NFL New Orleans Saints

New Orleans Saints: 5 Things To Watch For In Week 3 of Preseason

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What To Watch For In Saints' Presason Week 3

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Heading into Week 3 of preseason and ultimately into the beginning of the regular season, it is an exciting time for the ​New Orleans Saints​. Head coach ​Sean Payton​ is now back in the captain's chair, ​​new defensive coordinator ​Rob Ryan has shown us glimpses of his defensive potential and it appears to be business as usual in New Orleans.

The Saints should get their first real preseason test against the ​Houston Texans​ this coming Sunday in a nationally televised game in Houston. The Texans are a fairly stable franchise with capable players such as ​Matt Schaub​, ​Andre Johnson​, ​Arian ​Foster​ and ​J.J. Watt​. They are also the first and only team New Orleans will face this preseason that went to the playoffs last season. So, in many ways this will be a test of how the Saints can regroup and come together following the disappointing season last year.

Aside from this test that New Orleans will face in Houston, there is plenty to watch for as Week 3 of preseason begins, leading to the Sunday matchup.

The defense, of course, will continue to draw interest and so too will ​Drew Brees​. Wide receiver depth is also high up on the list as we get closer and closer to the regular season, as is running back ​Mark Ingram​ and the year that he has ahead of him. The offensive line is mostly in place as well, though there is still reason to continue keeping an eye on that.

Here are five areas of interest for Saints fans to watch as Week 3 of preseason begins.

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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Special Teams Must Not Take Any Steps Backwards

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The special teams effort in Week 1 against the Kansas City Chiefs wasn't very good. Missed tackles and long kickoff and punt returns drew the attention of head coach Sean Payton who wanted to see considerable improvement in the unit's play. Week 2 was far better against the Oakland Raiders, but will that be able to translate success against the Houston Texans?

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Drew Brees Should Continue Playing At High Level

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Drew Brees appears to have shaken off some of the rust in the victory against the Raiders. Brees threw for over 200 yards in the first half and also found Kenny Stills for a touchdown pass. Bress' next test will come against the Texans, who boast a capable defense and a trip to the playoffs last year.

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This Could Be Mark Ingram's Breakout Year

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Mark Ingram found the end zone against the Raiders and ran for 30 yards on nine carrier. Look for him to become more involved in the running game, most likely in the outside zone running, especially once the regular season begins. Ingram was healthy in the offseason and is poised to finally have that breakout year that the Saints have been hoping for.

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Wide Receiver Roster Is Still Not Finished

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Joe Morgan's season ending ACL injury opened the door for several other receivers. After bringing in veterans Steve Breaston and Patrick Crayton, it was younger players like Kenny Stills and Nick Toon who stole the spotlight against the Raiders. Toon had a 56 yard catch and Still caught a touchdown pass from Brees. Look for the wide receiver battle to continue to play out this week.

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Can Rob Ryan deliver a potent defense?

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

New Orleans' defensive effort in the first half against the Raiders was impressive. Rob Ryan and company delivered five sacks against Matt Flynn and totaled seven in the game, along with a safety and an interception. The question on everybody's mind is if that was for real, or just a product of playing against a not very good Oakland team. Continue to watch the defense develop and evolve this week as they should get their first real test against Houston next Sunday.