Saints Preseason Preview: Week 1 at Ravens

Saints Preseason Preview

The New Orleans Saints exhibition slate will get underway on Saturday night against the Baltimore Ravens. After a strong 2020 campaign that saw the Saints go 12-4 and win the NFC South, major changes have hit the team. The core of that squad has been altered but talent remains. The first chance to see new players and how the team may fit together is right around the corner. The Saints first preseason game may be a preview of things to come in the 2021 season.

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What to Watch for in Saints Preseason Opener at Baltimore

There are plenty of intriguing storylines ahead of the game for New Orleans. The quarterback competition between Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill is one place to start. The usual camp battles will include finding a temporary (or perhaps permanent) replacement for wide receiver Michael Thomas.

Saints Preseason Preview: Quarterback Battle Front and Center for New Orleans

The competition for who will lead the post-Drew Brees era Saints has been a mixed bag so far. Winston and Hill have both shown flashes in their career but neither is going to make Saints fans forget about Brees. This season will be about who can keep the team steady enough at the quarterback position to contend for a playoff spot. Having two quarterbacks can be like having no quarterbacks if neither can separate themselves from the competition.

Both players have been up-and-down in training camp but have an opportunity to prove their worth in the Saints preseason opener. Can Winston cut down on his comical amount of turnovers? Does Hill prove to be more than a gimmick at the quarterback position? Head coach Sean Payton has to be hoping that somebody steps up and gives him some guidance on who may be playing when the stakes are real.

“I’d like to see these guys operate, both of them, in all three of these games,” Payton said, to ESPN. “Certainly by the end of the preseason games and possibly maybe before that — a week prior to the last game [we’ll reach a decision]. But I haven’t sat down as a staff and said, ‘This is the date.’”

To this point, Payton has not said who will be starting on Saturday, or if it really matters in the grand scheme of things. Both quarterbacks will get plenty of reps in an effort to clarify a muddy picture.

Wide Receiver a Key Position for Saints Without Michael Thomas

As part of a tumultuous off-season in New Orleans, the team’s star wideout opted for surgery in June. The timing has caused a rift between Thomas and the team’s management and coaches. There has been speculation that the team may try to trade the two-time All-Pro. A recent Yahoo report suggests that Thomas and Payton are trying to work out their issues.

No matter what happens in the communication between the two sides, the 2019 AP Offensive Player of the Year will not be suiting up anytime soon. This leaves a gaping hole in the receiver depth chart. Tre’Quan Smith is probably the most accomplished of the group but has missed a lot of training camp and likely will not suit up.

Marquez Callaway has been the standout of training camp, according to Saints beat writers. The second-year pro had 21 catches for 213 yards last season. This year he has switched to jersey #1 after the NFL changed rules for what numbers players could wear. Callaway may be the number one option in New Orleans Saturday night and well into the season.

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