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NFL Hall Of Fame Game: Can The New Orleans Saints Put The Distractions Behind Them?

It was not a quiet offseason for the New Orleans Saints. A bounty scandal, a list of suspensions and a high profile contract standoff with quarterback Drew Brees have dominated headlines in "Who Dat Nation," leading many to wonder whether or not the team can play through the distractions and continue its run as a perennial Super Bowl contender. On Sunday night, the Saints take their first step toward putting all the controversy in the rearview mirror when they open the preseason against the Arizona Cardinals in the annual Pro Football Hall of Fame Game.

To get a closer look at the Saints, we talked to Canal Street Chronicles, SB Nation's Saints blog.

What kind of things should fans be looking for with the Saints this weekend?

Definitely the defense. The big question is whether or not the presence of new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo will lead to an improvement. We won't get that answer this weekend but we might be able to tell how things will be different.

How much of a distraction are the coaching suspensions causing? The rest of the bounty issues?

What bounty issues?

Will the offense be any different this year? Is there a player due for a big season?

I expect the offense to be powerful and high-scoring just like last year, if not better. Now that running back Mark Ingram is healthy, has a year of experience behind him and had the benefit of a full offseason of workouts, I think he could primed for a breakout season.

What about the defense? how will they adapt to Spagnuolo's style?

That's the million dollar question. Of course we don't really know. It's definitely supposed to be more of a zone defense and less man-to-man like Gregg Williams' system. The hope is that his system is able to get more pressure on the quarterback with just the front four, without having to use all the exotic blitzes we've seen the past three years that also leave the defense vulnerable.

For more on the Saints, check out Canal Street Chronicles. For updates on the Hall of Fame game, stay tuned to this StoryStream.