The first two preseason games are typically approached with more of an internal view.
Teams approach those contests looking to tune up their skills and test different things.
The third game, however, takes on a more season-like feel. The amount of time spent game planning pales to how teams prepare for the regular season, but some time is spent prepping for the upcoming opponent.
So, the Saints’ Wednesday and Thursday practices took on a different feel from previous sessions as they spent a good amount of time prepping for Saturday’s game against the Indianapolis Colts.
“When it comes to certain formations, tight ends strength, even in Week 2 you’re wanting to make sure you get your defense set to a certain look,” Saints coach Sean Payton said. “That’s just preparing for the opponent.
“Obviously you have more days to do that in the regular season.”
One thing that stood out during Thursday’s session was wide receiver Charles Hawkins spending most of the session simulating Colts speedy wide receiver T. Y. Hilton, who caught 82 passes for 1,083 yards last season with five touchdowns.
Hawkins, an undrafted player out of Southern University, is fighting for a roster spot.
If Hawkins misses the cut but proves capable of successfully simulating receivers on other teams, it could give him a chance to earn a spot on the practice squad.
He appeared successful Thursday. Hawkins caught several passes and his speed gave the defense trouble at times. His quickness led to some debate about who is the fastest wide receiver on the roster.
“He’s a fast player. You have to ask him and Joe (Morgan), and maybe (Robert Meachem),” wide receiver Nick Toon said. “I’d love to see them race.”
Brees ready to go
No verbal confirmation was needed after watching Drew Brees shred the defense during Thursday’s practice.
Unofficially, the Saints quarterback completed all of his passes during team drills Thursday. Officially, Brees declared himself ready to go for Saturday’s game against the Colts.
“Obviously I didn’t want to push it too hard, too fast, because I didn’t want to take any unnecessary chances with it,” said Brees, who is fighting his way back from a left oblique strain. “So just kind of that progression, each day, of, ‘OK, I can do a little bit more, I can kick up the volume, kick up the intensity.’ ”
Saturday will mark the first preseason game that Brees will take part in. He views it as an important game since it could be the only time he sees the field this preseason if the Saints follow tradition and rest their starters for the finale.
“I want to play well, I want to get out there and feel comfortable,” Brees said.
“I feel like this week has been great just to get back out and feel like I’m throwing the ball like I should. And now it’s just time to take it to the game field and go through this final dress rehearsal before the season.”
The Saints got a jump on trimming their roster by parting ways with four players Thursday.
Among those waived were wide receiver Tobais Palmer, running back Timothy Flanders, tight end Je’Ron Hamm and linebacker Chidera Uzo-Diribe.
New Orleans must cut its roster to 75 players by Aug. 26. It currently employs 86 players
Hamm, Uzo-Diribe and Flanders were signed as undrafted rookies this offseason.
Palmer is not a rookie but was signed after training camp began.
Hamm, who attended Louisiana-Monroe, missed a significant amount of time after suffering a stinger.
Five observations from Thursday’s practice.
1 As far as we could tell, Drew Brees did not throw an incompletion during 11-on-11 drills. The session was held in shorts and shells, so contact was limited, but it was still an impressive feat.
2 Keenan Lewis did not appear to be limited during Thursday’s practice, and Patrick Robinson logged some snaps in team drills in place of Champ Bailey.
. Corey White intercepted a pass Thursday, and flashed several other times with good coverage. Assuming health for the top four players, the Saints appear to be well stocked at cornerback.
4 LB Victor Butler and CB Rod Sweeting spent some time doing conditioning work off to the side, indicating that they could be nearing a return to action.
5 Brees played with a goatee on his face. Imagine how much better he’ll look when it’s gone.