Michael Thomas - There's one rule that all rookie wide receivers should follow in training camp, and it's don't make an awe-inspiring one handed catch when it doesn't matter if you don't plan on proving that it wasn't a fluke when they start keeping score. Well, Michael Thomas certainly - and fairly impressively - lived up to the hype. Everything that's been said about him at practice was on full display in his first game. The separation, the body control, the flare for the dramatic. If last night was even the smallest of indications then it looks like the Saints have rounded out the top half of a group of young, reliable receivers.
Kasim Edabali - It's not just the two sack stat line that is encouraging, it's what it represents. Another defensive lineman not named Cameron Jordan creating pressure. Obviously a Saints defense that's coming off a season in which they finished last in league history has a lot to prove at every position, but none more so than a pass rush that didn't make a single passer rush. The emergence of Edabali as a weapon off the edge would makes everyone's job easier...especially Dennis Allen's.
Sheldon Rankins - If there is a position that goes largely underappreciated in football it's defensive tackle. Even when they are doing their jobs well it's mostly under the radar. Sheldon Rankins - a young player at a position that doesn't lend itself to early success - was noticeably disruptive and that's just about as big of a compliment as you can give to him.
Willie Snead - Forget his one catch that went for 22 yards, because the name plate is what needs to be acknowledged here. SNEAD IV? If there's one thing I know about roman numerals it's that they command respect, and that can only mean good things for a player that nearly topped 1,000 yards in his rookie season without them.
The turnovers - I'm not going to make a big deal out a Mark Ingram fumble when he's proven that he doesn't have an issue with ball security when it matters. Nor am I going to act like 3 interceptions from quarterbacks that better not see the field this year is a genuine cause for concern. That said, you never want to see your team take the field for the first time all year and immediately start handing the ball to the opposition.
Vonn Bell - The guy has shown up in practice and created turnovers so I won't crucify him, but the angle he took on an eventual 40+ yard touchdown run was the kind of stuff Geometry teachers have nightmares about.
The Poop Emoji
Andrus Peat - On one hand, he does deserve credit for the world's best rendition of a parking cone, but on the other hand that's not going to serve Drew Brees too well during the season when he's looking to climb up into the pocket. The only explanation I can think for how bad someone so physically gifted was is that he read his positive press clippings from training camp and wanted to temper expectations for the season. That, or he has a drinking problem. Seriously, that's how out of sorts he was last night.
Garrett Grayson - Drew Brees only threw one pass for 37 yards, but somehow he gained miles and miles of leverage in contract negotiations. This definitely isn't a surprise, but the Saints are fucked if he goes down with an injury. Not just because he's still one of the premiere signal callers in football, but because the guy drafted to take his place looked about as confident in his abilities as I did the first time I touched a vagina. It's a good thing Brees appears as sharp as ever, because it's not a good sign when a 35 year old backup - that didn't play all that well himself - looks exponentially better under center.