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Raiders pre-camp 2016 season preview: Week 1 at New Orleans Saints

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Our week by week Raiders season preview begins with a look at the season opener in New Orleans

Training camp kicks off in two weeks which means the regular season is not far away. And with that day approaching, we begin looking at each of the opponents the Raiders will be facing. Starting with week one in New Orleans.

Saints 2015 numbers

Record: 7-9

Offense rank: 2nd

Defense rank: 31st

When you talk about the Saints, that conversation begins and ends with Drew Brees. He is the team’s All Pro quarterback and what makes that offense usually one of the best in the league. That includes last season when they were one of just two teams to average over 400 yards per game (403). That included being the best passing offense in the league, averaging over 310 yards per game.

As good as that offense is, their defense is equally terrible. They were the mirror image, in fact, as one of just three teams to give up an average of over 400 yards per game (420), along with giving up nearly 30 points per game – the worst in the league.

To check in on the Saints team now, we got some help from our friends over at Canal Street Chronicles:

Notable free agent additions: TE Coby Fleener; DT Nick Fairley; LB Craig Robertson

Notable free agent departures: WR Marques Colston; G Jahri Evans; LBs David Hawthorne & Ramon Humber

Trades: Traded their 2016 3rd & 4th round picks to the Patriots to move back into the 2nd round (61st overall) and acquire S Vonn Bell; Traded their 2016 & 2017 5th round picks to the Washington Redskins to get a 4th round pick and selected DL David Onyemata

Draft picks expected to contribute as rookies: DT Sheldon Rankins (Round 1); S Vonn Bell Round 2); WR Michael Thomas (Round 2); DL David Onyemata (Round 4)

Biggest offseason addition: This will be a point of contention for many Saints’ fans, but the Saints’ biggest offseason addition on the field will presumably be rookie Sheldon Rankins. The Saints’ complete lack of interior pass rush in 2015 is what led to this pick, and he was the consensus pick for many experts once he outstripped Alabama NT A’Shawn Robinson in most workouts. A notable mention goes to TE Coby Fleener, but with Drew Brees giving Benjamin Watson the best receiving season of his career just last season, the Saints likely see TE as a plug & play position these days.

Biggest storyline heading into training camp: With what has consistently been one of the worst defenses in the NFL for several years (really since the departure of Gregg Williams), the Saints hope that Dennis Allen can bring them some stability at the defensive coordinator position. Allen was the Saints’ DC for 6 games last season, in which the Saints went 3-3. Known as a secondary coach first, Allen hopes to bring the Saints up from the depths of being one of the worst pass defenses in NFL history last year.

Under-the-radar storyline heading into training camp: Getting carries in a running back by committee system is always a battle, and the Saints have a few hungry players this year. Tim Hightower’s surprising breakout towards the end of last year led to the Saints re-signing him to a one year deal. Rookie RB Daniel Lasco is a lifelong Saints’ fan getting the opportunity to prove himself to the Saints, and sophomore Daniel Murphy is vying for carries as well after primarily serving as a return specialist in his rookie year. CJ Spiller is heading into the second year of his 4 year deal after a massively disappointing 2015, and the Saints hope to recapture some of the excitement that he brought to the Buffalo offense.

Notable injuries heading into training camp: OLB Hau’oli Kikaha (Torn ACL); CB Kyle Wilson (Torn Labrum); S Jairus Byrd (Knee); CB Keenan Lewis (Knee/Hip); RB CJ Spiller (Knee)