With a mostly healthy roster, Saints leave the preseason winners
NEW ORLEANS — I tried to convince my editors that it was too risky to have me write about the Saints preseason finale against the Ravens.
I didn’t want to risk developing carpal tunnel syndrome with the start of the regular season looming in 11 days. Besides, it was a perfect opportunity, I further rationalized, to take a closer look at younger writers to see what they have to offer in the regular season.
Apparently, editors approach coverage of these preseason games differently than NFL coaches approach playing them.
So here I am.
When all was said and done the Ravens (4-0) had defeated the Saints (2-2) 14-13 in front of a tiny crowd in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
That’s enough of that.
Drew Brees didn’t play and neither did Mark Ingram II, Adrian Peterson, Michael Thomas, Cam Jordan, A.J. Klein and a host of other players with whom this team’s fortunes rest primarily.
The vast majority of players who competed Thursday night either will no longer be with the Saints when they play for real at Minnesota on Sept. 11 or they will be filling much lesser roles than they had against Baltimore.
So let’s forget about this game and look at the preseason as a whole and glance ahead to the Vikings.
Preseason records mean virtually nothing, but success and failure can have a bearing on individuals’ and teams’ confidence. Maybe it’s a coincidence that New Orleans’ 10-game preseason losing streak that ended two weeks ago took place during preseasons that preceded 1-3, 0-3 and 0-3 regular-season starts that all led to 7-9 finishes.
And maybe not.
Regardless, if you’re hoping for a record better than 7-9 this season, the preseason performance is certainly more encouraging than a continuation of the losing streak would have been.
But by far the most important gauge of any preseason is how healthy a team is at the end of it compared to how it was when training camp began.
In that regard this preseason was a success.
Yes, starting cornerback Delvin Breaux will miss six weeks or so because of a leg injury that required surgery, but no other key player has any significant ailment entering the regular season. At least pending any revelations that might occur between now and the 11th.
So confidence-wise and health-wise I’m calling this training camp and preseason a winner.
Of course, nothing counts, or matters really, until the game in Minnesota. We’ll hear about the cuts and the finalizing of the season-opening roster over the next 48 hours and throughout Labor Day weekend.
Then it’ll be a week of talking about Adrian Peterson’s return to Minnesota for the opener. That’ll be fun to watch, especially since his six carries last week against Houston were all we saw in the preseason and weren’t much of a gauge of how much the 32-year-old future Hall of Famer has left.
But that’s not what matters most entering the opener.
It has been five weeks since the Saints started training camp and the fundamental issue is the same now as it was then.
New Orleans looks like it’ll be better on defense and it had better be better if its won-lost record is going to be better.
- < PREV Baby Cakes edge Dodgers in season road finale
- NEXT > Nicholls hits 32-yard FG as time expires to beat McNeese, 37-35
CCS/106.1 FM/Daily Iberian
Les East is a nationally renowned freelance journalist. The New Orleans area native’s blog on SportsNOLA.com was named “Best Sports Blog” in 2016 by the Press Club of New Orleans. For 2013 he was named top sports columnist in the United States by the Society of Professional Journalists. He has since become a valued contributor for CCS. The Jesuit High…