KEYS TO WATCH IN TONIGHT'S SAINTS-CHARGERS GAME:
STARTERS SHOWCASE:The third preseason game is generally the contest that the first-team players get the most playing time. The Saints look to echo their first-team running attack from last Saturday's game against the Texans. RBs Reggie Bush (7 carries/49 yards/1 touchdown) *and *Pierre Thomas *(7 carries/24 yards) ignited the running game with help from a number of holes produced by the offensive line.
BREES FACES OLD SQUAD:QB Drew Brees will see his most extensive action of the preseason tonight against the team that drafted him out of Purdue 10 years ago.
Although the reigning Super Bowl MVP has been with the Saints for five years, the New Orleans gunslinger says he always enjoys playing his former team.
"This is my fifth year in New Orleans, so I am far removed from there," said Brees. "But then again, I still know a lot of those guys, and it makes it fun."
Earlier this week, Brees stressed the importance of the third preseason game for the team's starters as he called it their "final dress rehearsal.
"Just like any preseason game, especially this one, we want to come out, look sharp and score some points," said the four-time Pro Bowl selection. "We want to get everybody involved. We want to continue to work on the things that we are trying to improve upon and continue to get better."
IVORY LOOKING TO SECURE SPOT:RB Chris Ivory rushed for a game-high 66 yards last Saturday against the Texans. With season-ending injuries to RB *Lynell Hamilton and *P.J. Hill, Ivory hopes to shine again tonight against the Chargers to secure the No. 3 tailback spot.
BATTLE FOR NO. 2 QB:Last week, QB *Chase Daniel *had his best performance as a Saint by completing 15 of his 21 attempts for 182 yards and three touchdowns. QB *Patrick Ramsey *did not see action against the Texans but will see playing time against the Chargers tonight. Daniel and Ramsey are battteling for the No. 2 spot and have both made strong auditions for the coveted postion. Daniel said earlier this week even with his strong showing against the Chargers, he is only focused on what he can improve on.
"As an offense, you will take 38 points any chance you can get," said Daniel. "I am not worried about that though. There were still mistakes and things I can improve on and that is what I am concentrated on. I approach every day with working on how I can improve."
SPECIAL TEAMS IMPROVEMENT: One key area the Saints coaching staff has stressed it wants to see improvement in is special teams. The Saints released last year's special teams captain **Troy Evans *last week and looks to name a new leader for the squad. The Saints gave up a number of big returns against the Patriots and Texans so far this preseason, including two 40-plus yards returns in each contest. With two games left, a standout play on special teams could be the deciding factor on what certain "bubble" Saints players make the final 53-man roster.