The second week of the preseason continues with games on Sunday, including one featuring the New Orleans Saints at the Los Angeles Chargers. Teams will be looking to see which players improve on their Week 1 performances and which players really grab hold of important roles. The PFF analysis team has all of the important battles and players to watch in this game:
Coverage by: Brett Whitefield
Position Battle: Ryan Ramczyk/Khalif Barnes, LT
- Last week verse the Browns Khalif Barnes got the start at left tackle and played 49 of the team’s offensive snaps there. He didn’t perform particularly well earning an overall grade of just 42.5 which ranked 92nd among qualifying tackles. Ryan Ramczyk was out with an injury.
- Barnes was not effective in the run game earning a run-block grade of just 34.2. He also gave up two pressures on 25 pass block snaps, one of them being a sack.
Position Battle: P.J. Williams/Ken Crawley/Sterling Moore, CB
- With starter Delvin Breaux out with a broken fibula and first round rookie Marshon Lattimore still dealing with hamstring issues the Saints seemingly have an open competition at outside corner. Williams (42 snaps) and Crawley (41 snaps) got the start verse the Browns but Sterling Moore (34) got significant reps also,
- Williams played very well earning the fifth highest cornerback grade of the week at 84.2 overall while leading the team in stops with five. Both Crawley (37.2) and Moore (40.2) struggled.
Player to Watch:
Tommylee Lewis, WR – Lewis earned the highest game grade of any wide receiver last week at 89.8 overall. Quarterbacks had a passer rating of 143.9 when targeting him (11 targets) which was the sixth highest mark of the week. Lewis did some damage from the slot catching six of seven targets earning the second highest yards per route run from at 2.15.
Coverage by: Andrew Fleischer
Position Battle: Korey Toomer/Nick Dzubnar, MLB
- Korey Toomer finished the 2016 season with an 81.3 overall PFF grade. Toomer had 25 stops as a run defender in 177 run snaps in 2016, and his 14.1 stop percentage was first among inside linebackers with at least 124 snaps against the run. Toomer struggled a bit to a 56.2 overall PFF grade in preseason week 1 against Seattle, but he did finish with 2 run stops on 20 run snaps. His run stop percentage of 10.0 was 18th out of 49 inside linebackers to play at least 11 run snaps in the first full week of preseason games.
- Nick Dzubnar’s 2016 graded out to 39.4 overall PFF grade, but on only 45 snaps. He was used heavily in the four 2016 preseason games, where his 9.0 run stop percentage was 52nd among 119 linebackers with at least 20 run snaps. In last week’s preseason game against the Seahawks, Dzubnar graded out to a 62.3 overall PFF grade, and his coverage grade of 79.4 was 14th among 154 linebackers with at least 14 total snaps.
Players to Watch:
- Branden Oliver, RB – Brandon Oliver played only 10 snaps in last week’s preseason game, his first action since missing 2016 with a torn achilles tendon. His 66.5 overall PFF game grade was below average, but his 73.6 receiving grade was 10th among 119 RBs with at least 9 snaps. Oliver finished the 2015 season with a 74.9 overall grade. His 79.6 receiving grade in 2015 was the 15th highest among 119 running backs with at least 50 snaps.
- Chris McCain, ED – Third year edge defender Chris McCain was on the Chargers’ practice squad last year, but could push for a roster spot with his camp performance in 2017. His 85.7 overall grade in last week’s preseason game was the 14th highest of 115 edge defenders with at least 18 snaps, and his 88.8 pass rush grade was tied for the third highest grade among the same group.
- Isaac Rochell, ED – 2017 seventh round rookie Isaac Rochell also showed pass-rushing prowess in the Chargers’ preseason week one game. His 80.7 overall grade was 37th best among 115 eligible edge defenders, and his 73.3 run defense grade was 38th best among eligible edge defenders.