Coach Sean Payton has been adamant that though the preseason schedule has shortened from four to three games, the New Orleans Saints' third preseason game would be a "third" preseason game.
In past years the third preseason game most closely has mimicked a regular season game, in terms of starters playing as much as the first half, than any of the others. But that doesn't necessarily mean New Orleans will follow that format when the Saints play Arizona on Saturday night in the Caesars Superdome.
"We're going to meet today as a staff," Payton said Thursday, Aug. 26. "There's some positions I'd like to do that with and then there's others, just based on where we're at either health-wise or depth-wise, where we have to be somewhat flexible."
Too, he said the staff will discuss the quarterback rotation. Taysom Hill started the first preseason game against Baltimore and played with the starting unit, and Jameis Winston had that responsibility in the second preseason game, against Jacksonville.
"I've got a few thoughts but I don't want to be early with what I'm thinking," Payton said.
FORWARD, MARTZ: The Saints had a guest at Thursday's training camp practice. Former Rams Coach Mike Martz will be in town for the next several days to consult.
The 70-year-old Martz was offensive coordinator (1999) and coach (2000-05) of the Rams and orchestrated the "Greatest Show On Turf" offense, which thus far has produced three Hall of Famers – New Orleans native and running back Marshall Faulk, quarterback Kurt Warner and receiver Isaac Bruce.
"I've known him forever," Payton said. "Never had the chance to work with him but he was a part of so many really good offenses. There's a few principles that I wanted him to really work with us on. So he'll be kind of sitting in on offensive meetings, being able to look at tape. There's a bunch of us that I think can learn from having him for a few days. One of the better offensive coaches our league has seen.
"There was a stretch where I was in New York and it was a little bit of a coincidence, but it seemed like we played the Rams every year for about three years. And, man, everyone was studying their offensive film. They set a number of records offensively.
"So whether it's, 'How'd they use Faulk in certain situations, is there something that we can do with Alvin (Kamara) that we're not doing currently? Is there something we can do with our play action?' If there's one or two ideas that we can apply to our team this upcoming team that fits us, then it's worth it. He's exceptionally smart. Just having him watch practice and make observations, it's pretty impressive."
THE EVALUATION PROCESS: Payton said that games hold a higher value than practice during the evaluation process. "I think your games gives you a little bit more because you're in a game environment vs. unknown competition," he said. "I think it's all factored in, and yet, games obviously carry a significant amount because it's a game setting.
"But usually, if you're seeing it show up in a game, you've probably seen it (in practice). Sometimes, that game is what's needed for that confidence. Some guys in practice can excel but for whatever reason they have a hard time going across the street into the stadium."
SHORT-HANDED: With tight ends Adam Trautman and Nick Vannett missing practice, the Saints were down to three (Juwan Johnson, Ethan Wolf and Garrett Griffin) for Thursday's practice. It's not the only position that has been thinned by injury. Payton said it has become a bit challenging to maneuver the snap counts.
"(Monday) night, we had a couple players have to play 40 snaps, we got a little thin at corner," he said. "That latter group was gassed by the end of that game. That's always the challenge sometimes in preseason; you have a full roster but you're trying to hold certain players and somewhere, someone has to pick up those snaps."
BITS AND PIECES: Payton announced that defensive back Bryce Thompson was waived injured. Among those missing Thursday's practice were receiver Tre'Quan Smith, cornerback Ken Crawley, left tackle Terron Armstead and defensive end Payton Turner.