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John DeShazier: Five things to watch for in Saints-Ravens preseason game

What position will Andrus Peat play?

  1. We know that first-round pick Andrus Peatwill play Thursday against the Baltimore Ravens, we just aren't exactly sure which position(s) he'll occupy. Peat, whom the New Orleans Saints envision as a tackle (and, most likely, a right tackle, since Terron Armstead is looking like a potential star at left tackle), has practiced in training camp at every offensive line position except center. So it wouldn't exactly be a shock if Coach Sean Paytondecided to get a peek at Peat, under game conditions, at more than one spot along the offensive line. Of course, Payton also could resist that urge and have the No. 13 overall pick strictly play right tackle in his NFL debut. It bears watching to see what Peat will be up to during the series' that he plays.
  1. The real separation process begins at 6:30 p.m. central Thursday within the receiving corps. Payton said it will be important to see how players will perform under the lights, and this likely was one of the position groups to which he was referring. Beyond Marques Colstonand Brandin Cooks, there are no definitive answers. Brandon Colemanand Seantavius Joneslook like locks, and it's obvious that the coaching staff loves their potential, but they still have work to do. And while Joseph Morganand Nick Toonat least have game experience with New Orleans, neither is so far ahead of the secondary pack that he appears to have solidified a roster spot. So this will be a chance for Willie Snead, Josh Morgan, Lance Lewis, Kyle Prater, R.J. Harrisand Jalen Saunders(if he plays) to make a mark that's more lasting than an outstanding play or two in training camp practice.
  1. Can the Saints line up with the proper number of players defensively? Ordinarily, that'd be a fairly insulting question but given the way the Saints brain-cramped in the Black and Gold Scrimmage and in a practice or two leading up to the scrimmage, it actually is a legitimate query. Twice, Payton said, the defense lined up with 12 players and once, with 10 in the Black and Gold. The good thing is that if it happens against the Ravens, this is the preseason opener and mistakes are expected. The bad thing is, failing to line up with the proper number is players isn't a mistake that should be expected, or condoned, at any time. New Orleans believes it ironed out that problem during the practice week and hopefully, the Saints won't be overly affected by the sideline chaos that can occur during a game.
  1. Also defensively, the cornerbacks should merit watching. The scheme and mentality has adjusted to fit the personnel – New Orleans now believes it has corners that can hold up in man-to-man coverage, and not just starters Keenan Lewisand Brandon Browner. Delvin Breauxand Stanley Jean-Baptiste could get a decent amount of game reps and the rest of the corners, led by Kyle Wilson, likely will get to display their cover skills against the Ravens. We're not sure how exotic will be the gameplan devised by Rob Ryan but if the corners are going to be asked to hold up in coverage this season, it has to be a commitment all the time.
  1. Last year, Luke McCownand Ryan Griffinmostly were competing to see which would be the backup quarterback to Drew Brees. This year, it likely is for a roster spot. When the Saints picked Garrett Graysonin the third round, it probably wasn't so they could cut him, wait for no other team to pick him up and sign him to the practice squad. The third-round investment says it all. So if Brees and Grayson are safe, and the Saints are going to carry three quarterbacks (they have the past two seasons), then McCown and Griffin are going to be the major focus of the position in training camp and preseason. Payton will divvy up the reps for each, give him a chance to hopefully work an even number of snaps with the same units, and go from there.
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