Saints vs Vikings LiVe: The New Orleans Saints will host the Minnesota Vikings in the Superdome, the first of their four preseason contests. Wins and losses may be immaterial in terms of the games themselves, but not in terms of roster spots and position battles. There are some important things to be hashed out over the course of the next four weeks.
With that in mind, here are the five biggest things to watch for when the Saints take the field Friday night.The lone real competition for a starting spot at the outset of training camp was at center, where three players rotated in with the first team offense during practice. But rookie Erik McCoy appears well on his way toward clinching that top spot after dominating the first-team practice repetitions for the last week. He should start Friday, and it will be worth watching how well the Saints’ top rookie operates with the rest of the starters in his first NFL game action.
The Saints have not made any official announcement yet, but it should come as no surprise to see Teddy Bridgewater take the first snap of the preseason for New Orleans at quarterback. Drew Brees doesn’t usually play in the preseason opener, and there’s no reason for that trend not to continue. Considering there are only two other quarterbacks on the Saints roster, Bridgewater should play a hefty number of snaps against his old Vikings club.
For this one, think about Friday’s game with Week 1 of the regular season in mind: On that day, the Saints will definitely be without defensive tackle David Onyemata, who will be serving a one-game suspension, and will almost assuredly be without defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins, who tore his Achilles in the playoffs last season. New Orleans will have to rely on other players early, which makes defensive tackle a position to watch. Look out for newcomers Malcom Brown and Mario Edwards
Want to win some bets on some darkhorse candidates to make the Saints 53-man roster out of training camp? Then don’t go to the kitchen to refill the chips and guac when the special teams units are on the field. When filling out the bottom of their roster, the Saints place a premium on players who can help them in the kicking game. Plus, the most underrated camp battle so far might be at punt/kick returner between favorite Marcus Sherels and challengers Deonte Harris and Cyril Grayson.
Here is a fact: New Orleans has a deep roster and will be forced to make a lot of difficult decisions when cut down day arrives in less than a month. Will wide receiver Emmanuel Butler get to suit up after missing a week with an undisclosed injury to show his strong early performance in camp was no fluke? How well do running backs Devine Ozigbo and Dwayne Washington fare against live tackling? A lot of players are fighting for precious few spots, and that should be the most interesting part of the preseason.