The Saints took care of business in their second home preseason game taking out the Chargers 36-21. The Chargers rallied late down 8 to get into Saints’ territory with under a minute left, but Leigh Torrence intercepted Billy Volek and returned it 87 yards for a touchdown to seal the deal. See my bullets below:
— On the injury front, there were three items of concern. Defensive necessity Jonathan Vilma left the game with an injured groin. Reserve tackle Zach Strief seemed to hurt his knee, though he was able to walk off the field. Jeremy Shockey took a vicious hit after his only catch and did not return. I’m cautiously optimistic with all three players that they’ll be fine for the Vikings game, but those are three names I really don’t care to see us missing for any length of time, especially Vilma. I heard Prioleau got hurt too but I must have missed it.
— Chris Ivory, what more can you say about the guy? It’s official: he’ll be on the Saints’ 53 man roster come Sept 9th barring injury, and he’s locked in as the #3 tailback. His 76 yard touchdown reception from Patrick Ramsey was a thing of beauty. He reminded me of a young Deuce McAllister in his prime on that play, showing a little bit of everything. Speed, soft hands, agility, strength, and the patented vintage Deuce stiff arm. He got tough yards and he was explosive. I get the feeling this is only the beginning for Chris Ivory in a Saints uniform. Don’t be surprised to see this kid with the football more times this year in games that count.
— Reggie Bush put on a show in the first half. I’m starting to think maybe he will see more reps than seasons past this year.
— Brees looked very good even by his standards. He went 18-27, but I can recall at least 5 bad drops during the course of the game. Reggie Bush, Devery Henderson and Marques Colston all let easy grabs hit the turf. A couple of those drops came on third down plays which can’t happen.
— Special teams units were much much better. Frankly, they couldn’t get any worse. But it was nice to at least see them do a good job of flying to the ball. Special ups to Chip Vaughn and Montez Billings especially who made impressive plays. Of course the Saints couldn’t help themselves, they had to let a kickoff return go for 47 yards towards the end of the game. They couldn’t just end things on a perfect note.
— Garrett Hartley is solid as a rock. By the way, he had the touchdown saving tackle on that 47 yard return. I’m pretty sure he now has two tackles this preseason. Hopefully he won’t have that many in 16 games this regular season. His field goals, though, were right down the middle each time. I just have a lot of confidence in him right now anytime he steps onto the field.
— Usama Young and Leigh Torrence helped their stock with a pick each. Torrence alternated good and bad in coverage, but those guys are fighting for their roster spots and they at least made plays to help their chances.
— Patrick Robinson looked excellent at cornerback I thought. That was a significant improvement from the first two games.
— Malcolm Jenkins looks more comfortable at free safety.
— Adrian Arrington saw a lot of time at punt returner. Patrick Robinson saw a lot of time at kickoff returner. Both experiments were awful. I hope neither ever sees the field again in that capacity.
— Courtney Roby deserves to get more opportunities on offense. The guy is a solid player.
— Forgetting the drops for a moment, there were a number of circus catches. Montez Billings had an unreal one handed grab that was just ridiculous. Devery Henderson’s touchdown catch was great concentration and boxing out on a batted ball. Colston had several fantastic grabs in tight coverage. Shockey also made a great catch before getting blown up over the middle. Give him credit for hanging on to the ball.
— I’m not really sure where Al Woods stands at this point? He’s been pretty quiet. I wonder if the Saints are definitely keeping him. I’d hate to see him go but he’s just not in the mix right now.
— The backup tight ends Tyler Lorenzen and Tory Humphrey both looked excellent. With Jimmy Graham looking more likely to spend 2010 on the IR by the day, you figure at least one of those two is a lock to make the roster. They both looked impressive, making plays in the passing game and blocking extremely well.
— Heath Evans sat out this game, and I found it interesting that Jason McKie was getting snaps at fullback with the first unit. Maybe he’s got a chance to stick after all?
— Hard to say who I like better as the number two right now, but Patrick Ramsey looked very sharp once again. His interception was atrocious, and it let the Chargers back in the game, but his throws were fairly accurate and they had velocity on them. He had good control of the offense and they moved the ball well with him in there. I think Ramsey, just because of his experience, is probably a cut above Chase Daniel in Sean Payton’s mind right now. It’s a tight race though and it’ll probably come down to the last preseason game.
That’s all I got for tonight. I hope you enjoyed the game and have a good night. Let’s hope that Vilma, Shockey, Strief and Prioleau are all fine. I’m worried about those guys, Vilma especially.