With the NFL's final roster cutdown to 53 coming up on Saturday and a quick turnaround for the club's September 9 opener against Minnesota at the Louisiana Superdome to kickoff the NFL's regular season looming, the New Orleans Saints (2-1) will close out the preseason on Thursday at the Tennessee Titans (1-2) at Nashville's LP Field. The game will be broadcast regionally on CST at 7 p.m. CT.
Tonight's contest will be the final opportunity for many of the players on the roster, which currently stands at 75 to nab a spot, based on their play on offense, defense or special teams.
All three of these units made significant contributions on Friday evening, when the Saints defeated the San Diego Chargers 36-21 in a nationally televised contest in the Superdome.
Dating back to when they were the Houston Oilers, the Titans have been New Orleans' most common preseason opponent as the two clubs have squared off 26 times, with the Saints possessing a 14-11-1 edge. In their last preseason meeting in 2006, it marked the head coaching debut of Sean Payton, Drew Brees' first appearance as a member of the black and gold and the NFL premieres of then-rookie RB Reggie Bush and Titans QB VInce Young, the second and third choices in that years draft. Tennessee and New Orleans have met 12 times in the regular season, with the Saints trailing 7-4-1.
The Saints improved their preseason record to 2-1 on Friday as they rolled up 552 total yards of offense, 423 through the air and 129 through the ground, while the defense allowed only 68 yards on the ground and recorded two interceptions, one returned late in the fourth quarter by CB Leigh Torrence 87 yards for a touchdown.
QB Drew Brees saw his most extensive action of the preseason. After appearing in only three series' apiece in each of the first two preseason games, Brees played into the third quarter on Friday night. He completed 18 of 27 passes for 240 yards and two touchdown throws and a passer rating of 119.4. His 46-yard TD pass to WR Devery Henderson in the first quarter was his first of the preseason. He also had a 15-yard TD pass to WR Robert Meachem in the second quarter.
RB Reggie Bush led all receivers with seven catches for 70 yards. Battling for a roster spot and potential gameday role on offense, rookie RB Chris Ivory had 121 yards from scrimmage – 76 coming on a fourth-quarter catch-and-run for a touchdown on a pass from QB Patrick Ramsey. Ivory led all Saints rushers with 45 yards on 11 carries. He's ranked third in the NFL in the preseason with 217 total yards from scrimmage, a team leading 45 which have come on the ground.
Defensively, LB Jonathan Vilma led all Saints defenders with seven solo tackles, while LB Scott Shanle had six tackles and a pass defensed. In addition to Torrence's late pick for a score, S Usama Young also had a third quarter interception.
On special teams, K Garrett Hartley made three-of-three field goals and P Thomas Morstead had a 50.3 gross avegage on six punts. Second-year S Chip Vaughn led the team with three special teams stops on kickoff and punt coverage.