Standout performers from the Saints shocking season opening loss to Tampa Bay The New Orleans Saints opened their 53rd NFL season with a thud Youth Vonn Bell Jersey , falling at home to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 48-40. The Saints defensive performance was embarrassing, giving up 417 yards passing and 4 scores on just 21 completions to Tampa Bay's backup quarterback, Ryan Fitzpatrick.The Saints front line did not generate any pressure at all, and allowed Fitzpatrick 36 more yards and another touchdown on the ground. The New Orleans secondary was helpless against the Buccaneer receivers, giving up a combined 293 yards and three scores against Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson. The defense didn't fare much better against the run, allowing what was thought to be a pedestrian Tampa rushing game over 100 yards for the game, and keeping the New Orleans defense on their heels with a play action attack. The Saints running game struggled without Pro Bowl back Mark Ingram as well, averaging only 3.6 yards per carry and netting just 48 yards rushing for the game. While it's back to the drawing board for the New Orleans defense for a week two meeting with the Cleveland Browns, there were a few shining stars in yesterday's game. Let's have a look at a couple players for the Saints that did stand out, as they look to rebound from yesterday's disappointing performance. Alvin Kamara Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY SportsKamara was last year's offensive rookie of the year, and looks as if he's only scratched the surface of what he can do. Against a Tampa Bay defense focused on containing him, especially in the absence of Mark Ingram Vonn Bell Jersey Stitched , Kamara had 9 receptions for 112 yards, 29 yards rushing, 3 total touchdowns and a 2-pt. conversion. We didn't get to see much of Kamara's ability as a rusher, with just eight carries on the day, but that could have been a combination of Saints pass-heavy game plan, along with the fact that New Orleans was playing from behind most of the afternoon. With both Mike Gillislee and Jonathan Williams ineffectiveness (four carries, nine yards, and a fumble), we could see Kamara utilized as a runner even more in the upcoming weeks until Ingram's return. Don't expect New Orleans do shy away from his talents as a receiver, however, but instead giving Kamara an even bigger role in the Saints offense. Michael Thomas Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY SportsThomas broke a team record that had stood since 1978 (Tony Galbreath) by catching 16 passes against the Bucs. He also led all receivers with 180 yards and added a touchdown. Thomas did have a crucial drop that hastened the end of one New Orleans third quarter drive, and a critical fumble on the following possession that halted a Saints scoring drive. Make no mistake though Youth Andrus Peat Jersey , Thomas has quickly become one of the finest receivers in the NFL, and his assault on the team's record books appears to have just begun. The combination of Thomas and Kamara seems nearly impossible for any defense to contain, and gives the New Orleans offense perhaps the most dangerous 1-2 punch combination in the league. Drew Brees Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty ImagesBrees was, well Brees. While most of his team did little to support him, the 39-yr. old future Hall of Famer was magnificent, completing 82% of his passes for 439 yards and 3 touchdown passes. He moved his offense despite the absence of a running game (just 43 yards on 13 carries), and an abysmal defensive performance. Brees' performance leaves him now just 1,056 passing yards short of Peyton Manning's all-time yardage record, but the Saints hopes for a successful season will likely be dashed if the team cannot again become balanced around their iconic signal caller. Tom Benson Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty ImagesFor the first time since 1985, the Saints took the field without their owner. Benson, who has been the team's owner since 1985, passed away in March. He was inducted into the team's Ring of Honor on Sunday. His contributions to the franchise Andrus Peat Jersey Stitched , and the city, will never be forgotten. Under his leadership, New Orleans won the first division championship in their history (1987), established themselves as a perennial playoff contender, first playoff win (2000), and of course a Super Bowl championships in 2009. These were just a few among the many achievements that Mr. Benson and his franchise accomplished in over three decades through the Gulf Coast region who looked at their team as part of the family. The culture that Mr. Benson put in place will continue through his wife Gayle, with his name overlooking the franchise he built that embodies an entire region.The Saints cannot afford to overlook the Bengals in Week 10 We’ll continue a series of opponent preview posts for the New Orleans Saints opponents in 2018. We’ll round out the series previewing one of our AFC opponents: the Cincinnati Bengals. Our friends over at Cincy Jungle took some time to give us Saints fans the scoop on the home of elite WR AJ Green.Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty ImagesWeek 10: at the Cincinnati BengalsNotable free agent additions:Not really a free agent, but the Bengals acquired Cordy Glenn in a trade with the Bills and he will be starting at left tackle. In free agency, the Bengals added defensive tackle Chris Baker, who will play a pivotal role on the defensive line and replaces Pat Sims who the team did not re-sign in free agency. The Bengals’ biggest free agent acquisition was 2017 tackle leader and former Bills linerbacker Preston Brown who will help stop the run, which was a major weakness for the Bengals in 2017. And, former Giants offensive lineman Bobby Hart was also added in free agency and will compete for the starting right tackle role.Over/Under:6.5 wins: I’d go with the over as I expect the Bengals to get to eight wins. I’m not overly optimistic about the season as a whole Youth P.J. Williams Jersey , but I don’t think there’s going to be a regression from last year’s seven-win season.Most exciting rookie:I’m excited about too many rookies, but I’d say safety Jessie Bates, the Bengals’ second round pick. He has a decent shot at starting games, not necessarily in Week 1, but as the season goes on. He’s a ballhawk, playmaker and his football IQ is off-the-charts. It’s also funny to say, but I’m super excited about first round pick and former Ohio State center Billy Price. Bengals fans are obsessed with the center position, which has seen Russell Bodine struggle for four years. Now with a first round pick at the position, things should be trending upward.Position battle to keep an eye on:The wide receiver position battle is going to be really fun to watch as there are so many impressive young guys looking to make their mark. There are more good players than thre will be roster spots at the position. Biggest storyline heading into training camp:The offensive line is the biggest story of training camp as last year’s unit was abysmal and now the team has a new offensive line coach in Frank Pollack, formerly of the Cowboys. Both the right guard and right tackle spots are open for taking and the competition is going to be interesting. There’s not tons of talent competing for the jobs, but there are some young guys looking to take big leaps. Under-the-radar storyline heading into training camp:It’s not particularly under the radar, but the Bengals have tons of new coaches who need to whip their units into shape. Marvin Lewis is still head coach (ugh) but there are many new faces among the coaching ranks. Teryl Austin joined the team this offseason as defensive coordinator and he’ll need to build upon a defense that started out 2017 hot P.J. Williams Jersey Stitched , but fizzled out. He has top-tier players at his disposal. How will he use them? Can he help guys like Dre Kirkpatrick to improve? He’ll need to. How Austin transforms the defense and builds upon the things they were already doing well will be key elements to defining the Bengals’ season. If Austin impresses, he has the fast track to becoming Lewis’ successor once he finally steps down or is fired, the former being more likely.Notable injuries heading into training camp:Tyler Eifert鈥?as always. The star tight end claimed he was fully healthy when the Bengals re-signed him in free agency, but then he was limited during spring workouts and Marvin Lewis was PISSED. There’s a definite fear that he will show up to training camp not fully healthy and then there’s always a fear that he’ll be injured during the season鈥?again.***The Saints have a tough stretch with the Falcons, Eagles, Rams, and Vikings within a 5-week period. The Bengals are the lone AFC opponent in that stretch, and could easily be a trap-game for New Orleans.So what says you, you unbiased Saints fans? Can the Saints win an important game on the East Coast? Vote in the poll. Explain in the comments. And make sure you also check out DraftDividends.com, a website for a new book I’m writing currently titled Draft Picks and Dividends: A Fantasy Football Player’s Guide to Understanding the Stock Market.
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