Jimmy Graham to play in Friday's preseason game against Jacksonville

New Orleans Saints interim coach Joe Vitt said Thursday that tight end Jimmy Graham will play Friday in an exhibition game against Jacksonville. Graham, who caught 99 passes for 1,310 yards and 11 touchdowns last season had been out since injuring his back in practice last week.

Graham, whose 1,310 receiving yards last year were the second-most ever for a tight end, is one of the Saints' offensive weapons who creates matchup problems for the Saints with his 6-foot-7 size and superior athleticism.

Another of those matchup nightmares, diminutive running back Darren Sproles, is expected to miss Friday's game, a 7 p.m. kickoff at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, with a sore knee. Sproles' 2,696 all-purpose yards led the NFL last year.

Interim Saints head coach Joe Vitt on Thursday broke down what makes Graham and Sproles such nightmares for defenses and why they're such important pieces of the Saints' offense.

"You have a big-bodied guy like Jimmy Graham that can go out and have matchup problems with a corner, have matchup problems with a safety, and you know you have matchup problems with a linebacker," Vitt said. "Then you have the same thing with Darren Sproles. It is kind of interesting, when Darren Sproles comes in to the game, how are people looking at him. Are they treating him as a wide receiver and are they going to bring their nickel in? Well, if they don't bring their nickel in, you are going to motion him out to the perimeter and you are going to guarantee a matchup on a linebacker. It's a chess match and those two guys give you the affordability to do a lot of different things.

"I think today's defenses are all matchup-oriented by personnel or like-people. I think that is one of the things our offense has done well with. Then you have a guy like Drew Brees that identifies the coverage so early in the down and goes to that mismatch and gets the ball out."

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