NEW ORLEANS — New Orleans Saints preseason holds a unique place in our hearts; we desperately wait 7 months for it to arrive and then 2 minutes after the game starts we realize just how incredibly lame it is. Joy from Saints exhibition football is only in the waiting. There is a reason I preview just the Saints first preseason game and only recap the rest, no one is excited at all about any other Saints exhibition games, we just want those to hurry up and end so the real games can get here.
Preseason games mean Saints football is back in our lives which delivers joy, even as practice NFL football at real NFL prices has incredibly become even more dreadful to watch as teams play key players so little if you blink you may miss them this August. I don't blame Sean Payton sitting Drew Brees, Michael Thomas, and any other main Saints players and avoiding exposure to injury in games we will all forget happened before they even end. Football is violent and players are going to get hurt so trying to make sure those injuries don't begin until games actually count is just common sense.
So what exactly is worth watching Friday night as the Saints take on the Minnesota Vikings?
In case you haven't noticed the Saints have been shopping at the NFL Dollar Tree store for running backs. They looked at former Detroit Lion Theo Riddick, tried to bring in Alfred Morris for a visit and finally signed former Atlanta Falcon and Tampa Bay Buccaneer Jacquizz Rodgers.
There clearly is an available roster spot for the third running back behind Alvin Kamara and Latavius Murray. We are one 45-yard run from Devine Ozigbo away from being able to read 5 features on Devin next week and how he's THIS close to claiming a roster spot. Hopefully we will forget we ever cared about who the Saints kept as the third running back by October, but if injuries or Murray being a free agent flop happens, we will REALLY care about depth at running back. For me personally, I need a reason to not fall asleep or shop on Amazon during the fourth quarter and this is as good a reason as any. Don't act like all you people will be locked in to Saints-Vikings for 4 quarters. Caring intensely about preseason football if you aren't getting paid by an actual professional football team is unhealthy.
Besides running back, early camp darling Emmanuel Butler needs to regain the momentum he had the first couple days at camp. Butler's injury derailed a hype train that was about to reach gloriously unsafe high speeds. The Butler hype train only needs 1 good 25-yard reception to get rolling again.
Honestly, the most important things about Friday's game is what will I eat to celebrate the return of Saints football into my life and also hoping the NFL Game Pass streaming service works so I can watch.
You might be wondering why I haven't mentioned looking for anything negative? The Saints have won 24 games the last 2 years so anything I see that's not good I'll just ignore because once September comes it will be fine. Intentionally overlooking poor preseason Saints play is one of football fandom's underrated joys. I call it '13-3 Life'. As in, the Saints 13 wins last year gives us the ability to just discount anything we see in exhibition games we don't like.
Offensive line bad? No worries once Drew is getting rid of ball fast. 13-3.
Run defense getting steamrolled? Dennis Allen will game plan that away. 13-3.
Is this the correct attitude to have watching Saints exhibition games? Delusional optimism coming off 13-3 is the best kind of delusional optimism my friends.
Ralph Malbrough is a Saints fan living in Houston. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, find him on Facebook, or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SaintsForecast or download his podcast at Itunes.