Pats beat Saints 7-6 as preseason continues

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It’s important during preseason to not get to excited after a win, and not to get to worried after a loss especially when a team plays two games in five days. The New England Patriots 7-6 win over the Saints wasn’t the most exciting of games to watch that is for sure, but as in the win against the Cardinals you try and take a few things from the game and move on.

The Saints by all accounts enjoyed a very solid week of work in Foxboro. Tuesday’s full padded practice was a bit of an indication of what we saw on Thursday night. The top two offenses in the league and pin up quarterbacks Drew Brees and Tom Brady got the attention heading into the workout, but it was the defenses that were making the noise. Brady and Brees were picked off a number of times in that practice and on Thursday night, both quarterbacks saw defenses hoping to start pulling some headlines themselves in the near future.

OFFENSE

Saints quarterback Drew Brees played two series, six plays in all. Brees was just 1 for 4 for 4 yards. Brees however was under pressure, got hit after a play, and missed on deep play with tight end Dave Thomas that was close to being a great completion.

Running back Pierre Thomas again keeps giving me reasons to think he can have a very good year. Only rushed the ball twice Thursday, but picked up 18 yards, one being a 13 yard scamper that showed speed, strength, and balance. Yup I like me some Pierre Thomas.

Receiver Courtney Roby had a second straight solid game. Roby caught five balls for 85 yards. At the start of camp it appeared that Roby may have to battle for his roster spot, but against the Cardinals and Pats Roby showed he can be depended on if needed as a receiver. Roby was a big contributor on special teams last season, and under the Sean Patyon era players that can play multiple positions will always be favored.

DEFENSE

Okay remember what I wrote at the beginning about not getting too excited about preseason games? Yea well I’m not going to listen to my own advice for a quick second. The defensive line is showing signs that the Saints may ACTUALLY, FINALLY have a pass rush! The cover photo in the Sports section of the Boston Herald Friday morning has Saints defensive end Cam Jordan crushing Patriots QB Tom Brady into the turf.

The Saints defense made a big play in the Patriots first drive of the game. On the 13th play of a drive that was continued thanks to a offsides call on a Patriots punt defensive end Junior Galette pressured Brady and got him to scramble from the pocket. Defensive end Will Smith then chased him down from the backside hitting Brady causing him to fumble the ball. Linebacker Curtis Lofton then quickly recovered the ball for the Saints. That play alone is a reason to be excited. Through a week of practices, and two games, the pressure the defense is getting on quarterbacks (their own or opposing ones), is coming from guys up front. Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s calling card.

Cornerback Marquis Johnson had an interception in the game. Again, pressure upfront and players taking advantage of opportunities to create turnovers. These are things we just didn’t see much of last season.

Jonathan Casillas had a nice game recording seven total tackles three of those solo. Casillas has been in a backup role after seeing action as a starter last year.

Saints 3rd round draft pick defensive tackle Akiem Hicks had a nice game picking up three tackles, one of those solo and a pass defense. Hicks had a late start to training camp as he recovered from a hand injury suffered back in mini camp.

NO-GO

A number of Saints players sat out of the game Thursday night against the Patriots. Tight end Jimmy Graham was held out after he landed on his back while going up for a ball back on Wednesday. It was a touchdown catch by the way in case you were wondering.

Running back Mark Ingram missed Tuesday’s full practice. He participated in the walkthrough Wednesday but didn’t play Thursday. Coach Joe Vitt at the start of training camp said the team would be careful with Ingram as he works his way back from his toe and knee injuries suffered last season.

Three receivers did not play. Devery Henderson dressed out but did not see action. Adrian Arrington and Nick Toon were out as Double-A is dealing with a meniscus issue with his knee, and Toon was set to be out 6-10 days from last Friday when he hurt his foot at practice.

Cornerbacks Jabari Greer, Patrick Robinson, and Elbert Mack also didn’t play. Greer is recovering from sports hernia surgery, Robinson healing from a bruised shoulder, and the team didn’t say why Mack didn’t play.

Linebacker David Hawthorne didn’t play thanks to a hip-flexor injury from Sunday. Guards Andrew Tiller and defensive tackle Tom Johnson also missed the game with unspecified injuries or reasons.

WHAT’S NEXT

The Saints return to the practice field on Monday in Metairie. They’ll play the Jacksonville Jaguars next Friday August 17 in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

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