New Orleans Saints

Walker: Preseason opener should inspire 'kid in candy store' feeling in Saints fans

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) throws the ball during an NFL football training camp in Metairie, La., Thursday, July 27, 2017.
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) throws the ball during an NFL football training camp in Metairie, La., Thursday, July 27, 2017. AP

DeVante Harris was speaking for himself.

But the cornerback just as easily could have been speaking on behalf of every Saints fan when he was asked how excited he is about Thursday night.

"I'm like a kid in a candy store," Harris said. "I'm ready."

The Saints play the Cleveland Browns at First Energy Stadium at 7 p.m. Thursday in the preseason opener for both teams.

The good: Football is back.

The bad: It's only preseason.

The ugly: Well, that's how the Saints have fared in the preseason in recent years.

The last time the Saints won a preseason football game was way back on August 23, 2014. Many of the players on this year's team weren't even around that night the Saints traveled to the Indianapolis Colts and won 23-17. The Saints have lost nine consecutive preseason games since then, going 0-4 each of the past two seasons.

Drew Brees returned from an oblique injury and threw two touchdown passes in that Saints preseason win three years ago. Chances are, he won't play long enough (if he plays at all) to even throw two passes, let alone two touchdowns, Thursday.

The real games don't start until another 4½ weeks when the Saints travel to Minnesota for a Monday Night Football regular season opener.

As Brees will quickly tell you, wins or losses now have no bearings on wins and losses come September.

"I don't think (the preseason) is reflective of your performance during the regular season," Brees said. "You're only showing so much. When the starters are in there, you want to perform well. You want to execute well. You don't want there to be mistakes all over the field, or mental errors or lack of effort."

The Saints and the Browns were the only two teams in the NFL to go winless in the preseason a year ago.

If the Saints lose to the lowly Browns, who have lost five straight preseason games and finished 1-15 in the regular season last year, there is no need to panic.

And on the flip side, if the Saints win convincingly, there is no need to start booking plane reservations for Minneapolis, site of Super Bowl LII.

One thing we've learned over the years is that success in the preseason doesn't always carry over into the season.

Just ask the 2008 Detroit Lions, who went 4-0 in the preseason before putting together one of the worst seasons in NFL history, going 1-15 that year.

Some teams, however, have been able to transfer their preseason into the regular season.

Eight teams (1967 Packers, 1969 Chiefs, 1971 Cowboys, 1974 Steelers, 1990 Giants, 2003 Patriots, and 2013 Seahawks) went undefeated in the preseason and went on to win the Super Bowl.

Saints fans likely won't have to worry about that.

The Saints, entering the 51st season in franchise history, have never gone undefeated in the preseason.

"Do you want to win? Yeah," Brees said. "But that's not a record that is ever reflected on anybody's stat sheet at the end of their career."

But still, Brees admits it would be good to get a win. It would end the current nine-game preseason losing streak, the longest active streak in the league.

"We are all prideful and we play to win," Brees said.

But for now, let's just be glad the Saints are playing.

Football is back. Sorta.

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