Brian Allee-Walsh

Six key takeaways from the Saints’ 2-2 run through the preseason

Saints fans march through city to boycott Super Bowl

New Orleans Saints fans still aren't over the officiating in the NFC Championship, as the took to the streets to protest the Rams taking on the Patriots in Super Bowl LIII.
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New Orleans Saints fans still aren't over the officiating in the NFC Championship, as the took to the streets to protest the Rams taking on the Patriots in Super Bowl LIII.

Mission accomplished.

Forget the 2-2 record. Forget that No. 3 quarterback Taysom Hill led the team in rushing and registered extremely high on my “Wow” scale, or that rookie center Erik McCoy had very little game work with quarterback Drew Brees (eight snaps).

Forget about it.

The most important thing — I repeat, most important — is that Saints coach Sean Payton will exit the preseason and enter the regular season with one of his healthiest 53-man rosters since his arrival in 2006. Even stud defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins could be available by Oct. 1 after suffering a torn Achilles tendon last January.

All three quarterbacks are healthy — Brees, Hill and backup Teddy Bridgewater. Alvin Kamara is healthy. Michael Thomas is healthy. Cameron Jordan is healthy. I believe Terron Armstead is healthy. Marcus Davenport is healthy. Demario Davis is healthy. Marshon Lattimore is healthy. Thomas Morstead is healthy. Wil Lutz is healthy.

So yeah, misson accomplished.

Oh, the Saints are dealing with their share of nicks and bruises but overall the team gets a clean bill of health going into their nationally televised season opener Sept. 9 against the Houston Texans at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

MY TAKEAWAYS FROM THE PRESEASON

The first snap Brees takes against the Texans in Game 1 will be his first meaningful snap inside the Superdome since training camp opened July 26. He hasn’t played in a home exhibition game since 2017 and likely won’t again unless the Game 3 dress rehearsal plays out in New Orleans.

Tight end Jared Cook signed a two-year, $15 million contract during the offseason that featured a $6 million signing bonus. He did not play one game snap with Brees during the preseason. In two abbreviated appearances, Cook played 31 snaps. He caught one of two targeted passes for four yards from Bridgewater against the Los Angeles Chargers. An ankle injury curtailed his on-field work at the end of preseason.

Thank goodness for Taysom Hill. He made the second halves of four preseason games bearable to watch, including Thursday night’s yawner, a 16-13 loss to the Miami Dolphins. The sports adage “you can’t tell the players without a roster’‘ came to mind more than once.

Once again, several unheralded players made a big splash and earned roster spots — wide receiver Emmanuel “eBay’‘ Butler and return specialist Deonte Harris. I’m going out on a limb here since I’m writing this dispatch prior to Saturday’s 3 p.m. cut-down deadline. But I’d be shocked if either didn’t make the 53.

Not sure if a solid third offensive tackle emerged during training camp, suggesting Payton might be looking to upgrade that spot outside of the Saints building in the coming days. Starting left guard Andrus Peat can always shift over to left tackle if injury-prone Armstead should go down. But the Saints appear to be need of a veteran swing tackle. Maybe team officials could convince Jermon Bushrod to forgo his announced retirement Thursday night and rejoin the team.

What the heck forced diminutive return specialist Marcus Sherels to miss the bulk of training camp and put his job in jeopardy after signing a one-year contract with the Saints in free agency? He barely broke a sweat in practice and did not play in any preseason games, enabling Harris to strut his stuff.

And finally, let’s all pray for those who will find themselves in harm’s way from Hurricane Dorian over the coming days.

Stay safe!

Brian Allee-Walsh, a longtime Saints reporter based in New Orleans, can be reached at sports@sunherald.com.
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