New Orleans Saints players warm up ahead of their 2022 Week 3 game against the Carolina Panthers.
The New Orleans Saints weren't able to emerge with a victory against Carolina on Sunday. But in their 22-14 loss at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C., there were several players that played to a standard that can help New Orleans (1-2) get on the right track as the season progresses.
OFFENSE: Receiver Chris Olave isn't a rookie. At least, none of his teammates seem to believe that of him, and opponents aren't treating him that way. A week after being targeted 13 times and catching five passes for 80 yards against Tampa Bay, Olave again was targeted 13 times against Carolina, and on Sunday set career highs for receptions (nine) and receiving yards (147). It's not just that he can get deep (he caught 49- and 38-yarders against the Panthers), but Carolina warily backed off him and gave him space because of the threat that he'd run past the cornerbacks. Olave is a smooth route runner who can get where he needs to be in a hurry, and also can find soft spots in the zone. New Orleans got a good one who might have to assume more responsibility, depending on the health of other receivers.
DEFENSE: Ever wonder how much pressure linebacker Demario Davis could apply to opposing quarterbacks if he was turned loose as much as some other linebackers? On Sunday, while leading a unit that allowed 15 points and 293 yards, Davis had a sack, a tackle for loss, two quarterback hits, a pass defensed (which provided a fourth-down stop) and five tackles. There isn't much he can't do. New Orleans didn't force a turnover, and the Saints allowed 145 rushing yards, significantly more than they're accustomed to. Figure on Davis being a primary reason that it'll get fixed, especially if he continues playing at Sunday's level.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Blake Gillikin almost can go unnoticed unless he does something otherworldly, which isn't fair to the second-year punter. Sunday, he was steady – six punts, two downed inside the 20, 47.5-yard average and 40.5-yard net – and that was reassuring for a unit that didn't produce much else in terms of a positive impact. He'll have other games where the numbers will be whopping, but he was effective against Carolina and when very little else goes a teams' way, that's enough.
New Orleans Saints players in action during their 2022 Week 3 game against the Carolina Panthers.