The New Orleans Saints got off to a good start Thursday, beginning this year’s preseason with a win against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Black and Gold brought home a 24-20 victory in the first of the four run-ups to the regular season.
No, these games don’t count in the final standings. But they do have some significance.
They give the fans a chance to see the people who might have been injured at the end of last year for the first time healthy again. Fans also get their first sights of new arrivals – players who came here as free agents or as draft picks. And they get to see some of their favorites as well.
The Saints faithful did all of those things Thursday.
Although some of the big-name players didn’t play, most did. There was no Drew Brees or Cameron Jordan or first-round draft pick Marcus Davenport. But running backs Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara, wide receiver Michael Thomas and a host of defensive stars did participate, and most looked ready to start the new season on a roll.
And there were some unexpected bright spots in the preseason opener. Running back Jonathan Williams and linebacker Jayrone Elliott both made big plays late in the game that endeared them to the fans.
Other players, too, made solid contributions to the team’s win.
Most importantly, the Saints got through the game without incurring any serious injuries. Remaining healthy, after all, is the first goal of the preseason.
Thursday’s game was a tantalizing introduction to the preseason, the time when football fans are focused on the approaching season. It gave them reasons for optimism and debate. It allowed them to cheer once again for their team while also watching as that team began to take shape, a process that will continue over the coming weeks.
The Saints have a great quarterback, an innovative and daring coach and a steadily improving offense that should be able to take its next step this year. There is reason for optimism among the fans, and there is nothing but eager anticipation for the approaching season.
This week, that anticipation will build once again as the Black and Gold play their second preseason game, a home matchup Friday against the Arizona Cardinals.
Editorials represent the opinion of the newspaper, not of any individual.