The New Orleans Saints fell short to the Houston Texans on Sunday night, losing their final preseason game by a margin if 17-13; but not for lack of trying. The efforts of some peak performers deserve recognition. We’re highlighting the leaders in passing, rushing, receiving, defense, and special teams from the matchup:
Haener posted the Saints’ longest run of the day on a 26-yard scramble, ending the game with 32 rushing yards in total; the same number as rookie running back Ellis Merriweather, who gained 32 yards on 8 attempts.
Defensive tackle Bryan Bresee only tallied a single quarterback hit and tackle in this game, but that goes to show how far stats have to go in reflecting the work players like him do in the trenches. Bresee was unblockable at times and showed some advanced pass-rush moves, including an impressive spin move to stop a Houston drive cold. He’s a playmaker even if the box score doesn’t reflect it.
Linebacker Nephi Sewell led the team with 7 tackles (5 solo), while veteran teammate Jaylon Smith was the only Saints defender with multiple tackles for loss.
Another rookie defensive lineman, Isaiah Foskey, generated a sack, quarterback hit, a tackle for loss, and a few other stops of his own. He’s gotten better each week.
Wide receiver Jontre Kirklin saw his first extended snaps in the return game this summer, bringing out two kickoffs for returns of 27 and 20 yards. He also field two punts for a 9-yard gain and another keeper that was stopped where he caught it. It’s maybe too late to push Lynn Bowden Jr. for that job but it’s good to have this on his resume.
In the kicking game, Wil Lutz made his lone extra point attempt before giving way to Blake Grupe, and for the most part the rookie impressed. He nailed a 50-yard field goal, his longest try yet, but when asked to attempt a 60-yarder he pushed the ball too far to the right despite going the distance. Grupe didn’t lose the kicker competition on that field goal try but a successful kick would have been really big for him.
As for the punters: Blake Gillikin punted 5 times, with his first try falling into the end zone for a touchback. After that he dropped 3 punts inside Houston’s 20-yard line, though the returner made up lost ground once. When Lou Hedley stepped in to try, he punted twice and landed one inside the Houston 20 — though he put enough hang time on his kicks to prevent a Texans return either time.