting Chiefs offense. Andy Reid and company tried their usual trickery shenanigans with a direct snap to tight end Blake Bell, not Travis Kelce, and he was stuffed by the Saints defense. That caused the Sueprdome, and all Saints fans, to collectively explode.
Obviously we have a long way to go, and there is still actual football to be played once the regular season starts of course. For now though, it is totally justifiable for the New Orleans Saints and their fans to be even more pumped up for the 2023 season than they already were.