As a tune-up for the regular season, the New Orleans Saints will host the Oakland Raiders in Week 2 of the preseason on Friday night at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
After suffering through a mediocre season in 2012 without head coach Sean Payton, the high-octane Saints are looking to rebound this year and make the playoffs.
Meanwhile, the Raiders are a long ways away from fielding a competitive team in general manager Reggie McKenzie's second season at the helm.
Given the lack of depth and talent on Oakland's side, combined with a new defense for the Saints under Rob Ryan, this game could easily turn into a sloppy affair.
Here's a look at everything you need to know about this upcoming contest.
Where: Mercedez-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, LA
When: 8 p.m. ET
Watch: No national coverage; check local listings.
Live Stream: Preseason Live
Listen: Online at NFL Audio Pass
Betting Line (via Covers)
Over/Under: 42; Spread: New Orleans (-6.5)
These two teams are both going to struggle on defense, and points could come in droves. That said, given the fact that Drew Brees isn't likely to play more than a series or two, it's just as likely that points could be hard to come by.
One thing seems like a safe bet, however: The Saints will crush the Raiders on Friday night.
Injury Report (via ESPN.com)
- Jared Veldheer (OT): Out (triceps)
- Jacoby Ford (WR): Questionable (knee)
- D.J. Hayden (CB): Probable (abdomen/hamstring)
- Jonathan Vilma (LB): Questionable (knee)
- Martez Wilson (LB): Probable (elbow)
Raiders Player to Watch: Alex Barron
As if this team didn't already have enough problems, starting left tackle Jared Veldheer looks likely to miss most of the season after suffering a triceps injury that will require three months of recovery, as Adam Schefter of ESPN noted:
However, Veldheer's recovery time may be shorter than first feared, with Schefter later reporting that the Raiders left tackle could be available for much of the season.
Raiders LT Jared Veldheer has only partially torn left triceps; doctors believe he will be available for much of season, per source.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 14, 2013
Depth at the offensive line positions was a big issue for Oakland before Veldheer—the team's best offensive lineman—went down. In his place will likely be veteran Alex Barron, as noted by Steve Corkran of the Contra Costa Times:
Barron, who was a first-round pick back in 2005, hasn't played a meaningful snap since he started one game for the Dallas Cowboys in 2010. Considered to be a bust, he's now the man who will be responsible for protecting Matt Flynn's blind side this season.
Note to self: Say a prayer for Matt Flynn.
There's always a chance Barron rises up to the challenge and performs like you'd expect a former first-round pick to perform, but given his recent history in the NFL, it's not likely.
Saints Player to Watch: Mark Ingram
Because of Drew Brees' prowess in the passing game, many fans forget that a critical aspect of the Saints' 2009 Super Bowl winning team was its potent rushing attack. Mike Bell, Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush led the league's No. 6-ranked ground game that season, which opened up things for Brees and his receivers over the top.
In last year's disappointing 7-9 campaign, the Saints featured one of the worst rushing attacks in the NFL. In order for this team to get back to its goal of contending for a championship, it's imperative that the offense rediscovers its ability to pound the ball on the ground.
Before the team's first preseason game against the Kansas City Chiefs,, Mike Triplett of the New Orleans Times Picayune raved about Ingram's form thus far in training camp and predicted the third-year player would "turn some heads."
But the running back only carried the ball three times in that contest for 12 yards—including a long run of six yards.
Look for the former Alabama star to get a few more looks this Friday night against the Raiders. He's likely going to be counted on to carry the load this season for the Saints, and Payton needs to know if he can trust him to do so.
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