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New Orleans Saints vs. Los Angeles Chargers preseason: Five players to watch

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What can we expect from the Saints starters in their first significant game action together?

New Orleans Saints v San Diego Chargers Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

The New Orleans Saints take on the San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers on Saturday in the third preseason game for both teams. Before that, the teams will have joint practices against one another today and tomorrow. Traditionally, the third preseason is typically used as a "dress rehearsal" by teams in preparation for the opening week of the regular season. While some of the starters may play into the 3rd quarter, they will also have an opportunity to match up against the Los Angeles starters during their joint practice sessions. This will be the first chance that we see some of the Saints top players on the field for extensive snaps this preseason. While some fierce battles continue to fill out the spots through the middle and back end of the Saints roster, let's have a look at a few of the top New Orleans players to watch as they get their first significant action in 2018.

Drew Brees

Divisional Round - New Orleans Saints v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Brees has sat out both preseason games, not at all unusual for a franchise quarterback, particularly at 39 years old. He has looked as sharp as ever in practice, and is on the verge of adding several more league records to his resume'. Tom Savage and Taysom Hill have both put together some decent drives with some of the Saints starting offensive unit, but this team will obviously go as far as number 9 takes them. This will be Brees' first game action with new weapons such as promising rookie receiver Tre'quan Smith, running backs Jonathan Williams and Boston Scott, as well as the next player on today's watch list.

Cameron Meredith

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at New Orleans Saints Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

It had to be a relief to fans to finally see Meredith get on the field last week against Arizona. The 25-yr. old free agent acquisition had been limited throughout training camp while recovering from a knee injury that forced him to miss all of last season with the Chicago Bears. Meredith was a bit rusty, not recording a reception in the 22 snaps he played, and had a pass deflect off his hands that led to a Cardinals interception. The 6'3 fourth year pro should add another productive weapon on a receiving corps that struggled to be consistent outside of Michael Thomas a year ago. A big and physical target who excels in the middle of the field and near the end zone, he will look to build the timing with his Hall of Fame quarterback quickly.

Andrus Peat

New Orleans Saints v Miami Dolphins Photo by Henry Browne/Getty Images

Peat is returning from injury as well, suffering a broken leg in the team's first round playoff win over Carolina. He returned to the lineup last week against Arizona, playing 13 offensive snaps. New Orleans has one of the best starting offensive lines in the league, but the backups have been a bit inconsistent over the first two preseason games. Most will be watching the matchup between Saints tackles Terron Armstead and Ryan Ramczyk versus Chargers ends Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa, who may not play due to injury. Peat's return to form will be key however, and his lateral quickness could be tested against a Charger defensive line that is one of the better ones in the A.F.C.

Marcus Davenport

NFL: NFL Draft Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

This will be the first time that Saints fans will get to see the 14th overall pick in the draft on the field in game action. Davenport, who the Saints surrendered next year's 1st round pick to move from number 27 to 14 to draft, has missed the bulk of camp and both exhibition games because of injury. The major knock on him coming into the draft was the fact that he had not played against top caliber competition in college while playing at the University of Texas at San Antonio. The traits that caused many to have him rated as the second best edge rusher in the draft, a rare combination of speed, strength, and pass rush ability, is what fans are hoping to see on display. New Orleans coach Sean Payton had identified another pressure player on defense as a top offseason need, and was aggressive in going to get him. The team won't necessarily need to rely on him initially to be an every down force, not with the return of Alex Okafor from injury and the greatly improved play of Trey Hendrickson, but at some point Davenport must show that the Saints investment in him to be a piece of a championship puzzle was a wise move.

Vonn Bell

Arizona Cardinals v New Orleans Saints Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Unlike the other players on our watch list today, Bell has gotten quite a bit of playing time this preseason, playing 40 defensive snaps in the first two games. The most experienced member of the Saints returning secondary members with 24 career starts, Bell has struggled at times this preseason in both run defense and pass coverage. While fellow safety Marcus Williams has had an outstanding camp and looks like a potential star, Bell is trying to hold off veteran free agent Kurt Coleman for the other top spot on the back end of a young and talented secondary. He will face a stiff test against a Chargers offense that likes to air it out with Phillip Rivers, and one of the AFC's better running back/wideout combinations of Melvin Gordon and Keenan Allen. Bell, like the entire Saints team, are facing high expectations for the 2018 season. While this dress rehearsal of sorts will not be fully indicative of how the year may go, these joint practices and preseason contest will give us a taste of what the 2018 New Orleans Saints may look like as they chase another Super Bowl title.

Poll

Which player are you most looking forward to watching against the Chargers?

This poll is closed

  • 14%
    Drew Brees
    (104 votes)
  • 13%
    Cameron Meredith
    (98 votes)
  • 1%
    Andrus Peat
    (9 votes)
  • 67%
    Marcus Davenport
    (477 votes)
  • 2%
    Vonn Bell
    (19 votes)
707 votes total Vote Now