With a split of their first two exhibition games in the books, the Saints will open their 2012 Mercedes-Benz Superdome slate Friday when they host the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Friday's game against the Jaguars will be New Orleans' first preseason meeting with the Jaguars since they came into the NFL as an expansion franchise in 1995. The two teams last met in the regular season on Sunday, October 2, 2011 at Jacksonville's EverBank Field. The Saints won that contest 23-10 and advanced to 3-1 for the season. The teams have played five times in the regular season and New Orleans leads the series 3-2.
New Orleans will wrap up training camp this week following a 7-6 loss to the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. on August 9. Although the Saints fell to the Patriots after defeating the Arizona Cardinals in the Hall of Fame Game 17-10, the club was able to gleam positives out of the contest as well as two prior days of work in joint practices with the defending AFC champions.
While the New Orleans starting offense played only the first two series', the defense, still developing under new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo played a little bit longer and enjoyed solid results against one of the most highflying offenses in the NFL. The Saints surrendered only 279 net yards and held New England to 73 yards in the ground game, while making two impact defensive plays in the first half. In the first quarter, DE Will Smith sacked Patriots QB Tom Brady for an 11-yard loss and then forced him to cough up the ball, which was recovered by LB Curtis Lofton, who also shined in a six tackle effort in limited action, helping set up a field goal, which was the only score of the half. In the second quarter, CB Marquis Johnson picked off New England signal-caller Ryan Mallett.
More action can be expected from the first unit than in the first two preseason contests played away from home both on offense and defense. QB Drew Brees and the offense will look forward to the opportunity for more time together. Although, the Jaguars struggled to a 5-11 record in 2011, that resulted in a coaching change at the head position to Mike Mularkey, Jacksonville retained defensive coordinator Mel Tucker who has formed an opportunistic, aggressive unit that gave the Saints offense fits at times last year in a 23-10 New Orleans victory at EverBank Field on October 2.
The game will be regionally televised on Cox Sports Television (and WVUE-FOX8 in the New Orleans area) with Tim Brando handling the play-by-play, Solomon Wilcots serving as the color analyst and Mike Nabors patrolling the Saints sidelines. The game can be heard throughout the Gulf Coast on the New Orleans Saints Radio Network (870 AM and 105.3 FM serve as the flagship stations in the New Orleans metropolitan area) with Jim Henderson handling play-by-play duties, Hokie Gajan serving as color analyst and Kristian Garic reporting from the Saints sidelines.