The New Orleans Saints‘ first preseason game of the 2013 NFL season is later this evening at home against the Kansas City Chiefs. Although we are unlikely to see the likes of Drew Brees and other likely first-string guys for much more than a couple of series in the first quarter, there will still be plenty to watch for.
I very much want to see how the defense looks and plays and perhaps more importantly, how new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan fits into his new role following New Orleans’ disastrous defensive outing last year. It’s not easy switching both your defensive coordinator and your defensive scheme and with Sean Payton back in command, Ryan will be under pressure to produce acceptable results.
I don’t think anybody is expecting a top-10 kind of defensive effort, but almost anything would be better than last year’s defense, which allowed more than 7,000 total yards and claimed a new NFL record.
The New Orleans secondary should be much better this year with the addition of former Pittsburgh Steelers corner back Keenan Lewis, and I’m excited about rookie safety Kenny Vaccaro possibly getting some significant playing time this year. He has shown great enthusiasm, speed and aggressiveness in training camp so far. I hope that will translate onto the field.
Most importantly, however, I am anxious to see how the Saints’ new scheme and training camp injuries will affect the linebackers and defensive line.
Defensive end Kenyan Coleman, who was probably going to provide some depth to the Saints’ defensive line, is likely out for the season with a chest injury. Martez Wilson suffered an elbow injury earlier this week and will be out for up to four weeks. Outside linebacker Junior Galette left Wednesday’s practice with trainers and did not participate in team activities from that point on. Free agent acquisition Victor Butler was also lost to an ACL injury in June.
This leaves some mysteries in the Saints’ defense, but gives us fans plenty to watch for for. Keep a close eye on the New Orleans defensive effort tonight, but don’t expect too much just yet.