Story and Photos by Mark Robinson
The New Orleans Saints, after practicing for two weeks at the Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, traveled to Boston to play an Aug. 11 game against the New England Patriots. The Patriots won the game, 34-22, primarily because the Saints threw the ball away twice, and lost four fumbles. As is usual in opening pre-season games, the starting offenses played just one or two series before taking a seat. Then the second-stringers and others play, to demonstrate why they should be on the team when the regular season begins in early September.
The running game produced just 78 yards on 30 attempts, a dismal 2.6 yards per carry that will need to improve before the season begins. Several backs are competing for roster spots and playing time.
Quarterback Drew Brees threw just one pass, a nice-looking completion for 37 yards. Luke McCown and Garrett Grayson filled in admirably, though McCown had an awful fumble to give up a touchdown late in the game. The Saints passed for 291 yards in the game.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady did not play, because he attended a funeral. He has been suspended for the first four games of the season because of the Deflategate issue from the 2014 season’s AFC Championship Game.
The Saints returned to West Virginia Friday, Aug. 12, where they were scheduled to hold several practices before flying to Houston mid-week for practices and a game with the Houston Texans.
The Saints’ time in White Sulphur Springs has been productive, and the facilities are top-notch, but no announcement has been made about signing a contract to return next year. Until that contract is signed, nothing is for certain. The Saints time in West Virginia is a great boost to the local economy, as they bring with them not only a host of players and coaches and support staff, but also a large number of fans and other camp followers. And for some people, there is no excitement that quite matches the thrill of seeing professional football players walking downtown, or in Wal-mart.