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TheOak 08-29-2013 09:57 PM

Highs and lows from New Orleans Saints sloppy preseason finish: Mike Triplett's Four-point stance
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Miami Gardens, Fla. - The New Orleans Saints' fourth preseason game lived up to the reputation of a fourth preseason games. Their 24-21 loss to the Miami Dolphins was sloppy, filled with penalties and mistakes on both sides of the ball. Luckily most of the starters weren't playing, so most of the damage shouldn't matter much when the Saints take the field for real Sept. 8 against the Atlanta Falcons in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

I'll have a more extensive column coming later on one thing that I believe could carry over to the regular season -- outside linebacker Jay Richardson's strong finish to a strong preseason at a position where they badly needed a guy like him to emerge this summer.

Here are four more takeaways from Thursday's action (both on and off the field):


Two players that had a strong chance of making the Saints' 53-man roster -- running back Khiry Robinson and cornerback Corey White -- may have hurt their chances in the final quarter of the preseason.

Robinson, who has shown an impressive mix of speed and power this summer, fumbled the ball twice in the fourth quarter. That's an awful last impression to leave hanging out there, especially since one of his advantages over fellow running back Travaris Cadet was Cadet's two fumbles in the second preseason game.

Cadet wasn't on the field Thursday (no immediate explanation was given). But it's possible that both guys could be in danger instead of it being a head-to-head battle.

Meanwhile, White got burned for a 56-yard touchdown receiver by Marvin McNutt late in the fourth quarter (preventing the Saints from a 4-0 preseason record, not that it really matters). White also got burned for a deep pass earlier in the game -- though he did also have a nice tipped ball that led to safety Jerico Nelson's interception.

White has been up-and-down like that at times throughout the summer. The Saints are high on his potential. But he didn't have a stranglehold on a roster spot ahead of other hopefuls like veteran Chris Carr and rookies Rod Sweeting and Korey Lindsey, among others.

That position will be one of the most fascinating to monitor as the Saints cut down their roster Friday and Saturday. Right now they don't have many proven options they can trust behind starters Jabari Greer and Keenan Lewis. Even veteran Patrick Robinson continued to show rust Thursday night, getting burned, then reaching and grabbing to draw a pass interference flag.


It's hard to imagine that any players earned their way onto the Saints' 53-man roster on Thursday night. Rookie defensive tackle John Jenkins had a good night, but he's a roster lock. Interceptions by Lindsey and Nelson might have helped boost their chances, though it might not have been enough for them. Mostly we saw uneven performances from guys considered "on the bubble."

- Undrafted rookie offensive lineman Tim Lelito got an extended audition himself, starting at center with veteran backup center/guard Eric Olsen out of the lineup (also no immediate explanation for his absence). And Lelito had at least two standout moments - a touchdown recovery of Robinson's first fumble and a nice lead block on Mark Ingram's 8-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. But Lelito and quarterback Ryan Griffin also fumbled the exchange on two snaps. It was hard to tell if either one player was to blame on them, but it wasn't good news for Lelito, since his biggest impediment to the 53-man roster is proving he can be the Saints' backup center (a position he hasn't played much this summer). Still, the fact that Lelito was in there in the first place was a good sign of how the Saints feel about him.

- Griffin, meanwhile, was just so-so in his most extensive audition to date. He completed 15 of 31 passes for 198 yards and one touchdown (to fullback Austin Johnson)/ But he also threw an interception late on a mistimed route near the end zone with a chance to win the game. I don't think Griffin's performance necessarily hurt his chances of making the 53-man roster. But he certainly didn't give the kind of performance that forced the Saints to keep him if they weren't planning to already.

- Same goes for receivers Andy Tanner and Preston Parker, among others who didn't do anything spectacular.


The Saints' star of the night was receiver Nick Toon - until he left with an undisclosed injury (no immediate update was available). Toon caught three balls for 31 yards, showing a mix of physicality, speed, elusiveness and great hands. And his best catch of the night didn't count - a diving grab for a deep ball from Griffin that was nullified by a blocking penalty against left tackle Terron Armstead. Toon went to the locker room with the training staff soon after that play, though it wasn't immediately clear what was injured or how badly.

What a shame it would be for Toon and the Saints if he suffered a significant injury again after spending all of his rookie season on injured reserve. Although he is probably slated for a fourth receiver role, he definitely looks ready to start contributing to the offense this year.

I've really liked everything I've seen from Toon this preseason. I know he was one of the young guys coach Sean Payton harped on early in camp for making sure they know assignments, alignments, etc. But they've spoken highly of his development since, and he's continued to look great on the field.


Whether or not the NFL "won" the battle against ex-players by settling their concussion lawsuit for $765 million Thursday, it's obviously a huge relief for league to have lawsuits settled rather than dragging out in courtroom. As Saints fans know, the league had become hyper-sensitive to its risk of liability in the area of player safety, which helped shape the severe reaction to the Saints' bounty scandal. Ultimately, though, it's hard to say that the league's handling of the Saints' bounty investigation factored into the concussion lawsuit much since it never got in front of a jury.

I'm not enough of a legal expert to say whether I think the NFL or the retired players got a good or bad deal. Obviously the league avoided the potential doomsday scenario of being bankrupted by a jury verdict down the road. But some legal analysts I respect, including Tulane's Gabe Feldman, stressed that the players faced many "legal hurdles" to ultimately win a huge payday in the case. So there was a benefit for them to receive settlement payments immediately rather than letting it drag out for years.

Ideally, though, just because the lawsuit has been settled, that doesn't mean the league and the players can now just put this issue "behind them." All of the advancements in concussion awareness and research and increased player safety measures should and will continue.

Highs, lows from New Orleans Saints' sloppy preseason finish: Mike Triplett's Four-point stance |

QBREES9 08-29-2013 11:37 PM

Re: Highs and lows from New Orleans Saints sloppy preseason finish: Mike Triplett's Four-point stance
Cornerback Corey White, on the bubble.

Rugby Saint II 08-30-2013 12:41 PM

Re: Highs and lows from New Orleans Saints sloppy preseason finish: Mike Triplett's Four-point stance
How many times did Corey White intercept Drew?

homerj07 08-30-2013 05:22 PM

Re: Highs and lows from New Orleans Saints sloppy preseason finish: Mike Triplett's Four-point stance
Lots of people on the bubble who did themselves no good whatsoever

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