While their Week 4 game against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers stands out as a massive challenge, the New England Patriots actually have a favorable early-season stretch this year. One part of it is a contest versus the New Orleans Saints on the third weekend of the regular season — a game that has just gotten a bit easier.
As was announced last week, after all, Saints defensive tackle David Onyemata will miss the first six games of the year due to a suspension. The 28-year-old apparently tested positive for a banned substance, and will therefore have to watch a considerable part of his sixth NFL season from the sidelines.
“While I was certainly surprised and disappointed with this news, I am responsible for what I put in my body,” Onyemata wrote, via The Athletic. “As I have never knowingly taken anything that could cause a positive test, we are currently in the process of testing the supplements I was taking at the time of the test. Regardless, I am committed to being more aware of any medication and dietary supplements that may contain substances banned by the NFL.”
New Orleans’ game in New England is among those Onyemata will miss.
His absence will undoubtably be a blow to the Saints’ defense. Onyemata, after all, was arguably the club’s best defensive lineman last season. Aligning primarily along the interior, he impressed as both a pass rusher — registering 6.5 sacks — and a run defender; Onyemata also had an interception during his 15 in-game appearances.
Despite the Patriots being projected to field one of the best offensive lines in the game in 2021, Onyemata would therefore have been a challenging matchup. Now, New England’s new-look group will not have to worry about him.
Onyemata will obviously not be the only key member of the 2020 Saints to miss the game against the Patriots: future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees announced his retirement earlier this year. Accordingly, New England will face either Jameis Winston or projected backup options Taysom Hill, Trevor Siemian and Ian Book.
The two teams, who last played against each other in 2017, will meet on September 26 at Gillette Stadium.