Strategy And Personnel

The Sports Xchange

November 29, 2018 at 2:10 am.


–T Terron Armstead, who has missed the last three games because of a pectoral injury, was the only Saints player who didn’t practice Tuesday.

–WR Tre’Quan Smith (toe) was limited Tuesday.

–G Andrus Peat (shoulder) was limited Tuesday.

–DE Marcus Davenport (toe) was limited Tuesday.

–TE Dan Arnold (chest) was limited Tuesday.

–CB P.J. Williams (hip) was limited Tuesday.

–K Wil Lutz (back) was limited Tuesday.

PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: LB Demario Davis has been a key to the Saints improvement in defending the run this year. He’ll be an important factor in New Orleans’ attempt to contain Ezekiel Elliott and the Cowboys’ running game. Davis has 76 total tackles to not only lead the team, but lead it by a wide margin. S Vonn Bell is second with 53 tackles. If Davis and the run defense can slow down Elliott, it will make things more challenging for Dak Prescott and the passing game.

GAME PLAN: The Saints want to put the Cowboys in a position where they’re more dependent on Dak Prescott than Ezekiel Elliott to succeed. That means containing Elliott, putting the Cowboys behind schedule and making them play from behind. If Prescott winds up in obvious passing situations, the Saints have a better chance of pressuring him and creating turnovers. If Elliott is able to find running room consistently, Prescott will face less challenging passing situations and Dallas will have a better chance to maintain possession and limit Drew Brees’ opportunities. The Saints need to be balanced on offense, but the Cowboys are allowing fewer than 100 rushing yards per game. Brees might need to use the passing game to set up the run in order to achieve that balance.

–Saints CB Marshon Lattimore vs. Cowboys WR Amari Cooper. The recent acquisition of Cooper has been a big boost to the Dallas offense and he’s coming off an eight-catch, 180-yard, two-touchdown game. The Saints might not assign Lattimore to Cooper on every down, but he figures to guard him the most. Lattimore has had a quieter season than he had as the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year last season, but he has gotten progressively better. His only interception of the season came two weeks ago against Philadelphia.

–Saints OL vs. Cowboys LB Leighton Vander Esch. Various blockers will have a hand in trying to keep the Cowboys’ leading tackler away from the Saints’ ball-carriers. He can be a disruption to various aspects of the Saints offense, whether it’s Mark Ingram II and Alvin Kamara as runners or pass-catchers or whether it’s wide receivers in the short to intermediate passing game. The rookie No. 1 draft choice has been extremely active and effective, and the Saints will target him in plotting everything they do.