Drew Brees led the starting offensive unit down the field for a field goal in the first quarter of Thursday night's preseason final in New Orleans between the Saints and Baltimore Ravens.

Brees was not injured. If you're looking for any silver linings for the Saints, that might be it.

The Ravens handed the Saints their 9th consecutive preseason loss (0-4 in 2016 preseason), beating the Black & Gold 23-14.

"I felt like it was important offensively," said Payton of playing Brees and first stringers in the final preseason game. "Our plan was to play the healthy starters."

The last preseason game is typically a week to give starters the night off and evaluate backups and bubble players.

New Orleans second, third and fourth unit offense struggled to move the ball, mustering 6 yards in the 2nd quarter. The evaluation isn't positive.

The Saints defense struggled to get the Ravens off the field, losing the time of possession battle by a wide margin after 3 quarters, before narrowing the gap to 32:00-28:00 by game's end.

Offensive line play has been undoubtedly the biggest consistent weakness throughout preseason.

Thursday night, it led to an easy Ravens touchdown when Saints backup quarterback Luke McCown was put under immediate duress, hit, fumbled, and Baltimore recovered in the end zone for a score.

"We've been a little bit of a work in progress up front on the offensive line," noted Payton.

A little bit of work in progress could lead to a lot of headaches once the regular season gets underway on September 11th.

Before opening day, the Saints must trim their roster from 75 to 53 by Saturday afternoon.

While other teams begin cutting down to 53, New Orleans will look closely at the waiver wire for potential players to fill positions without much depth.


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