The New Orleans Saints are gearing up for their second preseason game of 2018 when they play host to the Arizona Cardinals on Friday. Both clubs are coming off victories from their first week, and while exhibition wins and losses don’t necessarily mean much in the grand scheme of things, there’s plenty of reason to dial in. Here’s a few players to watch throughout the course of the game.
Anyone that wanted to crown Taysom Hill as the definitive and primary backup to Drew Brees might want to pump the brakes. On the stat sheet against the Jaguars, Hill finished 8-of-9 for 72 yards and picked up 52 yards on the ground on 7 attempts. Tom Savage, who played all but one snap in the first half, went 10-of-14 for 70 yards.
Hill took sacks on the night, and over a third of his yardage came at the hands of a Tre’Quan Smith connection of 25 yards. We know Hill can scramble, but we want to see him do more than just check downs if we are to Believe he’s ready to take the giant leap. Undoubtedly, we should see plenty of Hill this week.
Kirkwood has a very unique opportunity to put it all together on Friday with Cameron Meredith dealing with an undisclosed injury. Is Kirkwood anywhere near the conversation for the final 53-man roster? Maybe not at this point, but a good showing should help him out in the long run. Kirkwood caught two balls for 17 yards on two targets in his first preseason action, with one each from Savage and Hill. He had one penalty (illegal block in the back) in the fourth quarter in his 33 logged snaps (fourth-highest on offense).
If there’s one person who entered the spotlight on the defense, then it would be Jayrone Elliott (honorable mention to Devaroe Lawrence). Elliott appeared in just 16 snaps for the Saints, but tallied 2.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, and had 4 combined tackles. While the argument could be made regarding the talent he faced, Elliott still shined and was a big reason the Saints were able to make a comeback. Whether or not Elliott delivers an encore remains to be seen, but another strong outing can help him enter more of the final roster conversation. He’s absolutely pushing someone like Hau’oli Kikaha closer to the roster bubble.
Aside the Taysom Hill scrambles, Jonathan Williams was the most productive rusher for the Saints in preseason Week 1. Veterans Shane Vereen and Terrance West did little to nothing running the ball to suggest they’d be a prime benefactor of Mark Ingram’s four-game absence to start the season, and Trey Edmunds just had one carry for one yard. Perhaps what’s most impressive about Williams’ night is that he went from being a cold bench player to only having four snaps (plus three on special teams), making each and every single one of them count.
The Saints have a bit of a unique situation when it comes to the secondary. While almost every fan was excited to see De’Vante Harris go after a rough night, both second-year players Arthur Maulet and Justin Hardee looked pretty good. Maulet and Hardee have been used primarily as special teams gunners, but have a great opportunity to do more for the Saints defense as backups. Maulet has had a pretty good camp, and received some praise from secondary coach Aaron Glenn. Both Maulet and Hardee, along with Natrell Jamerson are sending P.J. Williams closer to the roster bubble.
Who are some players you are watching when the Saints take on the Cardinals?