Saints Questions: Will the extra preseason game help?

Saints Questions: Will the extra preseason game help?

New Orleans Saints running back Pierre Thomas (23) is tackled by Houston Texans linebacker Mario Williams (90) in the first quarter of a preseason NFL football game Saturday, Aug. 20, 2011, in Houston.

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Posted on July 20, 2012 at 1:16 PM

Updated Friday, Jul 20 at 2:20 PM

As summer seems to get hotter and hotter and we get down to only baseball on TV, there’s only one thing to do to keep our interest – answer questions and give our thoughts about the Saints heading into training camp.

We’ll run out one question a day in a hope that we satiate your thirst until actual toe meets leather. The questions are in no particular order of importance…except for No. 1.

7. Will the extra preseason game help?
The Saints didn’t know it at the time, but when they asked their way into this year’s preseason Hall of Fame game, they might have done themselves a favor.

Little did they know at the time but the NFL would soon release its findings for an alleged bounty scandal soon after the Hall of Fame game announcement. Not too long after that, the suspensions were announced.

And that’s not even mentioning the offseason-long contract negotiations with Drew Brees.

In other words, this was the perfect year to pick up an extra preseason game.

We wouldn’t have said that in the past.

In fact, playing the fifth preseason game hasn’t been helpful for the Saints since the NFL went to four exhibition games in 1978.

New Orleans has played in the Hall of Fame game three times since then, losing to Pittsburgh in 1983, Indianapolis in 1996 and Pittsburgh in 2007. In those seasons, the Saints ended up going 8-8, 3-13 and 7-9, respectively.

Of the 22 teams that have participated in the Hall of Fame game since 2000, half have finished the season at .500 or better and only 10 have made the playoffs. And the participants in the past two games have all watched the postseason from the homes.

But this year is like no other.

The extra couple of days of practice and an extra game should help this season.

New Orleans will have that extra time to work with Joe Vitt as acting head coach. It’ll have that extra time to get used to Steve Spagnuolo as the new defensive coordinator. And it will give Brees time to get back into rhythm after missing out on the entire offseason while negotiating a new contract.

That can’t be underestimated this year. Add to it that under the new collective bargaining agreement, there will be fewer padded practices and less hitting during preseason practices, which will save the players’ bodies.

So, yes, having the extra preseason game might, for once, be a good thing.

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