Teddy Bridgewater tops this list but Saints 5th round pick Saquan Hampton, and Dewayne Washington will be an interesting watch.
Preseason has to be the NFL’s biggest mirage with regards to regular season outcomes, but there’s still legit information to be gathered, especially on individual players and trouble areas.
For instance, in 2013 the Saints inability to stop runs to the edge showed up in preseason Week 1 and persisted all season. Actually, it persisted until the signing of Demario Davis, but that’s neither here nor there.
Heck, in 2016 and 2017 respectively, Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara both solidified themselves as offensive weapons within the first two preseason games, and would eventually go on to make household names like Brandin Cooks and Adrian Peterson expendable because of immense talents put on display during preseason.
With that being said, let’s take a look at a few players I’ll have my eye on while at the game on Friday Night.
Teddy Bridgewater - Quarterback
Sean Payton hasn’t said it directly, but this entire preseason will be important for their overall assessment of what Teddy Bridgewater could potentially offer as a successor to Drew Brees. Coming in so late into the process last year didn’t afford Bridgewater the prospect of grasping the Saints complicated system.
“I was listening to the play calls on the sideline and I didn’t know what was going on,” Bridgewater said of that preseason finale last year.
“Now, having a year under my belt, I can say the comfort level has grown with the system. I understand what we’re trying to accomplish when we’re calling certain plays. I’m excited about that.”
Translation: Last year’s Week 17 stat line of 118 passing yards, a 73.7 passer rating, and 14 points wasn’t the best indicator of what he can do in this system. More time on task with the offense and the “grudge match” storyline against his old team the Vikings has me expecting to witness some Orlando magic from No. 5 tonight.
Saquan Hampton - Safety
Unlike his late round predecessors from the 2018 draft Kamrin Moore and Natrell Jamerson, Saquan Hampton has gotten himself noticed early in camp and appears to have a real shot at making the 53. “He is one of those players the ball finds,” said Saints coach Sean Payton. While fellow rookie Emmanuel Butler got the yearly camp beast label early on, it’s been Hampton’s ability to stay healthy and capitalize on his opportunities that have earned him a spot on this list.
After intercepting Drew Brees and Teddy Bridgewater on consecutive days of camp in place of then injured Marcus Williams, it was The Athletic’s Larry Holder who made the comment that despite flashes from Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, it’s been Hampton that has stood out the most. I’m a big proponent of stacking days, followed by weeks, followed by “can he do it in a game” and that’s the next step for the Rutgers alumnus as he looks to supplant the other returning safeties and etch himself a spot on a potential Super Bowl roster.
Dwayne Washington - Running back
Running back depth has been one of my biggest sticking points this year, and the first couple of weeks of training camp have done nothing to clarify things, but one name that came up during the week was Dwayne Washington. Last year in Week 17 against Carolina, he finished that game on high note with 11 carries for 108 yards and 9.8 YPC with a nice 28-yard scamper that showed speed, burst through the hole, and balance.
There are ramblings that the Saints could look to return to a three-headed backfield, but you need a third head to do that, and guys like Daniel Lasco and Mike Gillislee have flamed out in recent years. Insert Washington, who is quietly being looked at as a lock with fellow runner Devine Ozigbo currently slotted for the practice squad. With Kamara likely not playing and Latavius Murray having a small workload, Washington should get the bulk of the carries tonight.
Random Thought - I was hoping the Browns would have held on to Duke Johnson Jr. until later in the season in the event the Saints needed to make a move for a RB. Guess not!
Random Thought II - Bridgewater and Taysom Hill will likely play a half each in what is a competition that hasn’t been talked about enough. So, who you got in the poll below?
After the game, make sure you stop by Canal Street Chronicles for what should be a surplus of great articles and content, and if you are up late join myself and Deuce Windham on Who Dat Confessional after the game for our 1st recap episode of the year. Who Dat!!!