Saints rally for preseason win over Texans
AUG 25, 2013 8:30p ET
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.