The New Orleans Saints will be looking to close out their 2013 preseason on a high note when they play their exhibition finale against the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium on Thursday, Aug. 29. This will mark New Orleans‟ first return to the site of the franchise‟s biggest triumph, when they captured Super Bowl XLIV in the same venue.
Thursday‟s game will mark the final time that players will be able to make impressions on the coaching staff for roster spots prior to the final NFL-mandated roster cutdown to 53 players on Saturday, Aug. 31.
The Saints and the Dolphins have faced each other 20 times in the preseason, with Miami holding a 13-7 edge. The two clubs will also play in the regular season just a little more than a month from now when New Orleans hosts Miami at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Monday, Sept. 30.
New Orleans improved its preseason record to 3-0 on Sunday with a 31-23 win over the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium. In addition to the fight for spots on the 53-man roster on Thursday, the Saints will have the opportunity to have an undefeated preseason for the first time in franchise history.
Key contributions on offense, defense and special teams sparked the win over the Texans. In slightly more than a quarter of work, quarterback Drew Brees completed four-of-six passes for 104 yards and a 149.3 passer rating, leaving the game following a 51-yard completion for a touchdown to running back Pierre Thomas.
In addition to Thomas' touchdown grab, the New Orleans receiving corps were the recipients of several other explosive pass plays. Rookie wideout Kenny Stills made a spectacular one-handed second quarter grab and later in the drive caught a 14-yard pass for a touchdown. Andy Tanner made three receptions for 33 yards in the second half, including a game-high two touchdown grabs.
In addition to Thomas seeing his first action of the preseason and receiving the start, where he carried four times for 19 yards in addition to his receiving touchdown, running back Mark Ingram also saw extensive action, where he led the club in rushing with four carries for 24 yards and also posted two receptions for 28 yards, including a 29-yard grab.
Defensively, New Orleans stopped Houston on downs twice out of four possessions in the second half to help preserve the victory. Safety Kenny Vaccaro led the club with six tackles (five solo), while linebacker Ramon Humber added five solo stops, including a tackle on a fourth-and-one play from the New Orleans 1-yard line where the Saints executed a successful goal-line stand. Defensive ends Cameron Jordan and Glenn Foster each added sacks. Foster, an undrafted rookie from Illinois, leads the Saints with four takedowns in the preseason, ranked second in the NFL.
The Dolphins, who have posted a 1-3 mark in the preseason, will look to enter the regular season on a highnote against the surging Saints. Miami dropped a tight 17-16 contest to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last Saturday.