Quick Takes: Saints defense continues to impress in shutout of Texans

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NEW ORLEANS – With heavy hearts and troubled minds, the Houston Texans took the field against the New Orleans Saints in the third preseason game for both teams Saturday night in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

New Orleans Saints fans can certainly relate to what the Texans, residents of Houston and southeast Texas are enduring.

Drew Brees and all projected Saints starters were on the field, with the exception of Ryan Ramczyk, for the first series for the first time in this preseason. Bryce Harris got the start at left tackle.

What followed was a pedestrian offensive effort that had its moments while the defense continued to be the story of the preseason for the Saints.

Here are my quick takes plus NFL highlights of the Saints’ 13-0 win over Houston:

**On the first play from scrimmage, Ted Ginn Jr. raced 24 yards, showing great speed and elusiveness in the process. Mark Ingram was flagged for an illegal block in the back but the run certainly endeared Ginn to Saints fans after his dropped touchdown a week ago in Carson.

**The Titans opened with a no-huddle offense on the first series and made one first down. Cameron Jordan knocked down a Tom Savage pass.

**Adrian Peterson made his debut on the second series and caught a screen pass for a loss of a yard before rushing for two yards and his name drew an applause from the fans on hand.

**Brees drove the Saints 69 yards in 13 plays before the drive stalled and Wil Lutz booted a 26-yard field goal to make it 3-0 with 4:20 to play in the first quarter. Brees completed seven straight passes at one point on the drive, including a 13-yard connection with Brandon Coleman.

**Brees finished 11-of-15 for 76 yards while Chase Daniel was 9-of-12 for 108 yards.

**Sheldon Rankins closed the first quarter with a tackle for a four-yard loss of Tyler Ervin. Ranks showed the quickness and explosiveness the Saints were looking for when they drafted him in the first round in 2016. Rankins later batted down a Savage pass.

**The Saints held Houston to just one first down and 23 yards in the first quarter. New Orleans had the ball for 10:25 of the quarter.

**Marshon Lattimore broke up a deep pass attempt from Savage to Jaelen Strong. On the next play, Lattimore made a nice tackle in space on Dres Anderson, stopping him well short of a first down. The two plays in succession are what the Saints drafted Lattimore for.

**Rookie first-round draft pick Deshaun Watson replaced Savage at quarterback with 3:45 to play in the first half.

**P.J. Williams continues to shine. Williams is a good tackler and he has shown good coverage skills in man coverage. He will start.

**Chase Daniel took over at quarterback with 1:54 to play in the first half. It was a bit surprising that the Saints did not finish the first half with Brees in a two-minute drill.

**Trey Hendrickson batted down a pass on the final series of the first half.

**Darryl Tapp had a sack of Watson early in the third quarter to help his cause.

**Daniel made his best throw of the game, and perhaps the preseason, on a 24-yard bullet to Tommylee Lewis, who continues to show well. Lewis will be very hard to get rid of.

**Daniel then hit Brandon Coleman for 34 yards to the Houston 14 on another nice throw.

**Darius Victor, who has been impressive in the preseason, finished a very nice drive with a three-yard touchdown run to make it 10-0 with 3:02 to play in the third quarter. Daniel engineered a 10 play, 84-yard drive, taking 4:51 off the clock. Victor’s star faded a bit when he fumbled one away late in the fourth quarter.

**Nate Stupar, who is battling for a spot at linebacker, went down in the third quarter with a right leg injury.

**Damian Swann came up with a big interception on a tipped pass off of Wendall Williams. It is the kind of play that Swann needs to have a shot to stick.

**Garrett Grayson came in for the final series of the third quarter in relief of Daniel.

**Rafael Bush helped himself with a sack of Watson in the fourth quarter. Bush came off the right edge and was untouched.

**Grayson made a perfect deep throw to Lewis, who simply let it go through his hands.

**Al-Quadin Muhammad continued his excellent preseason with a fourth quarter sack of Brandon Weeden. Muhammad has played too well to let go. It looks to me like every Saints draft pick in 2017 will make the final roster.

**Jerry Ugokwe committed consecutive penalties in the fourth quarter, including a holding call and an illegal formation infraction.

**Lutz put the finishing touches on the night splitting the uprights with a 48-yard field goal with plenty of room to spare to make it 13-0 with 3:52 to play.

**Ken Crawley broke up a deep ball in the end zone. He had good coverage and displayed good ball awareness.

**Adam Bighill continued his fine preseason with a sack of Brandon Weeden to clinch the win. Bighill plays very hard and has some coverage skills.

It is clear that the Saints are deep at running back and have a tough cut coming. Despite his drop, Lewis has made his case as the fifth receiver while Coleman looks like the fourth guy.

As mentioned, it appears every draft pick this year will make the team. The prospects for Stephone Anthony are looking dimmer, though Manti Te’o left the game with what appeared to be a shoulder stinger.

The same is true of Travaris Cadet, who was not visible and has faded into the background. It is doubtful that he will stick.

The team is not likely to keep a third quarterback, at least not one currently on the roster and they may very well search the waiver wire for a tackle as well. How soon will Ramczyk return? When will Terron Armstead be back?

While Max Unger did not play, sources tell CrescentCitySports.com that he will be ready to roll for the season opener at Minnesota.

The Texans are scheduled to host Dallas Thursday night in Houston but that is pending, based on the developments of Hurricane Harvey. Instead of flying to Houston after the game, the team flew to Dallas. The Cowboys have offered to host the preseason finale if circumstances warrant

The Saints close out the preseason at home against Baltimore Thursday night.

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