Saints Fall To Ravens In Preseason Finale, Roster Cuts Loom
The New Orleans Saints ended their preseason with a loss Thursday night, falling to the Baltimore Ravens 23-12.
With the defeat, the Saints finish the preseason 3-1.
Baltimore's offense moved the ball seemingly at will, finishing with a 42:39 time of possession advantage over the Saints (17:21).
“We struggled stopping the run and struggled to run the ball," said Saints coach Sean Payton.
The fourth preseason game is typically reserved for backups and bubble players fighting to make the 53 man roster.
“This game matters for somebody every year,” explained Payton on bubble players. “We got a lot of players reps tonight, and that’s pleasing.”
Rookie safety Pierre Warren reeled in an interception, while veteran defensive tackle Tyrunn Walker batted down 3 passes. Rookie linebacker Todd Davis led the team in tackles with 10.
Walker, who has been a backup the last two seasons, appears to be a safe bet to make the 53 man roster, while Warren is on the bubble. If he doesn't make it, New Orleans will hope he clears waivers so they can sign him to the practice squad. Davis is a practice squad candidate as well.
Despite giving up 436 total yards to the Ravens, the Saints defense only allowed one touchdown.
Offensively is was tough sledding for New Orleans, but every player made the most of their snaps.
Quarterbacks Luke McCown and Ryan Griffin are battling for the primary backup role to Drew Brees.
McCown got the start, leading New Orleans to their only touchdown of the game when he hooked up with running back Travaris Cadet for a 3 yard touchdown pass.
“I felt he did well moving the guys," said Payton of McCown.
Griffin took snaps the rest of the way, finishing 11-21 for 126 yards.
“I like the fact that both of those guys have really competed," noted Payton on the backup quarterback battle. "I like that both of them have done some good things.”
New Orleans first round rookie draft pick Brandin Cooks played into the second half. After missing last week's game with a stomach virus, Cooks struck the stat sheet with 3 catches for 30 yards.
“I learned a whole lot throughout training camp and preseason," said Cooks. "Week 1 against Atlanta, I should have a good feel of where Drew wants me and where I need to play….I’m just happy to help my team win, however that might be.”
Cooks is expected to be a big part of New Orleans dangerous offense.
"This offense can be fantastic, but we don’t like to talk about it," said Cooks. "We just want to go out there and play.”
Another training camp battle has been a kicker. Veteran Shayne Graham is feeling pressure from Derek Dimke. Dimke was 2 for 2 on field goals Thursday night, including a 49 yarder to end the first half.
Dimke missed a 54 yard attempt, pushing it right. However, the Ravens were penalized for running into the kicker. With the mulligan, Dimke sank the 49 yarder.
Perhaps the most positive aspect of Thursday's game was penalties. New Orleans was only charged 1 penalty for 5 yards.
The Saints roster currently stands at 75 players. It must be trimmed down to 53 by 3:00 on Saturday.