The home preseason opener at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome carries with it many of the same ramifications as did the preseason opener at Jacksonville last week. Namely, the evaluation process for some New Orleans Saints players is ongoing. And though we may see the preseason debuts of players like Drew Brees and Cam Jordan, they are known commodities. The Saints have to assess their unknowns – the continued auditions for Tom Savage and Taysom Hill at backup quarterback goes without saying – so here are a handful of other players to keep an eye on:
- Did you like what you saw from running back Jonathan Williams in the preseason opener? If you didn't, you should have. Four carries for 26 yards, and a touchdown, on the possession that led to the game-winning touchdown, showcased Williams as a physical runner who looks forward to plowing through. There still is much to be sorted out regarding who will get the bulk of the carries that would have gone to Mark Ingram as he serves his league-mandated, four-game suspension to start the regular season. But Williams has made himself a viable contender.
- There are a lot of reps to be had at right defensive end, and it looks like Trey Hendrickson is ready to assume the load as Alex Okafor and Marcus Davenport attempt to return from injuries. Hendrickson isn't just "high motor" – he's talented and he's physical. Not that he's in any danger of making the 53-man roster; the third-round pick from 2017 already has shown he belongs. But he has been getting quality work at left defensive end, and he has the ability to flip sides and perform at a high level. He's always a fun one to watch because of his activity.
- The return game against Arizona possibly will feature the likes of receiver Josh Huff, running back Shane Vereen and defensive back Natrell Jamerson. We saw receiver Brandon Tate and running back Boston Scott against Jacksonville. The sorting process isn't nearly complete, though Tate and Scott each popped a decent kickoff return against the Jaguars. There's a roster spot awaiting the player who can impress. Also, let's not forget receiver Tommylee Lewis, who has returned from injury and is in the mix here as well as receiver position.
- The only thing defensive back Arthur Maulet has done is make plays throughout training camp. He's physical, and he competes. New Orleans had a vision for him last year when he was signed as an undrafted rookie, and he looks ready to step into the rotation and contribute. He already is a valued special team player, but Maulet really has shown improvement in coverage.
- Former LSU standout Will Clapp received a lot of quality reps along the offensive line when center Cameron Tom was injured. Clapp has worked at center and at both guard spots, and we know how valuable versatility is as a backup offensive lineman. Figure on him getting more quality work as preseason progresses.