There were three specific players who "stood out" in the New Orleans Saints first pre-season contest against the Cinncinatti Bengals last Friday night... but for the wrong reasons. They will probably be on the hot seat looking for a chance to change a few minds in the next game against Houston, and if they don't show any improvement their chances of making this team will be very slim with the roster cuts that will be coming soon.
It shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that Jason David could be one of them; he's had a few rough games last year that has caused some serious heartburn for Saints fans. Although he is a very tough competitor and normally a good tackler against the run, the all too familiar scene of our weekly opponent's wide receiver holding up the football as he crosses the goal line, with David running helplessly a step behind, has once again, solicited doubt about his ability to match up and protect against the taller, elite wide receivers of the NFL.
Last year, it painted a target on his back as a team weakness ...and in this league that can spell disaster for a DB, because all NFL opposing coaches love to exploit weaknesses and physical mis-matches. After Friday night's game it looked like a repeat performance from last year. He will be sorely tested again this year by the likes of Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, and Calvin Johnson, if he makes the team. He carries a significant salary, as well, and with a number one draft pick on the bench...let's just say, he needs to really show something next week, if it's not too late already.
Although, New Orleans is not stacked at the running back position, Lynell Hamilton is not a shoe-in to make this team, despite his good practices and obvious potential. In the Saints win over the Bengals, he had two fumbles, one in particuliar, at a very inopportune time. Any fumbles will hurt a team, but in the red zone it is a serious momentum crusher, even in a pre-season game. Hamilton can either positively or negatively change the way the coaches are looking at him by his very next performance and he should get that chance against a young, strong Houston defense that features a very familiar name, Mario Williams.
Garrett Hartley successfully hit on all of his field goal attempts last year, as well as extra points for New Orleans, but Friday night against the Bengals, his failure to make a 20 yarder (following a crucial turnover which put New Orleans in great field position) suggests that he is not infallible, and therefore, also not automatic to make the team. Later on in the game, his connecting on a 54 yarder (with room to spare) should earn him the right to comeback and compete in the Houston game for his old starting job. However, the battle of kickers last year, caused some concerns for Coach Payton (and some very tough close losses) so, he doesn't want to make any rash decisions that he may be sorry about later...hence, a return of John Carney. Will this move impact the kicking game positively? Only time will tell ... GO SAINTS!