The. New Orleans Saints completed their week two auditions of the 2014 season with a preseason contest versus the Tennessee Titans. The game, much like some of its participants, was an up and down contest with high and lows in every phase. While the offense produced yardage and points, the defense bent and often broke under pressure from an inferior Titans offense. The multiple moving parts who combined to produce these efforts were repeatedly penalized, derailing the train that would have surely rampaged the Titans. In spite of the multiple penalties and miscues of the team, a handful of players produced positive results and others buried themselves deeper on the depth chart. With the first major cutdown approaching, let's take a look at some notable players and position groups.
On The Rise:
WR, Nick Toon - In week one of the preseason, Toon had a very mixed performance with good and bad plays. Against the Titans, Toon appeared to eliminate the mistakes and made a good catch. His stock value is increased based on his reduction in negative plays. In all honesty, Toon is not expected to became the greatest Saints receiver ever, so consistency and limited mental errors will keep him on the roster. Similar to Devery Henderson, Toon just needs to make the most of his limited opportunities to keep his job.
WR, Joseph Morgan - Morgan has solid big play potential, but that's no secret. What is unknown is how serious he is about remaining a Saint. Against the Rams in week one, Morgan seemed to be in a daze, giving half-hearted effort. Then in week two versus Tennessee, Captain Morgan flashed that big play ability with two long receptions. While it was a flash in the pan, it was enough of a reminder that not only can Morgan get behind a defense, he can also reel in the tough catches.
S, Vinnie Sunseri - The Saints have an embarrassment of wealth at safety at this point. In the real world, the Saints have 6 safeties who could start on half of the teams in the NFL. Sunseri bolstered this claim with another strong performance that included a late interception and decent return after the pick. The rookie is making his case to at least earn a spot as a special teams player.
K, Derek Dimke - While the statistics don't show anything spectacular from Dimke, the general consensus is that he is kicking his way into a job in New Orleans. The second year man was perfect on extra points Friday against the Titans. Shayne Graham needs to stay prepared for a fight for the kicking job in 2014.
TE, Josh Hill - Let's be clear, Josh Hill is not in a battle to win the starting job as the Saints TE this season, but he is trying to keep a roster spot. Hill didn't do anything to move himself up the depth chart, but he did maintain a reasonable status quo this week. He caught passes targeted at him and didn't make any glaring mistakes. As he learns more of the Saints offense, his opportunities will grow.
LB, Kasim Edebali - During the preseason living to fight another day is all it takes to avoid being cut. On Friday, Edebali afforded himself just such an opportunity with nice sack and an active night. Going forward, he will need to produce more than one tackle/sack in the next game to avoid being cut in the next round.
CB, Stanley Jean-Baptiste - SJB can be very frustrating to watch on game day. As the game plays out, it is consistently clear that he is athletic and instinctive enough to get into position to make plays. Then as the ball arrives, he doesn't read the receiver or bother to whip his head around to make a play. A perfect example of his frustrating play is his INT versus the Titans! He has near blanket coverage and concentration to corral the tipped ball - then he nearly loses possession trying to toss the ball to a teammate. While the idea was good, it just wasn't the right thing to do right then.
On The Decline:
The Offensive Line - After having great success running the ball against the Rams strong defensive line, most expected similar results versus the Titans. Unfortunately, sloppy play and lack of energy produced meager rushing stats for every back that touched the ball. Keep in mind that we didn't see the best the Saints had to offer with at least 2 offensive starters missing from the line. You can couple that with backups starting at QB, WR, and FB and see why the run game was bad in this one.
Cornerback Depth - Where do we start? First we haven't seen our future Hall of Famer in live action, our front runner the #2 CB job sat out Friday, and our best CB left with a gimpy leg. I won't project Keenan Lewis' lower leg injury to be significant, but after him and Patrick Robinson, the CB talent on the roster gets really thin. If the team is forced to depend on Corey White, SJB, Trevin Wade, and Rod Sweeting, we could be in for a long season.
Sean Payton's Patience - This preseason seems hell bent on killing Coach Payton! From the dumb reporter questions, multiple injuries, and high penalty totals to the ice bucket challenges, there is plenty for him to get pissed about. SP is notorious for running a tight ship and when it seems that he is losing that edge, he generally takes extreme measures to rally his troops. Expect to hear of some off the wall event at camp to get his team's attention - vets on the bubble beware! Also, Jimmy Graham might find himself used as some sort of example for his antics on Friday.
That's the stock report for this week! Agree, disagree, or don't care, leave a comment below. See y'all next week!