New Orleans Saints: 3 Things to Watch in the Hall of Fame Game vs. Arizona
Game day is finally upon us, Who Dat Nation.
This is the day you have waited for since the crushing defeat to the San Franciso 49ers in the Divisional Round of the playoffs.
This also is the day you have been waiting for since Roger Goodell and the league came down hard with their bounty sanctions.
But when that ball is kicked off, every New Orleans Saints fan will have one thought on their mind: Who Dat!
With that being said, it's still a preseason game, so let's not tire out so soon. We have a whole year's worth of Goodell-hating to spout off, and then some at the Super Bowl.
Let's take a look at a few things before the ball kicks off on New Orleans' season.
With Patrick Robinson and Jabari Greer both out with injuries, this game will test out one of the weakest positions on the team. Behind those starters are second-year pro Johnny Patrick, free-agent additions Elbert Mack and Marquis Johnson, and fifth-round rookie Corey White.
There are a lot of question marks in that group, but a few of those players have been impressing through the first week of training camp.
Patrick, the second-year man out of Louisville, has been the most impressive. Coming off a slow start to his career with his injuries last year, Patrick ironically has been making the most out of his opportunities while the starters have missed with their own injuries. He is a playmaker who could be lethal as a nickel corner in Steve Spagnuolo's defensive scheme. and that has shown throughout camp.
Johnson has been running with Patrick in Robinson and Greer's absence. He has been having a solid camp so far and could use the live-action as much as anyone, including Mack.
Mack has had more misses than hits in camp. His inconsistency could cost him a spot if the youngster, White, can pick up the system rather quickly.
Which Wide Receiver Will Break from the Pack?
With Robert Meachem's departure and Devery Henderson's inconsistency, the spot opposite Marques Colston and Lance Moore is there for the taking.
The names Joe Morgan, Nick Toon and, lately, Adrian Arrington have been popping up with big days in camp so far.
Toon will be out 6-10 days with an injured foot, so the other receivers have a chance to pick up the slack and take the pole position for a starting spot.
Morgan has the deep speed, but has been up and down during camp between spectacular catches and bonehead plays. His speed will give him a longer leash.
Arrington, on the other hand, has no leash this preseason, and that's probably why his performance has been so good so far in camp. This is a make-or-break camp for "AA," and a big game Sunday night will help push him toward a spot on the active roster.
One player who might not make the active roster but has a great chance at being the "sequel" to Michael Lewis' tenure in New Orleans is Marques Clark, an undrafted high school coach from San Diego.
His story is a great one; Clark is 28 years old and last played organized football for Henderson State in 2006.
Clark ran routes for Brees during the lockout last year, and Brees said Clark has "so much natural ability and feel" in his routes and catching (via the LA Times). Those two have worked out two years in a row now, with this year coming during Brees' holdout.
That rapport could give Clark a leg up. It's a long shot, but this team is lined with great stories of underdogs.
Where Will Martez Wilson Be?
This is going to be the most interesting thing I am going to be looking forward to watching, not just in this game but also in the entire preseason.
Spagnuolo has been quoted as saying Wilson will be used along the defensive line this season, not just at defensive end but also in a couple of passing situations. During camp he has lined up at defensive tackle alongside Cameron Jordan in the middle, with Junior Galette and Will Smith on the outside.
It might not matter wear Wilson lines up, but where he ends up. And that could be in the stats sheet—big time.
I have Wilson pegged to lead the team in sacks this season, and Spagnuolo's defense could be the best thing that happened to him (as well as a lot of others) this year.