NFL New Orleans Saints

New Orleans Saints: What To Watch For Leading Up To Preseason Opener

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Six Things To Watch Leading Up To The Preseason Opener

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

With the New Orleans Saints slated to begin their preseason at home against the Kansas City Chiefs this coming Friday, Saints fans can rest easy; football season is finally upon us! That being said, New Orleans' fans shouldn't just sit back with a cold beer and some chips and watch the preseason action. Fans should watch several aspects of the game carefully to better understand where the team is and where it might be going.

Although preseason football is much less intense than its regular season counterpart, there is still plenty to watch in New Orleans in the run-up to the regular season. For instance, there are questions at wide receiver and a change in offensive philosophy regarding the running game. Also of importance will be the offensive line after the departure of Jermon Bushrod to the Chicago Bears.

Perhaps the most interesting area to watch this preseason will be on the defensive side of the ball. Following a historically bad year on defense last season, the Saints will look to rebound and give its defense some teeth with the arrival of new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, free agent acquisition Keenan Lewis and other draft picks.

So rest easy, Saints fans, football is finally back and New Orleans will undoubtedly do better than they did last season. That is almost a guarantee. But, at the same time, be sure to keep an eye on these six important areas concerning New Orleans as the preseason begins to play out and the regular season draws closer.

Jack Cavanaugh is a New Orleans Saints contributing writer for Follow him on Twitter @cav_jack, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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Saints' Complete Wide Receiver Roster Is Still Unknown

Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports

With Joe Morgan suffering a foot injury in Saturday's scrimmage, there are spots to be filled in the Saints' wide receiver roster. Laurent Robinson will workout with New Orleans on Monday. If Robinson were to join the Saints he might have a shot at his first 1,000 yard receiving season.

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Will Kenny Vaccaro Make An Impact At Safety?

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

I'm looking for Kenny Vaccaro to make an impact at the safety position and to vastly improve the secondary over last year's effort. Vaccaro plays an aggressive style of in-your-face football and he doesn't back down or apologize for playing that way, either.

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Keenan Lewis Should Bolster Saints Secondary

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

With a second best 23 passes defended last year, Keenan Lewis should also help to improve a lousy secondary from last season. Lewis has been impressive throughout training camp thus far, so look for him to translate that into success come regular season.

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Is This Mark Ingram's Breakout Year?

Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports

After letting Chris Ivory go to the New York Jets in the offseason, the Saints' running back committee will mostly consist of Pierre Thomas, Darren Sproles and Mark Ingram. Ingram, coming into this season after a healthy offseason, could be poised to have a big year with an increased load in running back duties likely coming his way.

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How will Terron Armstead Fit Into the Offensive Line?

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Although Charles Brown is most likely the one to nab the starting left tackle spot, fans should pay attention to what Terron Armstead does in the preseason and training camp. It's likely that he will inherit the left tackle spot in the years to come.

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Rob Ryan's Defense Is Crucial To Saints' Return To Success

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

I've said it before and I'll say it again: How Rob Ryan's defense plays will be crucial to New Orleans regaining the success they've enjoyed in recent years. After a dismal defensive effort last year, even an average defense could do wonders for the team as a whole.