Yes, the preseason opener between Kansas City and New Orleans offered a tiny introduction as to what we can expect from both teams. Andy Reid left his starters in for one drive, happy enough with a 14-play opening drive that culminated with a touchdown. That meant the backups got a significant workout, much like their Saints counterparts, giving us plenty to talk about.
Chiefs – Three Performances of Note
Agro for Agnew
After bringing in Dunta Robinson and Sean Smith, the Chiefs are revamping an area of weakness. They’ll also be hoping for some of their depth to step up, and some offered an indication of a promising future. One in particular did not.
It was a rough day for Vince Agnew (-4.5) who was relentlessly worked over by the Saints, particularly at the start of the second half. It was only preseason, yet the 2011 undrafted free agent managed to allow 11-of-14 balls into his coverage for 168 yards and two touchdowns (while also being flagged for a penalty). To say he hurt his chances of making the roster would be an understatement.
Meanwhile, when he left the game in came Greg Castillo (+2.5) at left cornerback and the rookie made a far more convincing case. Targeted three times, he came up quickly to shut down a play for a 4-yard gain and walked away with a pass defense. It wouldn’t be a massive surprise to see him improve on the 29 snaps he got, while Agnew may see a reduction in his 50.
Never Dull with Kniles
Chiefs fans may feel like they’re about to go on a rollercoaster every time Knile Davis (-1.5) has a ball coming his way. He impressed on special teams with a 78-yard return showing some nifty footwork with some sharp cuts, but dropped a pass and very nearly put another on the ground. Sure handed he was not. His rushing meanwhile indicated he’s going to need some big holes to make things happen, turning five carries into just 7 yards and breaking no tackles in the process. The tools may be there but they don’t appear to be fully working yet.
Depth at Safety?
With Eric Berry and Kendrick Lewis locked in as starters, there’s a fight on for rosters spots at safety. Tysyn Hartman (+2.4) made a name for himself as undrafted free agent last year ensuring that he would earn 243 snaps on defense. Well with a new coaching staff in town he’s had to start all over again and made a convincing case with an interception and good work in the run game that saw him pick up two tackles there.
Trying to follow in his footsteps, Bradley McDougald (+1.9) flashed an intriguing skillset, including going toe to toe with Jimmy Graham and breaking up a pass when the big tight end looked to have shielded him away from the ball. Having the ability to do that will get him noticed. Veterans like Quintin Demps and Husain Abdullah might have to work a little bit harder to make the final 53.
Saints – Three Performances of Note
The Left Tackle Battle
With Jermon Bushrod in Chicago there’s a competition going on to protect the blindside of Drew Brees. The job looks like it belong to Charles Brown (+1.0) and there was nothing in his 20 snaps to suggest any different. In 13 pass blocks he gave up no pressure, though he only had to deal with Tamba Hali for two pass rushes.
The next man up was Terron Armstead (+1.9) who had some issues against the run (he nearly gave up a tackle for a loss but for a missed tackle from Edgar Jones) but was solid in pass protection. Again, it’s against backups who are largely backups for reason but it’s still impressive that he surrendered no pressure. The third man in was Jason Smith (+0.9) who didn’t embarrass himself. But it has to be alarming that the former second overall pick of the 2009 draft was playing with the third stringers.
Tyrunn takes his Chance
You can only beat what is in front of you and Tyrunn Walker (+3.7) certainly did that. It was a noteworthy display by the 2012 undrafted free agent, with the Saints not looking like a team full of interior pass rush. He picked up four hurries, chased down a screen pass for a tackle for no gain, and added two defensive stops in the run game. I’ll be looking to see how he performs in the games going forward, but he could have pushed himself up the depth chart and closer to a spot on the roster.
Bringing out the Best (and worst)
The Saints’ switch to a 3-4 defense promises to take advantage of some of their talent. Most noticeably Cameron Jordan (+2.9), the 2011 first-round pick who always seemed a little wasted at defensive left end. It’s not that he played badly, quite the opposite. He was fantastic against the run and led all 4-3 defensive ends with 32 defensive stops in the game. But he struggled to get pressure off the edge and was already looking more comfortable with the change in his position. He only had 20 snaps but walked away with a QB hit and two defensive stops.
On the opposite end of the spectrum is Will Smith (-1.3). He’ll spend a lot of time with his hand in the dirt, but three snaps in coverage for the big man is probably three too many. He’s got a lot of history with the Saints and it remains to be seen what kind of role he’ll have in terms of snaps once Junior Gallette is healthy and the regular season roles around, but his 20 snaps here were not promising.
- First round pick Eric Fisher (-0.3) got 14 snaps at right tackle. He surrendered a pressure to Akiem Hicks who looked too powerful for him and lost leverage on Cameron Jordan on an early rush attempt. Of course, he’s playing with a bad hand and that might explain some of his issues.
- The Saints only missed six tackles, while the Chiefs were up at 11. Fundamentals guys.
- The 5.6 yards per snap in coverage allowed by Agnew is the most of any defensive back we’ve looked at so far.
PFF Game Ball
For his all-around game as mentioned earlier, Tyrunn Walker earns the nod.
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