The New Orleans Saints prepare to open up their regular season action agains the Green Bay Packers as the 2021 NFL season finally kicks off on Thursday night. The Saint and Packers will meet on Sunday at 3:25 PM CT in Jacksonville, FL after the team was forced to relocation with the impact of Hurricane Ida.
Ahead of that matchup, the team has answered one big question, the cornerback conundrum. However, several big questions remain.
Will Marshon Lattimore and Deonte Harris be available to start the season?
At this point, this late in the week, it’s hard to imagine anything other than Lattimore and Harris being available. Both would be incredibly vital to a successful outing on Sunday. Marshon Lattimore would have the tall task of matching up with DeVante Adams while Deonte Harris not only helps to flip the flip on the special teams side, but is an increasingly more involved dynamic weapon on offense.
The Saints were 7-0 last season when their average starting field position was better than their own 30-yard line. Both Lattimore and Harris contribute to the possibility of controlling field position and thus the tempo of the game against Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bey Packers.
Seems unlikely either would be suspended at this point. But Saints fans know better than to take anything for granted.
Who will start at cornerback opposite Marshon Lattimore?
On Wednesday, the Saints pulled off a much needed move by trading for former Houston Texans cornerback Bradley Roby. Unfortunately, Roby will be unavailable for the first week of the season. Meanwhile Ken Crawley, the presumed starter until Roby is available, did not participate in practice on Wednesday thanks to a hamstring injury.
If Crawley can’t go, the Saints could lean on rookie corner Paulson Adebo who has a solid preseason. They also added Desmond Trufant on Tuesday, he can also be an option if needed. But would that be too quick for Trufant who was just signed on Tuesday?
Which linebacker starts next to Demario Davis?
Kwon Alexander has made a legendary recovery from his achilles injury on Christmas Day. He told New Orleans media that he plans to play on Sunday. The first Week 1 depth chart reflected a similar sentiment, listing Alexander as the starter at WILL ahead of both Zack Baun and Pete Werner.
Seeing Alexander out on the field at all on Sunday will be remarkable, but starting, even more so. The top alternative seems to be second-year linebacker Zack Baun after rookie linebacker Peter Werner a good chunk of time during the offseason due to injury. In either case, the Saints should field a more athletic second-level than that which they fielded against Aaron Rodgers last season.
Will Payton Turner and Tre’Quan Smith be healthy enough to contribute?
WR Tre’Quan Smith is the presumed WR2 opposite Marquez Callaway. Smith spent much of the offseason working with new starting quarterback Jameis Winston. Unfortunately, the former UCF Golden Knight missed considerable time throughout camp, returning at one point only to leave once more a couple days later.
First-round rookie Payton Turner looked great during camp in the early goings but was held out due to injury starting around August 9th or so, no returning to practice until his week.
The, along with tight end Adam Trautman, could be key contributors for the Saints on Sunday, but where or not they are truly healthy enough to make an impact remains to be seen.
Will Jameis Winston’s turnover concern rear its ugly head?
Judging whether or not Jameis Winston’s turnover concerns are “fixed” or not after a Week 1 matchup is very futile. However, everyone will be watching Winston and head coach Sean Payton closely to see whether or not Jameis Winston has truly grown and matured as a decision-maker on the field. While many of us have confidence in Winston, the shift from a Hall of Fame quarterback to anyone warrants attention.
I expect a majority conservative approach for the Saints, but a willingness to attach deep and stretch the field in a calcuolatory manner. Measured risk taking will be key to turning Winston career around and producing a competitive 2021 club in the Big Easy.
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