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Behind Enemy Lines: Arizona Cardinals open 2015 season against New Orleans Saints

At long last, the 2015 football season is upon us.

Head coach Bruce Arians heads into his third season as the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, looking to continue the momentum the franchise has built over the last two years.

The end of last season left a bad taste in the mouths of Cardinals fans — numerous injuries left the team short-handed and they were eliminated in the Wild Card round of the NFC Playoffs by the Carolina Panthers.

Key players are healthy again and the Cardinals have Super Bowl aspirations. The first hurdle they need to navigate is the one provided by the New Orleans Saints Sunday at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale.

The Saints were 7-9 last year and missed the playoffs for only the second time since 2009. This week, we’ll keep you updated on everything going on with the Saints as they prepare for their contest against the Cardinals.

Friday, September 11

•  New Orleans Saints injuries: Tim Hightower returns to practice on Thursday (NOLA.com)

New Orleans Saints running back Tim Hightower returned to practice on Thursday, but five other players remain out.

•  Don’t sweat it, Saints fans; here’s why New Orleans’ crummy preseason red-zone stats shouldn’t concern you (The New Orleans Advocate)

During the preseason, the New Orleans Saints scored touchdowns on only 40 percent of their trips inside the red zone. That figure placed the Saints 24th in the NFL. After scoring on 53.3 percent of their red-zone trips last season, one might be inclined to look at what’s changed, realize Jimmy Graham is no longer in town and conclude that the season is in peril.

•  Brandon Browner, Ben Watson, Cam Jordan among Saints’ captains (ESPN.com)

Cornerback Brandon Browner has been with the New Orleans Saints for less than six months, and tight end Benjamin Watson for less than three years. But the respect they have earned was evident when they were elected as captains this week.

•  Double Check: Saints vs. Cardinals (ESPN.com)

ESPN’s Mike Sando breaks down the Arizona Cardinals’ matchup with the New Orleans Saints.


 

Thursday, September 10

• Andrus Peat to make New Orleans Saints debut in hometown

When the St. Louis Cardinals moved to Phoenix in 1988, offensive lineman Todd Peat moved with them. Peat raised his family in the Phoenix area, and that’s where his son Andrus will make his NFL debut on Sunday.

New Orleans Saints defensive end Akiem Hicks confident pass rush will improve from preseason

The Saints ability to get to the quarterback as anemic at best in the preseason. They only had two official sacks, all of which came from second and third-team rookies.

• Madden NFL 16: New Orleans Saints fall to Arizona Cardinals in opener, 27-20 (NOLA.com)

Arizona Cardinals strong safety Deone Bucannon picked off Saints quarterback Drew Brees with 1:35 to play at the Cardinals’ 5-yard line to preserve a 27-20 Arizona win.

• Saints’ Drew Brees ready to roll after short-but-sweet preseason (ESPN.com)

Drew Brees laughed at the mention of the New Orleans Saints‘ 0-4 preseason record.

He can do that since he played in a total of four drives throughout the entire summer and finished with a passer rating of 156.0 — the second-best in the NFL.

• New faces on New Orleans Saints defense prepare for first start vs. Cardinals on Sunday (NOLA.com)

Roster turnovers are normal in the NFL from season to season, especially if the team in question failed to make the playoffs the prior year.

• New Orleans Saints’ Brandin Cooks has to beat Cardinals’ Patrick Peterson: Scout’s Take podcast (NOLA.com)

New Orleans Saints receiver Brandin Cooks will face a major challenge in former LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson in the Saints’ season opener Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals.

• Drew Brees crocodile hunt not what Sean Payton expected (ESPN.com)

New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton’s reaction to watching his quarterback tackle and kill a live crocodile in the Panamanian jungle on a reality TV show Monday night was much like Drew Brees‘ own reaction when it was being filmed: Once he got over his initial shock, he decided to have some fun with it.

• After winning New Orleans Saints kicking job, Zach Hocker now must work to keep it (NOLA.com)

New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton said he doesn’t want new kicker Zach Hocker looking over his shoulder “to see someone warming up in the bullpen.”


Wednesday, September 9

Jairus Byrd (knee) expected back for Saints in Week 2 or 3 (ESPN.com)

New Orleans Saints safety Jairus Byrd is expected to return to the lineup around Week 2 or 3, sources told ESPN NFL Insider Ed Werder.

Byrd missed all of training camp because of swelling in his knee, according to Werder.

Altercation allegedly involving Saints’ Cameron Jordan investigated (ESPN.com)

The New Orleans Police Department is investigating a night club altercation that allegedly involved New Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan this past weekend, a NOPD spokesman confirmed. No charges have been filed, and no arrests have been made.

New Orleans Saints running back C.J. Spiller likely to miss Week 1, NFL Network reports (NOLA.com)

“Saints RB CJ Spiller (knee) will not play in Week 1, I’m told, as he recovers from that minor knee surgery. Likely good to go after that,” Ian Rapoport tweeted.

Looking at the crystal ball for the 2015 New Orleans Saints (NOLA.com)

If the Saints are going to rebound from their disappointing 7-9 campaign and return to the playoffs, they’ll need the 12th man to carry them there. The good news is the NFL schedule-maker was on their side this offseason.

New Orleans Saints reportedly work out Hakeem Nicks (NFL.com)

Nicks was released by the Titans on Saturday, leaving the 27-year-old looking for work after six seasons in the NFL with the Giants and Colts.

Bobby Richardson finding his footing with Saints (New Orleans Advocate)

New Orleans put the full-court press on Richardson after the draft. Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan called. So did defensive line coach Bill Johnson. Richardson felt like the Saints wanted him more than most, and the reasons were clear right from the start. Richardson’s lateral quickness and relentless style made him a playmaker early in camp.


Tuesday, September 8

History says Saints need to start fast (ESPN.com)

The Saints’ early part of the schedule has been an uncanny predictor of their success throughout the Sean Payton-Drew Brees era.

They started 13-0 during their 2009 Super Bowl season. And the other four years in which they made the playoffs, they started 5-1 (2006), 3-1 (2010), 4-1 (2011) and 5-0 (2013).

In the four years when they missed the playoffs, the Saints started 0-4 (2007), 1-2 (2008), 0-4 (2012) and 1-3 (2014).

Report: Saints bringing in veteran kicker Nick Novak for tryout (ESPN.com)

Apparently the New Orleans Saints aren’t completely set on Zach Hocker as their kicker. The Saints are bringing in veteran kicker Nick Novak for a tryout Tuesday, according to CBS’ Jason La Canfora.

New Orleans Saints RB Khiry Robinson says via Twitter he returned to pads Monday (NOLA.com)

The New Orleans Saints appear to be getting some good news about some of their injured players.

Running back Khiry Robinson insinuated a return to practice Monday after missing practice since Aug. 20 with an undisclosed injury.

Ashaad Mabry completes New Orleans Saints 10-man practice squad (NOLA.com)

Rookie defensive lineman Ashaad Mabry will join the New Orleans Saints practice squad, a league source told NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune.


Monday, September 7

New Orleans Saints go young, thin at WR on first 53-man roster (ESPN.com)

Here’s a player-by-player look at the New Orleans Saints’ 53-man roster.

Saints’ Drew Brees moonlights as crocodile hunter (ESPN.com)

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees will tackle the Panamanian jungle — and a live crocodile — in tonight’s episode of NBC’s “Running Wild with Bear Grylls.”

Looking at the crystal ball for the 2015 New Orleans Saints: Jeff Duncan (NOLA.com)

If the New Orleans Saints are to return to their winning ways this season, they’ll first need to see their home field become an advantage again.

Of all the inexplicable things that happened during the 2014 season, none was more confounding than the Saints’ five-game home losing streak to end the season.

New Orleans Saints safety Jairus Byrd ‘rapidly improving,’ NFL Network reports (NOLA.com)

The Saints obviously think Byrd’s health is on the mend. They decided not to place him on regular season PUP, which means he can return to practice at any point.

New Orleans Saints announce practice squad moves, waiver claims (NewOrleansSaints.com)

The New Orleans Saints have made the following roster moves, it was announced by the club Sunday, Sept. 6. In 53-man roster transactions, the team has claimed DE Obum Gwacham off of waivers from the Seattle Seahawks and LB Michael Mauti from the Minnesota Vikings, terminated the contract of S Kenny Phillips and waived DT Ashaad Mabry. The team signed WR R.J. Harris, G/T Sean Hickey, WR Seantavius Jones, G Cyril Lemon, TE Chris Manhertz, FB Toben Opurum and CB Sammy Seamster to the practice squad. The club also reached an injury settlement and waived LB Ronald Powell. The roster moves were announced by Executive Vice President/General Manager Mickey Loomis.

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