The NFL preseason hasn't gone the way that the New Orleans Saints planned. The team is 0-2 so far under new head coach Dennis Allen, leaving the Saints hoping that they can turn things around in their preseason finale against the winless Los Angeles Chargers on Friday at 8 p.m. ET.
The Saints' 53-man roster isn't finalized just yet, leaving room for players to prove themselves tonight. With rookies and veterans alike playing as if their lives depend on it, there's no shortage of storylines ahead of Friday's tilt.
Here are three things to watch in the Saints' preseason finale against the Chargers.
New Orleans Saints Preseason
1. Can the Passing Game Step Up?
The Saints have only scored a total of 23 points this preseason. A big part of that has to do with their passing game being non-existent. While the Saints have racked up 263 yards on the ground thus far, they've only picked up 253 through the air. It doesn't help that sophomore quarterback Ian Book has only averaged 4.7 yards per attempt while also being sacked seven times. Things will likely pick up if Jameis Winston makes an appearance under center, but that isn't a guarantee either of New Orleans' playmakers don't start, well, making plays. Kawaan Baker leads all Saints pass-catchers with 44 receiving yards, further highlighting how improvements must be made.
2. Taco Charlton vs Tanoh Kpassagnon
Taco Charlton and Tanoh Kpassagnon enter the preseason finale fighting for one of the Saints' last defensive end spots. In terms of exhibition stats alone, Charlton has outplayed his counterpart, racking up six tackles and a sack while Kpassagnon has only tackled one opponent. On the other hand, Kpassagnon has the benefit of having played for the Saints in 2021 and has started 28 games over the last three seasons compared to Charlton's six over that span. Both men are deserving of the final DE spot, but it can only go to one, upping the pressure for the duo ahead of Friday's game.
3. Will Tyrann Mathieu Play?
The Saints made some notable moves this offseason, with one of the biggest being the signing of three-time first-team All-Pro safety Tyrann Mathieu. Although fans are more than familiar with what the 30-year-old can do, he's still yet to get any preseason reps in. Playing in a new defensive system can yield an adjustment period, so it'd be wise for the Saints to give him some playing time against the Chargers. That way, fans can get a glimpse of one of their top defenders while also giving Mathieu an opportunity to further create chemistry with his teammates.
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