The Saints will play their 3rd preseason game today, the game that is often called the ‘dress rehearsal’ for the regular season. This will be our first opportunity to see a lot of the starters as well as our chance to see how the offense will look against one of the best defenses the league has to offer. Below are my 4 areas of focus that I will be watching the most closely during today’s game.
1: Offensive Line
The defensive front for the Texans might be the most talented in the NFL today, and the Saints offensive line is going to have their work cut out for them. I’m eager to see if Max Unger can get some snaps (literally) today to get some of the rust off and help get him ready for the regular season. But, the one matchup that really matters today is how rookie left tackle Ryan Ramczyk plays. He doesn’t have to look perfect, but the Texans front (even more than Chargers from last week) is going to be an excellent test for the young tackle. If he can hold his own it will be a great confidence builder, but if the Texans take him to school Sean Payton may have re-evaluate the plan for week 1 against the Vikings.
2: The Cornerbacks
The Saints corners have been up and down all offseason, and the Texans will provide a very strong test for them. Deandre Hopkins in particular is an unbelievable talent and one of the very best receivers in the league. He’ll be an excellent test for the secondary and I hope to see both PJ Williams and Marshon Lattimore to get some time against him. The Texans are deeper at the position than their offensive numbers of recent years might suggest, and this will be a good solid test for the Saints cornerbacks to prove they can hold their own…especially the young guys.
3: Peterson and Ingram
I’m interested to see how the Saints handle the Ingram and Peterson snaps in the first half, and more specifically how both players perform. The preseason isn’t the barometer for veterans, and it shouldn’t be, but I would prefer to get a glimpse of how this combo could perform this year as they have an opportunity to go up against a great front 7. Ingram could use a few snaps just to knock off some of the rust, but the biggest reason why I’m eager to see them both out there is to see not only whether Peterson has anything left in the tank, but whether he is comfortable splitting snaps with Mark.
4: Tommy Lee Lewis
Tommy Lee Lewis has been the camp darling this year, and the Texans is an opportunity for him to prove he can produce vs NFL level defenses. If Lewis can show the flashes he’s shown in the first two games against the Texans it will go a long way towards securing a roster spot for him and quieting some of the people who doubt his ability to perform outside of preseason (myself included).