Although the New Orleans Saints haven't made any official announcements yet about who will and won't play in tonight's preseason opener at the St. Louis Rams, it's a safe bet that quarterback Drew Brees will be one of many veterans held out because of injury or precaution.
Brees didn't practice all week after straining an oblique last Friday, so the chances of him being thrown into a preseason opener are about as slim as it gets.
Others likely to miss the game after being held out or limited in practice this past week: guards Jahri Evans and Ben Grubbs, receiver Kenny Stills, safety Jairus Byrd, cornerbacks Champ Bailey and Terrence Frederick, linebacker Victor Butler, defensive tackle John Jenkins, fullback Erik Lorig, tight end Je'Ron Hamm and offensive tackle Ty Nsekhe.
Throw in the fact that many veteran starters rarely make it past the first quarter in the first preseason game every year, and this seems like a good time to post a depth-chart refresher.
The Saints released their first unofficial depth chart this week. Keep in mind, such depth charts usually favor returning veterans and experienced players ahead of newcomers, so this is more about the current status of players while they're still installing the playbook than it is a prediction of where everyone will line up in Week 1 of the regular season.
* = player not expected to play tonight, based on lack of practice time this week
() = newly-signed players not yet included on Saints' unofficial depth chart
FB -- *Erik Lorig, Austin Johnson, (Greg Bell)
Thoughts: The only mild surprise here is seeing Thomas listed as the third-string running back. But that could be because the Saints envision using Ingram and Robinson in more base packages and more "starting" formations, while Thomas plays a lot of third-down/nickel offense. I still expect Thomas to rack up as many yards from scrimmage as any other Saints back in that runner/receiver role.
Thoughts: The Saints have moved some linebackers around from their original plans. Rookie Fortt is now listed as an outside linebacker, and Knox was moved inside. Obviously, though, they both have the versatility to play multiple backup roles (as well as special teams) if they crack the roster. … It's not a huge surprise to see Dawson ahead of Butler since Dawson played so well last season and has looked great in camp. But it's worth noting that Butler needs to prove he can stay healthy and productive to earn his place on the roster this season. … Seeing Robinson ahead of Bailey at cornerback is interesting. It could be based on experience with the team or current health status. But it's a reminder that the job is up for grabs.
P -- Thomas Morstead
LS -- Justin Drescher
H -- Luke McCown
PR -- Travaris Cadet, Brandin Cooks, Charles Hawkins
KR -- Travaris Cadet, Brandon Cooks, Charles Hawkins