For the third consecutive year, the New Orleans Saints will travel across the country to face the Los Angeles Chargers in a preseason game at Dignity Health Sports Complex in Carson, California, previously called the StubHub Center (Sunday, 3 p.m., CBS).
And for the third consecutive year, the teams will share practice fields at Jack Hammett Sports Complex in Costa Mesa, CA., for joint training camp workouts Thursday and Friday.
At this stage of training camp, familiarity typically breeds contempt among teammates, so coaches Sean Payton of New Orleans and Anthony Lynn of Los Angeles gladly welcome the opportunity to spice up their practice regimens.
“I feel like our last two times we’ve been with them have been real productive,” Payton said. “You’re working against a playoff team, one of the better teams in our league.
“You might receive more reps at something that you might not receive in the game. You can essentially script out what you want to see and then who you want to see do it for your own team. And sometimes it’s a little bit more difficult in the course of a game.”
Using the past two summers as a barometer, Payton and Lynn share a no-nonsense, business-like approach to the joint workouts and fighting will not be tolerated, though I suspect there will be a scuffle or two when all is said and done.
I also suspect Saints quarterback Drew Brees will see his most extensive work of training camp against an opponent during the two practice sessions. The Chargers defense will be able to look but not touch Brees during “live” 7-on-7 and team drills.
Same goes for the Saints defense against Chargers’ quarterback Philip Rivers.I can’t speak for Rivers’ status come Sunday but I predict Payton will rest Brees and split the workload between reserve quarterbacks Taysom Hill and Teddy Bridgewater, perhaps playing Hill in the first half and Bridgewater the second half.
If Brees plays at all in the preseason, it likely will come in a series or two in Game 3 against the New York Jets the night of Aug. 24 at MetLife Stadium (6:30 p.m., Fox) in East Rutherford, New York. I’m not privy to inside information, just an educated hunch on my part.
After observing a day of rest Tuesday, the Saints will depart Wednesday for southern California where Payton hopes to accomplish several objectives. Besides getting his players out of the daily sauna-like conditions of Southeast Louisiana, the joint workouts will provide additional valuable practice tape to help Payton evaluate his roster.
Teams must pare their rosters to 53 by 3 p.m., Aug. 31, so time is slipping by quickly.
By the way, the Saints will be heading West again next month to play the Los Angeles Rams (Sept. 15) and Seattle Seahawks (Sept. 22) in Weeks 2 and 3 of the regular season. The Saints plan to fly to Seattle immediately after the Rams game where they will conduct practice all week at the University of Washington in order to stay acclimated to Pacific time.
But in the coming days, Payton and his Super Bowl-minded Saints will be California scheming.