As a team, the objective is simple for the New Orleans Saints in the second preseason game, against Jacksonville on Monday night in the Caesars Superdome: Eliminate, or at least sharply reduce, turnovers and penalties.
The Saints have to be much, much cleaner than they were in a 17-14 loss to Baltimore, in which they committed six turnovers and 10 penalties.
The team goal is simple. Here are a few players to watch, who should have an impact on how those things can happen while they trek toward some individual goals:
QUARTERBACKS JAMEIS WINSTON AND TAYSOM HILL: No need in separating the two until Coach Sean Payton does, so here they are. Winston will get the start against the Jaguars, after Hill started the opener against Baltimore. Each had some strong plays against the Ravens, and each threw an interception. Each has had some strong plays in practice during training camp, and each has made some throws and decisions that they obviously would want to have back. The naked-eye test suggests that neither has been able to string together a consistent streak of practices, so a strong game – from either – could go a long way in determining who starts at quarterback in the season opener. Take note of the decision-making, accuracy and caretaking of the football. A "wow" throw or play doesn't mean as much if it's followed by a misread or inaccurate throw.
RECEIVER KEVIN WHITE: There isn't a huge window of evaluation for White, a first-round pick in 2015, so he has to make the most of his opportunity almost immediately. That's not to say he needs to catch four passes; he needs to show a working knowledge of what he's being asked to do, and win his reps regardless of whether he's a target. The film will show his impact better than anything else. He's healthy, his mind is in a great space and he looks the part. Best for him, though, is that there's a legitimate opportunity to grab a roster spot even after joining the team late into training camp.
DEFENSIVE TACKLE SHY TUTTLE: Tuttle started three games in 2020 and in '19, etched his name in Saints' lore with his interception and stiff-arm of Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan. But the former undrafted rookie has slipped; his placement on the depth chart says as much. Rather than elevating to a more prominent role after the departures of Sheldon Rankins and Malcom Brown and the impending suspension of David Onyemata, Tuttle could be scrapping for a roster spot at a position that looks fairly deep. He needs a good showing and he'll probably get a chance to do so because the Saints are a little nicked up at the position. Possibly, that'll mean more snaps for him against the Jaguars.
TIGHT END JUWAN JOHNSON: It's much, much too early to say that moving Johnson from receiver to tight end might be a career-changer. But he looks like a good fit as a receiver in that spot, and he definitely offers some matchup problems. Two catches for 71 yards in the preseason opener suggests he can get open and he can do something with the ball after the catch. New Orleans has Adam Trautman and Nick Vannett ahead of him at the position, but he provides a little pop that, perhaps, neither of them possesses and he'll be looking to build on what he has done in practice. He plays special teams, too, which is a plus, and he's a willing blocker. But it's as a receiver that he'll make the most impact.
SAFETY ERIC BURRELL: Burrell hits people. Hard. Teams usually find ways to keep players like him. We know he can produce the flash play, so now his consistency and attention to detail have to shine through as well.