The New Orleans Saints will be kicking off the pre-season against the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday August 13, 2015, commencing the first of four pre-season games before the regular season opens. Kickoff starts at 7:30pm at the M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland. Baltimore has a 2-0 advantage in the pre-season series and marks the first time the Saints will play at the Ravens in the preseason.
The Saints opened training camp at Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia on July 29. After a steady two-week training camp grind that involved pitting teammates solely off against one another, the players are now ready to go full throttle against their NFL opponents.
The line on tonight’s game favours Baltimore by 3. This will be the second consecutive year that the Saints will face the Ravens in the preseason, having hosted them last year at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in their 22-13 loss on August 28. They lost a second time to Baltimore last year during the regular season on November 24 with a final score of 34-27.
While tonight’s game affords fans a chance to finally see their players dressed in uniform again after a long off-season, the central objective is not necessarily to win. While that would be nice, the result of the game is immaterial and very little time will be designated to evaluating the opponent. The match-up will provide players a chance to showcase their talents and impress the coaches by making big plays and delivering big hits.
After finishing 7-9 last year, the Saints will be looking for a fresh start to their 2015 season starting tonight. Expect to see mostly marginal and back-up players, with starters only playing in a series or two this game. Coach Payton and his staff will be preparing the team for the upcoming season and closely evaluating the key positions. Their goal is to determine whether the players can exude the level of confidence required in regular season play and how they will cope mentally in a real game. Tonight the coaching staff will begin to determine who will make the back end of the depth chart this year and fill the remaining spots on the 53-man roster. Replay of the tape after the game will not include analysis of stats, but an evaluation of the players – especially the younger ones and how they handle the tasks assigned to them.
There will be weighty assessment of ‘on-the-bubble’ players including kickers Zach Hocker and Dustin Hopkins who both performed well during camp. Hopkins hasn’t missed a kick and both have made 59-yard field goals. Payton will also be closely watching rookies Garrett Grayson, Hau’oli Kikaha, Stephone Anthony, Andrus Peat, Bobby Richardson and Marcus Murphy.
New Orleans should receive quality play from their starting offense and their defense, with new players looking to establish their merit.