The New Orleans Saints road to the regular season continues this Sunday with a matchup against the Los Angeles Chargers. After stealing a victory in week one of the preseason, the Saints will look to make it two in a row in a bout with the Chargers.
We still have no word on whether or not we’ll see the Saints starters on Sunday, but if we do, I would imagine it would only be for one drive, so let’s focus on the second and third stringers.
Jameis Winston came in against the Chiefs and put on a show, going 11-13 for 92-yards and a beautiful touchdown to rookie wide receiver A.T. Perry. Winston did hold on to the ball too long at times, taking three sacks, but the second-string offensive line didn’t do him many favors.
Jake Haener made his NFL debut on Sunday, and it didn’t go exactly as expected. After going three and out on his first drive, Haener threw a pick on the ensuing possession. His next three drives ended in a punt, but when it mattered the most, Haener drove 76-yards down the field in six plays and scored a touchdown to put the game within two points. On the two-point conversion however, there was a miscommunication and the snap got away from Haener, resulting in a sack. With his first game under his belt, we can hope Haener will be more comfortable against the Chargers and give us a more encouraging performance.
Perry went off in his NFL debut, catching six passes for 70-yards and touchdown. Bryan Edwards, Kawaan Baker, Shaq Davis and Ellis Merriweather all contributed two catches with Merriweather scoring the game winning touchdown. Perry was already close to a lock to make the 53-man roster, but he very well could’ve solidified it this past weekend. Expect Perry to play on Sunday, but the Saints could rely heavily on some of the other receivers to make their case for the last couple WR spots.
As we know, Kendre Miller suffered a knee sprain against the Chiefs and likely won’t see the field until at least week one. With Alvin Kamara, Jamaal Williams and Kendre Miller all virtual locks for the roster, Ellis Merriweather and Kirk Merritt will be battling for a roster spot. Merriweather handled most of the load when Miller went out, rushing nine times for 24-yards while hauling in two passes for one touchdown. Merritt didn’t see a carry or target, so he’ll have some work to do on Sunday to make up for week one.
For the most part, the Chargers defense did a good job shutting down the Rams offense this past weekend. The Rams only put up 17-points, but once Stetson Bennett came in, he was giving their defense fits. Bennett went 17/29 for 191 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. If Winston can put on a similar show to last Sunday and Haener can improve on his performance, the Saints should have no problem moving the ball through the air.
The Chargers defense struggled a little bit stopping the run against the Rams. The Rams ran the ball 24 times for 99-yards (4.2 average) and one touchdown. The Rams only ripped off one run of over 10-yards, but the Chargers were steadily moving the ball 3-5 yards on every carry. The Saints offensive line looked weak once the backups came in, so they’ll need to prove they can provide some push against the Chargers defensive line just like the Rams did on Sunday.
One facet of the game the Chargers defense shined in was pass rush as they were credited with four sacks on the evening. The Saints O-line gave up three sacks, all on Winston, and that could be an area for concern again on Sunday. Each drive Winston was sacked on ended up in a punt. If the Saints want to eat another W on Sunday, the offensive line is going to have to hold up against the Chargers pass rush.
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