Foxboro, Mass. - The New Orleans Saints and the New England Patriots practiced jointly for the second straight day Wednesday. It was a rain-soaked morning session that saw little to no contact as both sides went through a number of smaller details going into Thursday night's preseason game. Here are some observations:
- As exciting, fresh and competitive was Tuesday's practice, the opposite was the case Wednesday. It was all planned. Rain or shine, the Saints and Patriots were going to dial it down the day before a game. They spent most of the practice rehearsing everything from onside kicks to Hail Mary's to late half/game management. It was a final tuneup before a game Thursday night that can present any number of situations without the safety net of a practice do-over.
- As far as quarterback Drew Brees and most of the Saints first-teamers go, the bulk of their work was on the practice field this week. We will see very little of them in the first preseason game. That's what made Tuesday's practice so compelling. It was the best measurement of the front line guys. And the Saints measured well in most cases.
- With the above observation being made, let me give you six numbers to keep an eye out for Thursday night. I believe that each of these players will get significant reps. Some simply because they are new to this level, but for most it is a very important chance to back up solid showings in practice and continue the pursuit of a roster spot.
No. 13 WR Michael Thomas
No. 18 QB Garrett Grayson
No. 46 DB Ken Crawley
No. 49 DB De'Vante Harris
No. 87 WR Tommylee Lewis
No. 93 DL David Onyematta
There will be plenty of others to observe Thursday night, too. I'm hoping some I haven't mentioned will be names discussed more in the coming weeks. All in all, I'm more excited about watching the Saints in a first preseason game this year than I have been in recent memory.