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Keys to success: More Tre’Quan Smith is one of few tweaks Saints are making to gain advantage over Falcons

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The Falcons will be getting a good look at all of the Saints new offensive additions plus more

Los Angeles Rams v New Orleans Saints Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Whatever it takes to get the upper hand, you do it!

Tre’Quan Smith, Cameron Meredith, Ted Ginn Jr., and Alvin Kamara will all be doing something slightly different than they’ve done up to this point in the season when they arrive in Atlanta to face the Falcons in Week 3.

For Smith, this appears to translate into an expanded role according to head coachSean Payton.

“We have to find ways to get him more touches. He is handling our installation. He knows what we are doing game plan wise, and I think he is ready to prove that.”

I get it.

This is a chance to see what the rookie can do in an important game where any wrinkle can result in an upper hand. He’s shown a lot in camp and during preseason, so now is as good a time as ever for him to swim or sink.

The question is, will he look more like Kenny Stills or Robert Meachem?

Meanwhile, following an injury to return specialist Tommylee Lewis that placed him on injured reserve, the Saints have inserted two new candidates into the now vacant punt return duties.

One of those candidates Sean Payton said, “I know I’m comfortable with Alvin (Kamara) back there” but the other he was a little more guarded about and used it as a chance to give the player a vote of confidence

“Ted Ginn is someone who’s done it and we just got to get that gas can in his locker and get him going. I think he’s someone who can give you some juice in that area.”

Notice the highlighted “subtle” differences in the certainty of the two individual players?

Over his career as a punt returner, Ginn has fielded 257 punts for 2,600 yards and 4 TDs. The drawback to some of that “juice” Payton alluded to is that he’s also had 16 fumbles in that time span. Two of them last year as a Saint that had Payton suggesting they “needed to find someone they can trust” before relieving him of those duties.

When Payton had his issues with Reggie Bush, he used Lance Moore for the fair catch scenarios. I’d imagine something similar with Kamara and Ginn on Sunday.

Finally, Cameron Meredith looks set to make his much anticipated regular season debut as a Saint after being inactive for the previous two games.

“He’s doing well. He’s healthy. And this will be a week we’ll look to see how he progresses and see if we can get him into this plan.”

Now granted, I trust that the staff knows when he’s ready to contribute but practice speed and game speed are two different things. His first preseason game saw him drop a pass (albeit thrown with questionable touch) that resulted in an INT for his quarterback. He would go on to fair much better in his fourth preseason game with 2 catches for 77 yards and a TD.

It obviously took him some time to get up to speed, but those games were meaningless and the current scenario now begs the question - Does game rust and lack of action in the offense for Meredith show up at an inopportune time?

I brought all of this to you to make a single point.

There is some serious boom or bust potential with the timing of these changes. On one hand, the “newness” of these players and roles could give the Saints a slight advantage in what will be an otherwise close game. On the other they provide a breeding ground for potential mishaps because of that very same “newness”.

In a rivalry that is usually won by the team that makes the fewest mistakes, we’ll find out which side of the coins these moves land on following Sunday’s game.

Matchup to watch vs Falcons

The Falcons offensive line is missing starting left guard Andy Levitre after he was placed on IR earlier this week. If the secondary is going to hold up against Atlanta’s receiving talent, the defensive line will need to be the catalyst that makes it all possible. Yes, it’s important that the defensive backs force Ryan to go through more than his 1st or 2nd read, but it’s up to the front seven to make him pay when he does. Once you begin hitting Ryan (like any other quarterback) that’s when the mistakes and the second guessing start to appear. If they can rattle him Marshon Lattimore, Ken Crawley, and Marcus Williams should have a chance to turn some tipped passes or errant throws into turnovers late in the game.

Random Thought I

Even at a young age, when you walk out on the field with your friends you know the consequences of playing tackle football. While being hurt as a kid was more likely than getting injured, you still recognized it’s a gladiator sport. Interesting that many QBs are coming out and trashing the NFL’s current aims to protect the quarterback position.

Random Thought II

Add the recent news that Saints plan to start P.J. Williams in place of Ken Crawley, as another change that has boom or bust potential.

The Saints offense is moving the ball and the Falcons offense is moving the ball. The Saints defense is giving up points and the Falcons defense is giving up points. Per usual in this rivalry, it could all come down to which defense or special teams makes the key play that ultimately ends up being the difference in this game. There will be plenty of opportunities for either side but with the Falcons down at least three of it’s primary play makers and the Saints fairly healthy New Orleans should could steal a victory in Atlanta.

Prediction: Saints win 28-27