Observations on the Saints

August, 12, 2011
8/12/11
11:10
PM ET
We know the New Orleans Saints can play offense and there’s no doubt that will happen when the regular season comes along. But the Saints didn’t even need their offense in a 24-3 victory against the San Francisco 49ers in their preseason opener at the Superdome.

The defense and special teams gave the Saints a fast start as Drew Brees and most of the first-team offense didn’t even stay in long enough to get a first down.

New Orleans defensive coordinator Gregg Williams looked like he was prepared for a playoff game, not an exhibition. He blitzed like crazy and the first-team defense was all over San Francisco starting quarterback Alex Smith. Safety Roman Harper spent as much time in the backfield as any of San Francisco’s running backs. Heck, Williams was even calling run blitzes.

The Saints also got a big boost from undrafted rookie Joe Morgan, who returned a punt 78 yards for a touchdown. People thought Darren Sproles would make everyone forget Reggie Bush, but Morgan might be making a case to stay on the roster to handle some returns.

Some other observations on the Saints.
  • Brees left the game with about five minutes left in the first quarter and only completed one of four passes for six yards. Smart move by Sean Payton to get Brees out of there quickly. When you have a quarterback like that, you don’t need to take any chance of getting him hurt in a preseason game.
  • Brees did throw one perfect deep pass, but Robert Meachem dropped it.
  • Backup Chase Daniel took a big hit out of bounds soon after replacing Brees. He got up, holding his side. Made me wonder for a second if the Saints have a phone number for Jake Delhomme? He’s a Louisiana guy and, if he’s going to play again, the Saints would be a tempting option. But Daniel seemed to shake off the hit and completed 13 of 21 passes for 129 yards.
  • The Saints didn’t even need the blitz all the time. With a bit of help from defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis, Will Smith had a nice sack on Smith.
  • Nice debut by rookie running back Mark Ingram. He had a 14-yard touchdown run at the end of the first half that brought back memories of Deuce McAllister.
  • Linebacker Jonathan Casillas hasn’t been getting much work with the first-team defense. But he had a strong outing and that could earn him some work with the starters as camp goes on.
  • Rookie cornerback Johnny Patrick went down near the end of the third quarter with what appeared to be a leg injury. It was unclear how serious the injury is, but the Saints already are thin at cornerback. Tracy Porter and Fabian Washington already have missed camp practices with injuries.

Pat Yasinskas | email

ESPN Tampa Bay Buccaneers reporter

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