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New Orleans Saints Coach Dennis Allen planning to play starters in preseason opener

'It's a new season, it's a new group, and I want to see our guys play'


New Orleans Saints starters will play in Sunday's preseason opener against Kansas City. Kickoff is set for noon in the Caesars Superdome.

Coach Dennis Allen on Monday didn't provide a snap count for the starters, and several who have not practiced the last few days – notably, linebacker Demario Davis (calf), left guard Andrus Peat (quad) and receivers Rashid Shaheed and Tre'Quan Smith (groins) – may not be ready for game action. But Allen said he wants to see the front-liners on the field Sunday.

"I would expect our guys to play at least in the first preseason game," he said. "We'll see where we're at.

"I'm planning on playing starting players in the first preseason game, and we'll get to where we're at in the second and the third (preseason games against the Chargers and Texans).

"It's a new season, it's a new group, and I want to see our guys play."

While the starters, including quarterback Derek Carr, are expected to be on the field Sunday, a good portion of preseason snaps at quarterback will be devoted to rookie Jake Haener. The reasoning for that is because New Orleans will hold joint practices with the Chargers and Texans prior to those games, and in joint practices, the quality work generally is given to the first and second units.

Joint practices often provide a competitive environment for those units, almost negating the use for their appearance in the ensuring preseason game.

"I would expect that we'll see a lot of Haener (in the preseason)," Allen said. "We'll see Derek, we'll see (No. 2 quarterback) Jameis (Winston), we'll see Haener.

"All these rookies, I'm curious to see how they handle a game. I've never seen any of them in a live game situation, where I'm there in the building watching them play. So, I'm anxious to see how all these guys respond on the sideline, how do they respond to a good play, how do they respond to a bad play. And Jake's no different than any of the other rookies.

"Obviously, when we get into those practice environments against another team you're probably seeing a little bit more of the 1s and 2s in that environment, and 3s probably aren't getting quite as many reps in that environment. So obviously, in those situations, the game becomes paramount for those guys. We'll cross that bridge when we get to it. But in the first preseason game, I'm expecting to play our guys."

While it is a preseason game, Allen said excitement is building as Sunday approaches.

"It's different than a regular season in that we're still working through our installs right now," he said. "It won't be until later in the week that we get into some of the game-planning for the game, but obviously there's a little bit of excitement as you get toward the end of the week, ramping up and getting ready to go play on a Sunday."

MORE TWEAKS: Davis, Peat, Shaheed and Smith all missed practice due to injuries. additionally, running back Kirk Merritt (hamstring) and tight end Jesse James (groin) left practice early due to their injuries, while defensive back Anthony Johnson (groin) left practice but returned. Allen said none of the aforementioned injuries appears to be significant.

"With all these soft tissue deals, there's varying degrees to which they are," he said. "Most of these, I don't think, are a long time. Longer than I would like, but I don't expect any of them to be long term."

SITUATIONAL WORK: The Saints will be off Tuesday before returning to the practice field Wednesday. Monday's practice included situational work, including the before halftime two-minute drill.

"It was get ourselves in field goal range, secure the field goal first and then if we get a chance to take a shot at the end zone, we can," Allen said. "A lot of situational work, a lot of third down – third-and-goal down there in the red area. That's kind of where we're at in camp now, where we're getting into a lot of the situational type stuff."

The New Orleans Saints took the field for workouts during 2023 Training Camp presented by Rouses Markets on Monday, August 7.

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