METAIRIE — Appearing to be in midseason form on the first Friday in August, New Orleans Saints acting coach Joe Vitt declined to publicize how much his starters will play in Sunday night’s Hall of Fame game against the Arizona Cardinals in Canton, Ohio.
But Vitt did provide a clue at the conclusion of the team’s last full workout before leaving Saturday on a six-day road trip that will see them moving from Ohio to Foxborough, Mass., to work against the New England Patriots before their exhibition game Thursday night at Gillette Stadium.
Kickoff for the annual Hall of Fame game is at 7 p.m. Sunday.
“We did talk about that in detail last night, and I really don’t want to talk about the snaps,’’ Vitt told reporters. “So if you go back and look at our Hall of Fame game against Pittsburgh in ’07, you’ll know exactly how we’re going to play the game.’’
In that 20-7 loss to the Steelers, coach Sean Payton pulled starting quarterback Drew Brees after completing one of six passes for 6 yards in two series. The three remaining quarterbacks on the training camp roster finished the game.
Based on that game plan, Brees is expected to open against the Cardinals, break a sweat, then go to the sideline and turn the game over to reserve quarterbacks Chase Daniel, Sean Canfield and Luke McCown.
Earlier this week, Vitt discussed the general approach he planned to take against the Cardinals, again without tipping his hand in terms of player personnel.
“We are going to treat this first preseason game just like we would treat our Black and Gold scrimmage that we have every year,’’ Vitt said. “It will be a set number of plays that our veterans play and our starters play. We’ve got to take a good hard look at some of our younger players but we are going to treat it like we would the Black and Gold scrimmage.’’
Vitt said three injured players will not play against the Cardinals: CB Jabari Greer (sports hernia), WR Nick Toon (foot) and CB Patrick Robinson (shoulder).
Look for the likelihood of CBs Johnny Patrick and Marquis Johnson starting against Arizona and rookie CB Corey White, the team’s fifth-round draft pick, getting ample playing time.
Rookie DT Akiem Hicks, the team’s third-round draft pick who fractured his right hand at the end of the off-season program, participated in his first padded practice of training camp Friday. His playing status against the Cardinals is to be determined.
“I think that we are sensitive to the fact that this is a Canadian kid coming out of a lower-class program (the University of Regina) and he hasn’t had the pads on,’’ Vitt said. “We will evaluate that today.”
Numbers to know
The Saints are 1-3 all-time in Canton, beating Indianapolis 10-3 in 1996 and losing to Minnesota in 1970 (14-13), and the Steelers in 1983 (27-14) and again in 2007.
“In the preseason, there is a purpose. When you go out there, you understand you are not going to play a lot — especially the first preseason game. But when you are out there, you want to look sharp. There are just certain things that you want to happen. You want to be playing with great tempo. You want minimal mistakes, just playing fast. Especially with the first group, you want to get back in the flow and the rhythm.”
—Brees on Sunday night’s game.