After failing to get enough pressure on the quarterback in their first two games, the New Orleans Saints are hoping to fare a little better Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs.
One of the problems with bringing pressure in the first two weeks was that young quarterbacks Robert Griffin III and Cam Newton were just as capable of beating them with their legs as well as their arm.
That problem will be solved when the Saints go against the Chiefs’ Matt Cassel. A 6-foot-4, 230-pounder, Cassel is a classic pocket passer who’s averaged just 10.6 rushing yards per game in his eight-year NFL career.
“I think it’ll be emphasized a lot more this week,” Saints interim coach Aaron Kromer said Thursday. “The plan the last couple of weeks was to keep the quarterback in the pocket and not let him scramble when he does drop back to pass.”
The Saints had three sacks in the first two games, but Kromer said they must do better on first and second down and force the Chiefs into obvious passing situations.
“Getting them into third-and-unmanageable (situations),” he said, “that is when you get a lot of pressure on the quarterback.”
When Cassel was a few minutes late for a conference call Wednesday, a reporter started by asking him if he was delayed because the Chiefs were putting in the read-option that Griffin and Newton frustrated the Saints so much.
“I’d love to try that, but probably with my 5.5 speed (in the 40-yard dash) I don’t know if that’s going to work out too well,” Cassel said with a laugh.
When told that he leads all AFC quarterbacks with 45 rushing yards, Cassel said, “You know what? Sometimes I close my eyes and get out there and I just hope for the best.”
Cassel said former LSU wide receiver Dwayne Bowe, who missed the offseason and most of training camp before signing his franchise tender, is doing well in the offense run by new offensive coordinator Brian Daboll.
Bowe has 11 receptions for 155 yards so far after catching eight balls for 102 yards and two touchdowns in last week’s 35-17 loss to Buffalo.
“He’s doing a great job. He’s worked very hard since he’s come back,” Cassel said of Bowe, a six-year veteran. “He’s in here at 6 in the morning, but I think he’s adapted well to the new system. I was very surprised with how quickly he got caught up to speed.”
Saints linebacker Jonathan Casillas, who did not practice Wednesday because of a left knee injury, was able to work on a limited basis Thursday although his availability for Sunday’s game was not known.
Defensive end Turk McBride (ankle) did not practice again and wide receiver Marques Colston (foot) was limited for a second straight day.
For the Chiefs, tight ends Jake O’Connell (knee), Kevin Boss (head) and cornerback Jacques Reeves (hamstring) did not practice.
Saints vs. the AFC
The Saints have won 13 of their last 15 games against AFC competition dating to 2008 and are now 15-9 overall against that conference since Sean Payton took over in 2006.
Counting a win over the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLIV, the Saints are 16-9 against the AFC in that six-year span.
The Saints swept their four games with AFC South teams last season.
Benson, McAllister honored
The 24th annual Saints Hall of Fame Induction Luncheon will be held at noon Friday in the Bienville Club Room of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Saints owner Tom Benson and Deuce McAllister, the team’s all-time leading rusher, will become the 40th and 41st members of the Hall of Fame, which is located at Gate B on the Plaza level of the Superdome.
Longtime New Orleans sportscaster and Saints radio play-by-play man Jim Henderson will receive the Joe Gemelli Fleur de Lis Award for his contributions to the organization.