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Saints at Cardinals: Five things to watch

Delvin Breaux to make his debut for hometown Saints

  1. It doesn't get more real than this for cornerback Delvin Breaux, the New Orleans native whose amazing story – from hot prep prospect, to LSU signee who broke his neck, to Arena League and CFL standout, to NFL tryout and roster spot with the Saints – has been told time and again. With Keenan Lewis'injury, Breaux graduates from starting nickel back to starting corner, and all the rave reviews he earned during the OTAs and training camp will need to become reality if the Saints' secondary hopes to improve. With Brandon Brownerbeing the starter on the other side, Breaux probably will have some throws coming his way until he proves he's not one to be picked on. He has all the tools to be a standout; this is his first chance to show it during a regular-season game.
  1. Saints fans who were none too pleased about the Jimmy Grahamtrade should feel a bit better about it after getting a look at the players acquired during the preseason. In exchange for the sensational tight end, New Orleans picked up a Pro Bowl-caliber center (Max Unger)and a first-round pick (linebacker Stephone Anthony) that certainly appears to have the goods. Unger upgraded and solidified the middle of the offensive line, and his teammates reveal that his intelligence in terms of making calls at the line is excellent. And if a move helps to keep Drew Breesclean and upright, it has to be considered a good move. Anthony has proven capable of calling the defense and just as much, he should be a physical presence against the run and is athletic enough to play on passing downs. Graham was a steep price, but getting two starters in return for one is worth it.
  1. Quarterback pressure during the preseason wasn't non-existent, but absolutely it wasn't at an acceptable level for the Saints. Players mostly downplayed it due to the fact that opposing quarterbacks made some quick throws and they weren't really "gaming" offenses. But New Orleans will have to apply pressure to Arizona's Carson PalmerSunday if it's going to have success defensively. It won't matter how improved is the secondary if Palmer has an extended amount of time to locate targets. Defensive tackle Kevin Williamsjoked that no one should panic unless the Saints are sack-less through six games. But there will be concern if there's carryover from the preseason in which New Orleans produced just two of them.
  1. Speaking of carryover – or more accurately, the desire to not experience a carryover – the Saints committed 44 penalties in their four preseason games. True, many were committed by young players adapting to the NFL, some of whom failed to make the 53-man roster. Still, it's an area that must be monitored especially in the secondary, with defensive backs playing a bit more man-to-man and hoping to hold up cleanly in coverage. The Saints haven't been a high-penalty team in the past, so the expectation is that the preseason trend will change.
  1. Offensively, the Saints looked dynamic in the preseason when Breeswas at the helm. He has been sharp and especially looks to rebound from a season in which he battled an injury and committed an uncharacteristic number of turnovers. Regardless of what happens defensively, the Saints want to start fast on offense and they want to maintain the proper tempo. Brees knows this offense and system as well as anyone possibly could, so that will help it function on the road against a formidable Cardinals defense.

Photos of the Saints 2015 53-man roster. New Orleans Saints photos.

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