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Saints vs. Packers: What To Watch

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To close out their preseason, the injury ravaged New Orleans Saints face the Green Bay Packers in Week 4. The preseason hasn't been kind to the Saints, its most recent victim being Keenan Lewis, who will be missing 4-6 weeks after a surgery that he underwent Tuesday. Here's what to watch for against the Packers.

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Week 3 had a high cost for the Saints, claiming their number one cornerback in Keenan Lewis.  Lewis, who was supposed to be starting opposite Brandon Browner, had been hampered by a hamstring injury all preseason, so it didn't come as a surprise that the organization was forced to act.  Coming up against the Packers, the Saints will now finish out their preseason without their number one corner, and they'll also try to figure out how they can hold up against the high powered passing attack of the Packers, should they play their starters for more than a series.

1.) Minimal starters for New Orleans

After this game, the Saints have to cut down to their 53 man roster, so the starters will likely get only one series in this game.  Keep an eye on those starters, as the Drew Brees offense has been strong this preseason, but keep a closer eye on the defense.  The starting unit has had flashes of brilliance, particularly in Week 2 against the Patriots, but has a long way to go.  The corner play has been subpar, and the safety play is difficult to judge due to the rotating nature of the Saints' defense in the preseason.

2.) Offensive line play

The offensive line has been adequate to this point, although less than impressive.  Brees hasn't been overwhelmed by pressure, but the interior rush has still been hard on him to this point.  Granted, the Saints are experimenting trying to see what works for their offensive front, and the 3-4 schemes that they've faced haven't been kind to them, but they still need to do a better job slowing down the pass rush up the middle (and this goes for all units).

3.) Saints' Corners vs. Aaron Rodgers

Unfortunately, Payton won't get much time to evaluate his corners against arguably the best quarterback in the league, but he can at least get some read as to what he's going to do for the upcoming game against the Cardinals.  The Saints are thin at corner, once thought one of their deeper positions going into camp, but they can, if nothing else, figure out who's going to be on the field opposite Browner.  Pay close attention to Delvin Breaux and former Jet Kyle Wilson, these two have been fairly impressive thus far.  With PJ Williams placed on IR due to "football reasons" most likely, also look for Stanley Jean Baptiste to, if not get a position on the field, make a run at one.

4.) Linebacker Play

This one is cited every week and will continue to be.  The position is so young that it's hard to get a read on how they're complementing each other.  Hau'oli Kikaha has come along well, constantly pushing towards where the ball is, Stephone Anthony showed more progression against the Texans last week, and this is his final chance to get some reps outside of an in game situation.  He's been better, but he still has work to do (as would be expected from a rookie signal caller).  Kikaha has been one of the most impressive players on the Saints' defense to this point, but look for Green Bay to exploit his aggressive play style with play actions and misdirection draws.

5.) Who plays, who doesn't

The Saints are being very cautious with their starters, and don't expect yesterday's news to change anything.  The injury to Lewis was unfortunate, but Payton has never been a transparent coach when it comes to injuries.  The Saints usually keep them mum, so don't expect to see players like Jairus Byrd or Kenny Vaccaro on the field today, while only getting fleeting glimpses of Brandin Cooks and Drew Brees.  It's been a long preseason, and the last thing that the Saints want to do is come out of Week 4 more strapped than they already are.

At the end of the day, it doesn't matter IF the Saints lose these games, it's WHO they lose.  Ultimately, all that fans can hope for is a good, safe game from both teams.