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John DeShazier: New Orleans Saints final preseason game could impact a few roster spots

Posted Aug 28, 2013

Most starters aren't expected to play but reserves will be battling for a spot on 53-man roster

Jobs remain on the line.

The New Orleans Saints’ fourth, and final, preseason game of 2013  - against Miami on Thursday night, in Sun Life Stadium – isn’t expected to feature a single Drew Brees pass, any receptions or runs made by key offensive players, or any passes defensed or tackles registered by critical defenders.

What it will feature, though, is several final job interviews for some willing workers. And though they may be willing, positions are limited and time is short.

Still, there are jobs to be won, or lost, for the 53-man regular-season roster. And players who are on the edge had better be prepared to take advantage of the opportunity presented against the Dolphins.

Saints-Texans

“I’d like to see some of these younger players in the kicking game,” Coach Sean Payton said Tuesday. “When you look at the snaps, and there are opportunities before we get to the final roster, there’s still a handful of guys that are still wanting to make an impression.

“You would say it’s their opportunity to make a last impression, and I’ve been a lot of places where guys have made the team on this last preseason game. So the kicking game will be important.

“I’m sure what we do offensively and defensively won’t be too exotic and yet, you want to see some of the fundamentals that we’ve been coaching all during camp show up on film.”

Mainly, the offense will be directed by free agent rookie Ryan Griffin. Griffin (17 for 28 passing for 182 yards and a touchdown, with no interceptions) has been impressive this preseason. He’s expected to relieve Luke McCown and play about three quarters.

“He has handled this transition very well for a first-year player,” Payton said. “He’s able to digest and spit out the terminology pretty fluidly and pretty quickly. I think that’s helped him. He’s got a demeanor that you would want at that position.”

Griffin will lead the brigade of rookies, free agent rookies and players with a few years of experience into battle. However, not all the regulars will have the night off.

Payton specifically mentioned that cornerback Patrick Robinson, a starter last season who likely will play in the sub-packages this season and is rounding back into form after offseason surgery, will play more snaps than he would have if he hadn’t been returning from injury.

“There are a number of guys that I won’t play at all and there’ll be a handful of guys that maybe haven’t had as many snaps, that we’ll give reps to,” Payton said.

Otherwise, for the starters, the night will be spent watching several youngsters audition for roster spots.

“I feel like we got accomplished what we set out to accomplish which was to get a little better each time, get the number of snaps that we felt like we needed, spread the ball around, operate efficiently and effectively with good tempo and rhythm, all those things,” quarterback Drew Brees said.

“You don’t game plan much for these preseason games, your sights are kind of set on it just being part of the process in order to get to that week one. The goal is obviously to be healthy as you can going into week one, and also with as much confidence as you feel you can have. I feel like we have felt that as we are going along.”

The veterans accomplished what they hoped to. For others, there remains work to do.
Jobs remain on the line. Some will be claimed Thursday.


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