Aug 16, 2007

Saints vs. Bengals

The New Orleans Saints will take on the Cinicinnati Bengals on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. This will be the Saints 3rd preseason game and will give fans a look mostly at first and second-teamers. Coach Payton said that the starters will play through the first half, with QB Drew Brees playing about a quarter. Backup QB Jamie Martin will see his most extensive playing time of the preseason and will lead the team into the 3rd quarter. Newly acquired QB Matt Baker will play with the 2nd and 3rd teamers and finish the game.

Baker is competing with Tyler Palko, who had a pretty good outing last week, and Jason Fife, who led the Saints to their only TD drive in the Hall of Fame Game. I think it's Palko's job to lose, and Baker is a good candidate for the practice squad. It will be interesting to see how much of Payton's offense he has picked up in the less than 2 weeks that he's been in camp. Baker got a try out with the Saints after Payton received phone call recommendations from Drew Bledsoe and Tony Romo. But I just can't see him beating out a guy who's been in the system for months like Palko or more than a year like Fife.

A couple of other things to watch for on Saturday:

-The only real camp battle for a starting job is between punters Steve Weatherford and Chris Hanson. I think Weatherford will keep his spot, but Hanson has punted well in his limited opportunities.

-The backup running backs have been playing well, and it will be interesting to see who gets cut from the talented group. Antonio Pittman is a lock to make the team, since the Saints traded up in the 4th round to get him. Aaron Stecker is solid and adds veteran leadership to a young special teams unit. Rookie Pierre Thomas has shown his talent both as a runner and a return man, but his likely spot will be practice squad. Lastly, Jamaal Branch showed last year what he's capable of, but so far he hasn't had much of a chance to run this preseason.

-Injured players...a few of the "cyclist team" from training camp are finally getting over their injuries. Guys like WR Jamal Jones, WR David Patten and LB Scott Fujita may play this weekend. Also, with LT Jammal Brown's injuried knee, more playing time will be given to backups Zach Scrief and Jermon Bushrod.

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