2018 ScheduleAll times ET

2018 Schedule

Mike Triplett ESPN Staff Writer 

Drew Brees counts Nolan Ryan among his influences. He said he was a big fan of Ryan's while growing up in Texas – and loved both him and Ted Williams when he and his brother would watch the video “Golden Greats of Baseball” on the VCR. Then he later talked to Ryan about his approach as he extended his career to the age of 46. Brees has spent years working with throwing coach Tom House, who was one of Ryan's pitching coaches with the Texas Rangers. “He didn't stop pitching because he couldn't still throw strikes and get people out. He stopped pitching because it became more and more difficult to turn around every five days and pitch like those guys are required to do in a starting rotation,” Brees said. “So you look at his career and the way he trained and the things that he did to prepare himself to play with the longevity he played with and the level he was able to play at. And I think there's just a lot of things about his psyche and his mentality and his toughness, both physical and mental, that are to be admired.”

Mike Triplett ESPN Staff Writer 

The Saints now have two Marcus Williamses in their secondary. They signed veteran cornerback Marcus Williams to join their second-year safety of the same name. The new Williams is a fifth-year veteran who spent the past four years with the Jets and Texans, with 14 career starts and 10 career interceptions. They also signed veteran safety Robert Nelson and released undrafted rookie guard Trevor Darling.

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Mike Triplett ESPN Staff Writer 

We've seen some nice runs from Saints RB Jonathan Williams in recent days, including the preseason opener, which he talks about here. But Drew Brees was even more complimentary of his pass-protection ability (which Sean Payton also praised). That could give Williams an edge in the Saints' crowded competition at backup RB.

Mike Triplett ESPN Staff Writer 

The Saints released third-year cornerback De'Vante Harris, who appeared in 21 games over the past two years as a backup and special teamer. Harris, who was undrafted out of Texas A&M flashed potential every summer but battled inconsistency. Two penalties in Thursday's preseason opener didn't help his roster case.

Mike Triplett ESPN Staff Writer 

Third-year RB Jonathan Williams has been flashing for the Saints over the past three days (including his 13-yard run and 4-yard TD run in Thursday's preseason opener). Up until Thursday's game, I probably would have ranked Williams' odds of making New Orleans' roster behind those of rookie Boston Scott and veterans Terrance West and Shane Vereen. However, that battle for the backup RB job during Mark Ingram's four-game suspension to start the season is about as hard to handicap as any position battle on the roster right now.

Mike Triplett ESPN Staff Writer 

Saints WR Michael Thomas was the dominant figure in Saturday's practice, with a heavy dose of catches in full-team drills. The third-year Pro Bowler has been terrific throughout camp. And even though he set the NFL record for most catches in the first two seasons of a career (196), there is a sense that he can keep raising the bar in Year 3.

Mike Triplett ESPN Staff Writer 

Saints safety Marcus Williams said it meant a lot to him to hear that Drew Brees compared him to Ed Reed — as does getting to compete against Brees and learn from him every day in practice.

Mike Triplett ESPN Staff Writer 

Saints QB Taysom Hill's legs are an obvious weapon for him, as he showed in Friday's preseason opener — both on scrambles and designed runs. In practices when he's not being sacked, he said he takes the opportunity to go through more of his reads and try to find receivers downfield on scramble drills. But taking off running when the opportunity is there in a live game, "that's just playing football." Obviously Hill will continue to develop as a passer, but his dual-threat ability could give him a shot to win Drew Brees' backup job.

Mike Triplett ESPN Staff Writer 

The backup QBs took center stage in New Orleans' preseason opener while Drew Brees took the night off – but the competition remains wide open after a 24-20 win over the Jaguars. Veteran newcomer Tom Savage was just OK as he started and completed a conservative 10 of 14 passes for 70 yards with no TDs and no INTs. Second-year pro Taysom Hill was more dynamic, completing 8 of 9 passes for 72 yards and running seven times for 52 yards and a TD. But he started a little shaky and may have relied on his legs a little too much.

Mike Triplett ESPN Staff Writer 

Aside from the QBs, RBs, Mitchell Loewen and Brandon Tate, some other standout performances for the Saints in Thursday's 24-20 come-from-behind win over the Jaguars: Fifth-year veteran LB/DE Jayrone Elliott had 2.5 sacks and two forced fumbles – the kind of performance that “bubble players” like him need to make in the preseason. Second-year DL Devaroe Lawrence had two sacks and three QB hits. Rookie WR Tre'Quan Smith continued his impressive summer with four catches for 48 yards. Two other negatives: Third-year safety Vonn Bell missed a tackle near the goal line on a Jags TD, and rookie QB J.T. Barrett didn't see wide-open RB Boston Scott in the end zone before taking a sack.

Mike Triplett ESPN Staff Writer 

Does the fourth quarter of the first preseason game matter? It does to the Saints' backup RB candidates. Rookie Boston Scott got the Saints down to the 1-yard line with a nifty 7-yard run. And third-year pro Jonathan Williams had a couple nice runs, including a 4-yard TD run (though he appeared to commit a holding penalty earlier on a kickoff return). Veteran Terrance West played earlier in the game but didn't stand out too much with five carries for 10 yards. … In other words, the competition is still wide open.

Mike Triplett ESPN Staff Writer 

Taysom Hill was arguably the Saints' most impressive backup QB candidate in Thursday's preseason opener, going 8-of-9 for 72 yards in the second half and running the ball seven times for 52 yards (including a 3-yard TD run). The second-year pro started a little shaky, nearly throwing an interception and taking a couple sacks. And the Saints would probably like to see him stay in the pocket a little more often. But if they believe Hill can move the chains one way or the other, he has a chance to beat out veteran Tom Savage for the No. 2 job behind Drew Brees.

Mike Triplett ESPN Staff Writer 

If anyone might be going from "pencil" to "pen" on the Saints' 53-man roster projection in the first preseason game, the two leading candidates are WR/KR Brandon Tate and DL Mitchell Loewen. Tate, who was just signed last week and quickly emerged as the front-runner for the kickoff job, returned the Saints' first kickoff 36 yards. Loewen, who earned a roster spot last year before going on injured reserve with an ankle injury in Week 3, has five tackles, two tackles for loss and a QB hit in the first 40 minutes.

Mike Triplett ESPN Staff Writer 

Drew Brees sat out the preseason opener, and veteran newcomer Tom Savage was just OK as his replacement in his first audition for the backup role. Savage completed 10 of 14 passes for just 70 yards with zero touchdowns and zero interceptions. He led the Saints to 10 points in his three drives, but he missed RB Alvin Kamara in open space twice and threw a couple of other balls slightly behind receivers. Savage has been the Saints' most consistent backup QB in camp so far. But second-year pro Taysom Hill can potentially pass him up if he flashes his big-play potential as a thrower and runner in the exhibition games.

Mike Triplett ESPN Staff Writer 

The Saints are honoring late owner Tom Benson with decals on their jerseys and helmets this year. The umbrella — an ode to his famous "Benson Boogie" celebration — is an especially nice touch. (Photo courtesy of the Saints)

Mike Triplett ESPN Staff Writer 

Saints receiver Ted Ginn Jr. scored two TDs in full-team drills Monday, including one deep ball. We don't talk about him as much as the new Saints receivers, but he's having a good camp after a good debut season in New Orleans. Ginn finished 34th among WRs in PPR fantasy scoring last year – and that was before he caught 12 passes for 187 yards and a TD in two playoff games. He still projects as New Orleans' No. 2 receiver, though Cameron Meredith and rookie Tre'Quan Smith could provide competition. … In other words, don't rush out to draft him, but don't get too sleepy on him either.

Mike Triplett ESPN Staff Writer 

New Saints linebacker Demario Davis made one of his most impressive plays of camp Monday, keeping up with Alvin Kamara to break up a pass near the goal line. The Saints have been doing a ton of mixing and matching at LB throughout camp, with Davis a candidate to play both Will and Mike (where he has spent most of his career). That would be huge for the Saints if Davis shows he can be an asset in pass coverage against the Kamaras of the world (though there aren't many of those).

Mike Triplett ESPN Staff Writer 

Another day, another interception by Saints safety Marcus Williams against Drew Brees in full-team drills. That's three days in a row now for Williams, who has arguably been the team's biggest standout in camp. The big story line surrounding the second-year pro is how he will bounce back from his missed tackle in the "Minnesota Miracle." So far, he's doing it emphatically.

Mike Triplett ESPN Staff Writer 

Nothing too revealing or surprising on the Saints' first unofficial depth chart, but a few notables: Sheldon Rankins and David Onyemata are listed as co-starters at DT after they've been splitting reps evenly in practice. Manti Te'o is listed as the starting MLB, with Demario Davis the starter and Alex Anzalone the backup at WLB. Shane Vereen is listed as the top backup RB and Tom Savage as the backup QB. Those competitions remain wide open, however, heading into Thursday's preseason opener at Jacksonville.

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