Saints at Buccaneers: Key Match-Ups to Watch

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Nov 6, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; New Orleans Saints fullback John Kuhn (29) carries the ball against San Francisco 49ers cornerback Jimmie Ward (25) during the fourth quarter at Levi

Saints Fullback John Kuhn vs. the Buccaneers Linebackers

Fullback John Kuhn is a New Orleans fan favorite, and it is with good reason. Kuhn is a “throwback” style of player; a hard-nosed-type who is willing to do anything his team asks of him for a chance to win.

Kuhn’s role as a Saint this season has most often been as an extra blocker in the passing game, although sometimes used in goal line or short yardage situations.

New Orleans losing tight end Josh Hill for the season to a broken leg affects this offense more than some realize. Hill had earned nearly as many snaps as Coby Fleener, and even at times seemed to be a preferred option over Fleener on Brees’ check down routes.

Expect Kuhn to get more looks in the passing game with Hill’s absence. Mark Ingram is undoubtedly the Saints best receiving back, but we may see Kuhn take more snaps in the H-back position that Hill had manned.

Kuhn and the other Saints backs, along with Fleener, will need to draw attention from Buccaneer linebackers to prevent them from clogging the passing lanes on New Orleans wideouts or becoming extra blitzers against Brees.

Dec 4, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) runs the ball while defended by Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Clinton McDonald (98) and outside linebacker Lavonte David (54) during the second half at Qualcomm Stadium. Tampa Bay won 28-21. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Linebackers Kwon Alexander, Lavonte David, and Daryl Smith have certainly proven to be playmakers in the past, and are extremely active in the Bucs defensive scheme.

It could even be said that the aggressive Bucs linebacker corps is collectively responsible for the Tampa resurgence that has vaulted them into a first-place tie for the NFC South lead.

Kuhn and the Saints will have to better bring their lunch pails with them into Raymond James Stadium — because this one’s going to be a “slobber knocker”.