NEW ORLEANS — Kansas City coach Andy Reid couldn’t complain about the way his new starting quarterback drove the Chiefs down the field.
It will be interesting to see how they do for more than one series.
Smith led Kansas City for the opening score on his only series, but the Chiefs sputtered after that in a 17-13 loss in the preseason opener for both teams Friday night.
“Alex did a nice job all around,” Reid said. “The first offense did a nice job. … After that, we had protection problems on the offensive side.”
Preston Parker had a pair of touchdown catches in his bid to fill one of New Orleans’ open receiver spots, helping the Saints come back in the second half, after the starters called it a night.
“Preston played exceptionally well with the opportunity he was given,” said Saints coach Sean Payton, on the sideline for the first time since his bounty suspension ended last January.
Reid, who calls offensive plays, saw all he needed of Smith in the opening drive, which went 80 yards on 14 plays.
Jamaal Charles capped it with a 13-yard reception and short TD run. Smith was 7 of 8 for 68 yards against the Saints’ defense, which was overhauled this offseason by new coordinator Rob Ryan.
“We all draw them up that way, not that they all turn out that way,” Reid said of the first series. “I knew Rob Ryan had spent a lot of time working on their defense, so it was a pretty good challenge there. It was good that we executed the way we did.”
Drew Brees was 7 of 10 for 65 yards in two series, which produced one field goal.
His longest completion went for 22 yards to rookie Kenny Stills, who like Parker is a candidate to replace injured deep threat Joe Morgan as the Saints’ No. 3 receiver behind Marques Colston and Lance Moore.
Parker, a three-year veteran, stood out for at least one preseason game. His first TD, an off-balance catch of Luke McCown’s pass to the back of the end zone, tied the game at 10 in the third quarter.
His second TD on a quick sideline throw at the goal line made it 17-10. He finished with four catches for 43 yards, including a leaping 33-yard catch.
Parker played in only two games last season with Tampa Bay before being cut in September. Two seasons ago, however, he played in all 16 games for the Buccaneers and had 40 catches for 544 yards and three TDs.
“Preston has been around and he’s played, and any time you get that kind of experience … he’s going to be more comfortable than some of the other guys,” McCown said. “I was excited for Preston.”
Nick Toon had four catches for 66 yards. Andy Tanner caught three passes for 59 yards.
Still, Payton remained somewhat critical of his team’s performance.
“I just thought it was sloppy,” he said. “That kind of burrs at me a little bit because that’s a reflection of us as coaches.”
The Chiefs’ return game made the Saints’ kickoff and punt coverage look suspect. The Chiefs’ had two field goals set up by big returns – Dexter McCluster’s 55-yard punt return and Knile Davis’ 77-yard kickoff return.
Former Saints backup QB Chase Daniel took over for Smith on Kansas City’s second drive, which began at the New Orleans 32 after McCluster’s long return was augmented by a holding call against New Orleans. That led to Ryan Succop’s 42-yard field goal.
Brees’ first drive stalled quickly. His final drive covered 74 yards in 10 plays, setting up Garrett Hartley’s 24-yard field goal.
While Ryan’s new 3-4 defense struggled in its opening series, it allowed Kansas City only 135 yards the rest of the game.
“You don’t want to say it’s going to take time to get into the flow,” Payton said. “That’s something we’ve got to be better at.”
New Orleans’ defense also produced four sacks, one each by Baraka Atkins, third-round draft choice John Jenkins, undrafted rookie Glenn Foster and cornerback Jabari Greer.
The Chiefs struggled to sustain drives with Daniel under center, and third-stringer Tyler Bray fared no better when he entered the game in the third quarter. He was stripped by Foster and Jay Richardson recovered for New Orleans at midfield.
Kansas City got the ball right back, however, when Tysyn Hartman intercepted McCown.
McCown, who is competing with Seneca Wallace to back up Brees, was 18 of 28 for 216 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Wallace did not play because of a recent groin injury.
Daniel was 6 of 10 for 42 yards and was sacked twice.