When quarterback Drew Brees led the New Orleans Saints down the field on the game's first drive, taking a 7-0 lead over the Arizona Cardinals in the first five minutes, it looked like the game might be a high-scoring affair. However, the teams combined for only 20 more points throughout the rest of the game, and the Saints won the first preseason contest of 2012 by a score of 17-10 on Sunday, August 5.
The Saints' offense looked very good in the opening drive. Although Brees did not connect with Marques Colston, Lance Moore or Jimmy Graham, the team's starting running backs appeared ready to start the season. Darren Sproles and Pierre Thomas combined for 23 rushing yards and 29 receiving yards during the first possession. Mark Ingram added 14 rushing yards and the touchdown. As a Saints fan, I was happy with the way the first-team offense moved quickly down the field.
The Saints' defense also played well most of the game. While Cardinals running back Alfonso Smith had a big day with 46 yards and a score on eight carries, I was very happy with the New Orleans passing defense. Arizona quarterback Kevin Kolb was completely ineffective in four passes before suffering an injury. Replacement John Skelton, who should push Kolb for the starting job, fared better and completed four passes for 32 yards. However, the Saints' defense was fairly solid outside of the Cardinals' one touchdown drive.
As a Saints fan, it seemed to me that the Cardinals would not have been able to keep up with my team's offense, which is a great sign. The Cardinals were 8-8 last year and should have been a good early test for the Saints here in the preseason.
The Saints do still have a lot of work to do. The starting receivers will need to get involved in the next game, and the team needs to find a fourth receiver. With rookie Nick Toon injured, Joseph Morgan had a chance to shine on Sunday night. He caught three passes for 35 yards but also added a couple of drops. Andy Tanner and Courtney Roby each caught four passes in the game.
The most exciting Saints player to watch was running back Travaris Cadet. While the Saints have a crowded backfield with four quality rushers vying for playing time, Cadet definitely proved his talent on Sunday night. Although he failed to gain positive rushing yards on six carries, he did grab eight receptions for 80 yards and a touchdown. Cadet also added 49 return yards on a kick return and a punt return. He had a great night, and it will be interesting to see how the Saints use Cadet in the next game.
New Orleans will now have a few days to prepare for a meeting with the New England Patriots on Thursday, August 9.
Mike Patton is a sports fan who grew up in New Orleans cheering for the New Orleans Saints, Chicago Cubs, and LSU Tigers. As a kid in 1987, he made his first trip to Wrigley Field and also slept outside of the Louisiana Superdome to purchase playoff tickets for the Saints' first postseason appearance. Follow Mike on twitter @MikePattonGBS.