Five things to know from Saints-Texans

The Houston Texans wanted to establish their running game

against the New Orleans Saints after failing to do so in their

previous two preseason games.

Ben Tate helped them do just that.

Tate ran for 74 yards and a score before halftime filling in for

Arian Foster, in the Texans’ 31-23 loss to the Saints on

Sunday.

”He looked very good,” coach Gary Kubiak said. ”He’s been our

one healthy veteran back. I think Ben’s ready. I think he’s going

to have a really good year.”

Foster returned to practice this week for the first time since

May after dealing with calf and back injuries, but didn’t play.

Kubiak has said that Foster could start in Houston’s opener Sept. 9

without getting a preseason snap.

”It was important for us going into this game to get the

running game going and feel good about it going into San Diego,”

quarterback Matt Schaub said of Houston’s opener.

Tate brushed off the notion that the right side of Houston’s

offensive line is going to be a weak spot for the team by asking:

`did you see us run today,’ when questioned about it.

He wanted to use Sunday’s game to show that he’s ready for the

season.

”I was definitely out to prove a point tonight and I feel like

I got my point across,” he said.

Here are five things we learned about the Saints and Texans on

Sunday:

1. ANDRE’S STILL GOT IT: Houston’s Andre Johnson answered

critics who questioned whether the 32-year-old may have lost a step

by piling up 131 yards receiving in the first half on Sunday.

Johnson didn’t play in the preseason opener and had less than a

quarter of work last week. Against New Orleans, he grabbed seven of

the eight passes thrown to him, highlighted by a 39-yard reception.

”When we sit down and game plan I try to figure out ways to get

Andre the ball,” Kubiak said. ”It’s a compliment to the other

guys that Andre’s able to get the ball so much.”

2. STILLS IS STEADY: New Orleans rookie Kenny Stills, a

fifth-round pick out of Oklahoma, continued to impress with Marques

Colston still sitting out with a left foot injury. Stills had four

receptions for 64 yards and a touchdown last week and kept up his

steady work with two receptions for 54 yards and another score on

Sunday. ”I’m getting more comfortable and getting more used to

being out there,” he said. ”It’s about playing football and

having fun, and that’s really all it is.”

3. BULLOCK’S READY: Houston’s Randy Bullock, who missed all of

his rookie season last year with a groin injury, has shown that

he’s ready to take over the kicking duties for the Texans. Bullock

kicked field goals of 48, 55 and 21 yards on Sunday after hitting

from 46 yards last week and 48 yards in the first preseason game.

”Every week he’s gaining confidence as a young kicker in this

league,” Kubiak said. ”Really excited to see his progress.”

4. THEY CAN CATCH, TOO: The New Orleans running backs combined

for nine receptions for 143 yards on Sunday. The most notable

reception by a running back came when Drew Brees found Pierre

Thomas on a short pass and linebacker Joe Mays was there to make

the tackle, but Thomas wriggled free and dashed for a 51-yard

touchdown. The Saints got that drive going on another catch and run

when Brees finessed a short floater to Mark Ingram which he turned

into a 29-yard gain. ”We got guys who can run good routes and make

the defender miss,” Thomas said. ”We work on that so much in

practice.”

5. STILL NECK AND NECK: Sunday’s game did little to provide a

resolution in the competition for Schaub’s backup. T.J. Yates came

in after Schaub and was seven of nine for 73 yards and a touchdown.

Case Keenum finished the game and was 10 of 14 for 79 yards.

They’ll get another chance to try to impress Kubiak on Thursday

against Dallas with Schaub expected to sit out. ”I think T.J. has

answered a challenge,” Kubiak said. ”He’s been pushed and it’s

made him better as a player. It continues to be a very difficult

decision.”