Aug 15, 2008

Preseason Game 2: Saints vs. Texans

After an exciting week of camp which saw the Saints wrap-up their training in Mississippi, the team will play their second preseason game Saturday night against the Houston Texans. The two teams have scrimmaged against one another the past couple of days, so by Saturday, they should be very familiar with each's personnel.

The Saints saw their first major injury of the offseason this week when DT Hollis Thomas tore his triceps. He had surgery and will be out for at least two months. The Saints will have to make a decision on whether or not to place him on the IR with this injury. If they don't put him on IR, he will count against the roster until he comes back. Its always bad news to sustain an injury, but DT is a position of depth right now, so the team should be able to overcome the loss of Thomas.

For the second year in a row Kenny Chesney practiced with the Saints. He ran routes and fielded punts, even earning the team a day off for successfully catching a punt (but it took him three tries to do so). The Saints players seem to enjoy have Kenny out there and anything that adds some fun at the end of training camp should be good for the team.

With the second preseason game coming up, here are some things to look for:

1. Will the Deuce be loose?
Deuce McAllister is set for his first game action since injuring his knee last season. Reggie Bush will sit out the game to rest his knee, so this leaves more playing time for McAllister, Pierre Thomas and Aaron Stecker. It will be fun to see #26 on the field again.

2. How will the Saints offensive line do against the talented Texans defensive line?
The Saints offensive line has its work cut out this week. The line blocked well in the passing game against the Cardinals, but run blocking left something to be desired. If they can run block better agains Mario Williams and company, then they'll have really accomplished something.

3. How will the returning players look?
A few Saints will make their preseason debut on Saturday: Mike McKenzie, Jonathan Vilma, Josh Bullocks, Marques Colston, Devery Henderson and Tracy Porter. Fans will want to keep an eye on Vilma and rookie Porter especially to see if the defense is improved with them on the field.

4. Is there any separation at kicker?
From everything I've read and seen, Martin Gramatica is doing a better job kicking than rookie Taylor Mehlhaff. Mehlhaff did make a FG last week, but his kickoffs weren't good. Gramatica has been solid on kickoffs and FGs in practice. Was the rookie just nervous? We'll see how he looks in front of the rabid hometown fans this weekend.

5. Will someone earn a roster spot as a kick returner?
Pierre Thomas has pretty much locked up the main kick returner job, and Reggie Bush will see his fair share of duty returning punts. But Lance Moore and Skyler Green still have a shot to show what they can do on special teams. With a few outstanding returns, they could assure themselves of a roster spot. Since they are both competing at the crowded wide receiver position, they need to really stand out on special teams. Rookie Tracy Porter will also get a look returning kicks and punts.

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