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New Orleans Saints vs. St. Louis Rams game preview

A preview of tonight's game against the St. Louis Rams

Two weeks of training camp will be in the books when the New Orleans Saints kick off their 2014 preseason slate and travel to St. Louis to face the Rams on Friday, August 8. This will be only the third preseason meeting between the two old NFC West rivals and the first time they have met since 1967 and 1968, the first two years of existence for the Saints and when the Rams franchise was located in Los Angeles. The two clubs last met on December 15, 2013 when the Rams defeated the Saints 27-16 at the Edward Jones Dome.

Under the supervision of Head Coach Sean Payton in training camp, the Saints are building on an 11-5 2013 campaign which saw the club return to the playoffs after missing them for one season and posting the franchise's first postseason road victory.

Under Payton, the Saints have posted a 16-13 record in the preseason, as he uses this time to allow players to showcase their talent and fight for a roster spot. The active roster must be reduced to 75 players on August 26 and on August 30 the roster will narrowed down to the final 53, as they will then begin preparations for the September 7 regular season opener at the Atlanta Falcons.

QB Drew Brees will lead an offensive unit that enjoyed another productive campaign in 2013, finishing fourth in the NFL in offense (399.4 ypg.). The signal-caller completed 446-of-650 passes for 5,162 yards and 39 touchdowns in 2013. The club also re-signed TE Jimmy Graham to a four-year contract after he led the club in receiving with 86 catches for 1,215 yards with an NFL-best and club-record 16 touchdowns. Competition is present at several positions, most prevalent at wide receiver with a mixture of youth and veterans and at center between Jonathan Goodwin and Tim Lelito.

In 2013 New Orleans also finished fourth in the NFL in total defense-a 28-spot improvement from 2012, with the 134.4 net yards per game improvement the biggest since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger. OLB Junior Galette and DE Cameron Jordan became the club's first duo to post double-digit sacks since 2004. The signing of free agent CB Keenan Lewis proved to be a shrewd addition by the club as the New Orleans native led the team with four interceptions. New Orleans will look to build on this defensive improvement in 2014 following the acquisition of free agent S Jairus Byrd from the Buffalo Bills. Byrd has
posted 22 interceptions since entering the NFL in 2009, the second-highest league total in that period.

The Rams overcame the midseason loss of QB Sam Bradford to a season-ending knee injury that required surgery, winning two of their last three games to finish 7-9. Led by the powerful pass rush duo of defensive ends Chris Long and Robert Quinn who combined for 27.5 sacks, the Rams welcome back a healthy Bradford who tossed for 14 touchdowns and only four interceptions before injury, as they seek improve in the NFC West.

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