The New Orleans Saints are going to be a bit shorthanded in their secondary during Sunday’s matchup with the Green Bay Packers as they will be without starting safety Marcus Maye and starting cornerback Paulson Adebo.
It was reported earlier in the week that Maye had been suspended for violating the league’s policy on Substances of Abuse. Maye had played all 123 of the Saints’ defensive snaps through two games, recording an interception and logging 10 total tackles, the second-most on the team.
In his place will be rookie fifth-round pick Jordan Howden, who has played 26 defensive snaps this season, according to PFF.
Adebo was added to the Saints injury report on Friday with a hamstring injury and was listed as questionable. However, Nick Underhill reported on Saturday that Adebo will be out.
Adebo is a boundary cornerback who has been targeted nine times through two games this season, allowing five receptions at 15.0 yards per catch with one interception. He has made five out of his six tackle attempts as well.
Underhill adds that in Adebo’s place, he expects Isaac Yiadom to take over. Yiadom has a career completion rate of 67.1 percent when targeted, allowing 13.7 yards per catch.
Overall, this is a Saints defense that has been one of the best in football through two games. At all three levels, this is an aggressive and physical unit that is going to challenge the young Green Bay wide receivers.
"“Fast. Physical. Aggressive,” said Matt LaFleur about the Saints defense on Wednesday. “Very sound and want to challenge you on all three levels.“I mean, they have a ton of players on that defense, and they challenge you,” added LaFleur. “I told our guys on the perimeter, they are going to grab and hold, and that’s what they do. But they play aggressive and you’ve got to be very fundamentally sound.”"
To combat this style of play, it’s going to be important that the Packers find some sort of success in the run game to keep them out of predictable passing situations and to help open up passing game opportunities, specifically off play-action.
The continued heavy use of motion to give the Green Bay receivers free releases at the line of scrimmage and to force the defense to make late adjustments will be key. Also key will be leveraging the versatility this Packers offense has – something Matt LaFleur has done a very good job of – by throwing a lot of different looks at this Saints defense to keep them off-balanced, to help create mismatches, and to get pass-catchers in space.
As Jordan Love has done through the first two games and throughout the summer, taking care of the football will be a must. Love has struck a very good balance up to this point of knowing when to fit the ball into a tight window or push it downfield and when to continue going through his progressions and take what the defense is giving him.
Christian Watson is listed as questionable heading into the game, as is Aaron Jones. According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, both are expected to be true game-time decisions.