The New Orleans Saints beat the Houston Texans 31-23, remaining undefeated this preseason. In what is consider the most important preseason game, the Saints showed some bright spots, as well as some parts that are a work in progress.
The offense took a little while to take off, but looked crisp once they got in their groove. Pierre Thomas made his return and he, along with Mark Ingram, showed that they are completely healthy. Both had big plays, including a nice 51 yard touchdown scamper by Thomas. Thomas, nor Ingram, carried the ball too many times, but they should be ready to shoulder the load for the Saints this season. The wide receiver battle continued with Kenny Stills and Nick Toon continuing to make plays. Stills, in all likelihood, will be the third wide receiver on the depth chart because of his big play ability, but Toon has done enough to earn some playing time throughout the season. In addition, Andy Tanner made his case for a roster spot scoring two touchdowns while Preston Parker had some nice plays on special teams. The fourth preseason game will most likely determine whether one, or both, of the receivers make the roster.
All eyes, however, were on the defense and how they would fare in their first contest against a legitimate offense. There was mixed bag of results. Ben Tate was able to have his way with the front seven averaging close to seven yard a carry for the day. On the other hand, the Saints were able to get off the field on third down, holding the Texans’ first team to one out of four on third down conversions. Also, two stars of the defense this preseason continued to shine as Cameron Jordan and Glenn Foster each recorded a sack and some pressures. The most impressive aspect, however, was the fact the Texans had to settle for three field goals and one failed fourth down conversion on the goal line. The defense isn’t going to be a stifling, shut down defense; but, if they are holding opponents to field goals and get off the field on third down, that just might be enough.
The Saints have had their triumphs and tribulations this preseason, but remember that it is only the preseason. Expect the defense to be a little better as Rob Ryan will open up the playbook more, and will also have Junior Galette and Martez Wilson at his disposal. However, his job will be made a lot easier since he will have Drew Brees and his offense to lean on. Up next, the Saints will conclude their preseason in Miami and face the Miami Dolphins.