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Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints' offense start strong

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CANTON, Ohio -- Football is back. That alone makes this opening preseason affair between the New Orleans Saints and Arizona Cardinals different than the rest.

The Hall of Fame Game didn't paint a complete picture about the teams playing in the Saints' 17-10 victory, but hints were dropped. Some of them were ominous.

1. Let's start with a bright spot. In Drew Brees' lone offensive drive, the Saints picked up where they left off in January. The team buzzed down the field for the first touchdown of 2012. The Cardinals, totally asleep at the wheel, did nothing to stop the running game. New Orleans' three-headed monster of Mark Ingram, Darren Sproles and Pierre Thomas might toy with the 3,000-yard mark this season.

2. A collection of college officials worked the game. Things didn't start well. The upside here is that, just like the players, the replacement refs have a full preseason to work out the kinks. You. Can. Do. It.

3. Kevin Kolb was very Kevin Kolb-ish out of the gate. On his first pass of the 2012 preseason, he was picked off by Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins. On his second drive, Kolb floated passes to phantom-men and ran rattled behind an overwhelmed offensive line. On drive No. 3, disaster struck. Kolb was injured, leaving with a rib contusion. Outrageous opening act for Kolb.

4. John Skelton, by contrast, threw the ball well. He moved the Cardinals and led them on a long, balanced scoring drive. The offensive line -- frankly, a concern for Arizona after tonight -- did little to help, but Skelton showed an ability to make things happen. Round 1 of this quarterback battle has a clear winner. And when it comes to Kolb, the lingering question is this: Does anyone believe he can last 16 games?

5. One additional injury worth monitoring for the Cardinals: Starting linebacker Paris Lenon suffered a right ankle injury during the first quarter. He was listed as doubtful to return, and we didn't see him again Sunday night.

Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @marcsesslernfl.

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