Without a long list of players to field in the game, including both starting cornerbacks, star TE Jimmy Graham and others, the Saints and Patriots meet in Foxboro for the Patriots' preseason opener.
For the second week, 2011 third round pick Johnny Patrick, 2012 fifth round pick Corey White and free agent addition Marquis Johnson are expected to get the most snaps at cornerback. Starters Greer (sports hernia surgery) and Robinson (shoulder) are out, but expected to be okay for the regular season opener in one month. Patrick has been leading the fight for the nickel cornerback job and will start tonight.
Graham went up high and came down hard to make a spectacular catch during the Saints and Patriots' joint practices yesterday, and was in serious pain, having apparently aggravated a historically sensitive lower back. It would be surprising to see him on the field, though he remained at practice after walking off the pain yesterday.
Wide receivers Adrian Arrington (knee), Nick Toon (foot), and Devery Henderson (ankle) probably won't play tonight because of injury as well, meaning that Joe Morgan should get significant playing time. Morgan, a 2011 preseason star but a 2012 inconsistent puzzler, is thick in the fight for the #4 receiver job, though Arrington has the lead. A knee meniscus injury getting multiple medical opinions is a big concern for Arrington, who may be on his last chance to make the Saints' roster.
Should Arrington continue to have problems with his knee, the door is open for Morgan, Toon and Andy Tanner. Last week's game was a bit of a breakout for Tanner, who should also get a big opportunity tonight to make a dark horse push for roster spot. Henderson was able to go lightly in practice this week, but there is no need to rush the veteran speedster onto the field. Veteran Courtney Roby is an excellent special teams gunner but also flashed signs that he could contribute to the offense as well against Arizona.
Look for Drew Brees to play one long or two-to-three shorter drives and to turn things over to Chase Daniel. Sean Canfield, who played poorly against Arizona, or Luke McCown should see the field in the second half.
UPDATE: Also out tonight is expected to include: DT Tom Johnson, LB David Hawthorne (hip flexor), RB Mark Ingram, T Andrew Tiller, LB Ramon Humber.
Interestingly, both Garrett Hartley and John Kasay are listed as the #1 placekicker on the Saints' published depth chart.