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Rams mindful of Saints personnel changes, but still expect same talented team

The Saints' first game of the season played in the background as Rams head coach Sean McVay was asked about his week 2 opponent's personnel changes.

McVay had not had a chance to study the most recent game film on New Orleans as a result, but chances are he has a pretty good understanding of what took expect from it on Sunday.

"I think a lot of that," McVay said of the Saints' personnel losses. "I'll be able to better answer after you at least see one game of real inventory from them."

In reality, the Saints didn't lose much from last year's squad that met the Rams in the NFC Championship. However, two key modifications have come on the offensive side of the ball.

Center Max Unger retired after starting 63 games at center in four seasons with New Orleans and was replaced by rookie Erik McCoy, a second-round pick out of Texas A&M. McCoy helped the Saints offensive line limit the Texans' defensive line to just one sack. Given a clean pocket for most of Monday night, QB Drew Brees completed 32 of 43 passes for 370 yards with two touchdowns and an interception in a 30-28 Saints victory.

Running back Mark Ingram signed with the Baltimore Ravens as an unrestricted free agent in March following the expiration of his four-year deal with the Saints. The former Alabama standout collected 138 carries for 645 yards and six touchdowns in a complementary backfield role to starter Alvin Kamara.

Both players helped New Orleans finish second in the NFL in total offense at 510 yards per contest for the 2018 regular season.

"They played as good as anybody when you go from, I want to say the halfway point through the end of last year. They're going to be a great challenge," McVay said. "Their offense has consistently been one of the best units in the league over the last handful of years since (Saints Head Coach) Sean (Payton) and (Saints QB) Drew (Brees) have been there."

New Orleans is coming off a thrilling 30-28 victory over the Houstan Texans on Monday Night Football with kicker Wil Lutz drilling the game-winning 58-yard field goal as time expired.

In McVay's eyes, regardless of offseason changes, this still looks like the same Saints team that went 13-3 in the regular season and almost reached the Super Bowl.

"They're a great football team," McVay said. "You see why they were the No. 1 seed in the NFC last year. We're looking forward to a great challenge and hopefully a great week of preparation."

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