Saints rally for preseason win over Texans

The New Orleans Saints are now 3-0 in the preseason for the first time
since 2009, when they went on to win a Super Bowl. Sunday night’s game
versus the Houston Texans had highs and lows for New Orleans. After a
bumpy start, the Black and Gold discovered its rhythm and several
hopefuls found another opportunity to prove its worth.

Undrafted
rookie defensive end Glenn Foster notched his fourth quarterback sack
of this preseason, tying his college career total, and apparently
shoring up a roster spot.

“He has been a pleasant surprise,” head
coach Sean Payton said. “He’s going to compete, not just to make this
team. He’s going to compete for playing time.”

Several teams
courted Foster after the Draft, but Payton’s personal phone calls – and
reputation for taking a chance on undrafted players – convinced Foster
that New Orleans was an ideal landing spot. Payton told the Big Ten
product about a fellow Illinois product who started as a long shot and
is now a go-to running back for the Saints.

“I talked to Coach
Payton, and he told me that I had a legitimate shot at making the team
as a free agent,” Foster said. “Pierre Thomas is from Illinois, a free
agent. He’s still with the team. So I felt confident that I will be able
to fit in this 3-4 defense.”

Foster’s explosives off the snap is
a big key to his success. Against the Texans, the 6-foot-4, 285 pound
end took down a big prize, starting quarterback Matt Schaub.

Meanwhile,
Foster’s inspiration, Pierre Thomas, saw his first substantial
preseason action Sunday and proved he’s still got that special touch
that propelled him from an unknown into invaluable. Against the Texans,
Thomas unexpectedly lined up as a slot receiver, caught a short pass
from quarterback Drew Brees and turned it into a 51-yard touchdown.
Thomas also carried four times, averaging 4.8 yards a carry.

Payton cites that touchdown as the element the Saints needed to snap out of their early funk.
“I
think that one play to Pierre kind of sparked us a little bit and all
of a sudden we were able to make a few plays,” Payton said.

Quarterback Drew Brees wouldn’t be surprised to find Thomas in the slot again on occasion in the future.

“Yeah,
he made a bid for that today with that,” Brees said. “It’s always nice
when you can throw a pass three yards and it becomes a 50-yard
touchdown. But credit to him, great individual effort, then obviously
with  Lance Moore blocking down field, it turns a very routine,
throw-and-catch into a touchdown. But it’s nice when you have those
types of playmakers who can do that for you.”

Veteran receiver
Marques Colston made the trip to Reliant Stadium and dressed, but did
not play, which left plenty of time for wide receiver hopefuls Andy
Tanner and Kenny Stills to boost their chances by producing touchdowns.

Stills
is the leading contender for the Saints No. 3 receiver position. He had
an impressive one-handed catch and a touchdown for a total of 54 yards,
while showing Houston cornerbacks Kareem Jackson and Johnathan Joseph
he deserves respect, rookie or not.

“It was just a double move. I
work on it all the time,” Stills said in reference to his touchdown
catch. “Got the corner kind of sitting on the outside and I was able to
get inside and the ball was there. Great protection. Great ball.”

Stills’
father is a big influence in his son’s life, and at times a tough
critic, especially after Stills’ hot and cold performance versus the
Kansas City Chiefs.

“I hope he has some positive things to say,”
Stills said when asked to predict his father’s reaction to Sunday’s
game. “You know, he always gives me a hard time. Always finds something.
Same with my mom. Same with my sister. So, everybody gives me a hard
time. They don’t want my head to get too big.”

Tanner, the player
running back Mark Ingram called “The man of the hour,” added to his
résumé by producing two touchdowns, his first ever in the NFL, and a
special teams tackle.