Brian Allee-Walsh

Saints should keep Drew Brees out of harm’s way

FILE - In this Aug. 20, 2016, file photo, Houston Texans outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney (90) sacks New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) in the first half of an NFL preseason football game in Houston. In three preseason losses this summer, New Orleans hasn’t demonstrated that its offensive line can consistently protect 37-year-old star QB Drew Brees.
FILE - In this Aug. 20, 2016, file photo, Houston Texans outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney (90) sacks New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) in the first half of an NFL preseason football game in Houston. In three preseason losses this summer, New Orleans hasn’t demonstrated that its offensive line can consistently protect 37-year-old star QB Drew Brees. AP

Two players pique my interest as the winless New Orleans Saints put a wrap on their preseason schedule Thursday night against the undefeated Baltimore Ravens at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Quarterback Drew Brees and second-year offensive lineman Andrus Peat.

First Brees, who apparently will start and break a sweat against the Ravens in an attempt to jumpstart a sluggish No. 1 offensive unit in preparation for the regular season.

My question simply is this: Why?

Why risk injury to your 37-year-old franchise quarterback in a meaningless exercise against an opponent that likely will play mostly backups and other players farther down the depth chart? Bree hasn't played in a preseason finale since 2006, his first year with the Saints when he was coming back from off-season rotator cuff surgery.

Keep in mind that Game 4 of the preseason is pro football's version of the "Hunger Games,'' where desperate players are fighting to make any NFL roster.

That is not to minimize the value of any player who performs Thursday night but Brees plays the most important position on the team and counts approximately 20 percent against the team's salary cap.

The NFL is big business.

Let's say Brees leads the No. 1 offense to a touchdown or two, what does that prove? That they can score against second-, third- and fourth-stringers! On the flip side, let's say those same scrubs keep Brees & Company out of the end zone, now what does that do for one's confidence?

Is Saints coach Sean Payton feeling a sense of urgency as the preseason winds down? Is he pushing the panic button?

All I can say is heaven forbid if something happens to Brees.

Now, when it comes to Andrus Peat, two games come to mind: Find Waldo and Musical Chairs.

Apparently, Peat is going to start at left guard against the Ravens, which would mark his third different starting spot along the offensive line this preseason. He opened at left tackle against New England and right guard against Houston and Pittsburgh.

He also has played right tackle.

If Peat were not a No. 1 pick, I wonder if he would be on the proverbial bubble since he has yet to find a home. It's all about Location! Location! Location!

As it is, the 13th overall pick of the 2015 draft from Stanford appears to be a jack-of-all positions and master of none at this early stage of his NFL career.

Now, Peat should be playing Thursday night.

Brees should be in street clothes on the sideline, eating seeds, far out of harm's way.

Brian Allee-Walsh is a long-time Saints reporter based in New Orleans. He can be reached at sports@sunherald.com.

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