New Orleans Saints vs. Houston Texans: Who we’re watching
By John Hendrix
Normally, an 0-2 start would be cause for concern. For the New Orleans Saints, it’s difficult to say that anyone is hitting the panic button. Sure, you would like to put together victories at the end of the day, but you can’t help but think of the positives that have come out of the first two preseason contests.
Up until this point, you’ve likely seen a mixture of good, bad, and ugly. Now comes the point where it all matters. The third preseason game, which is commonly known as the ‘dress rehearsal’ game for most teams, typically features the starters for at least a full half of football and the main backups. With that being said, I’m giving you my five players that I’m keeping tabs on as the game progresses.
I think Joe Morgan has a lot to prove in this game. I am seeing more final roster projections that tend to leave him out of the mix, but I completely disagree. I’ve changed my tune on carrying six wide receivers this year, as I don’t believe there’s a solid option or strong case for it. Morgan is familiar with Payton’s offensive attack, and he can be more than a one-dimensional deep threat. Morgan had a really bad drop last week against the Patriots, but did register 2 catches for 13 yards. Morgan also has Josh Morgan and Seantavius Jones nipping at his heels, so a strong performance could solidify Morgan’s place on the roster.
Brandon Coleman didn’t have the type of showing everyone would have hoped for last week. His dropped pass in the end zone would have made everyone a believer, and stamped his final spot on the squad. While I believe Coleman is going to be on the final 53-man roster, you want to see him do well with Drew Brees. Coleman provided some excellent blocking last week, which is also something you should keep an eye on with the first team. I’m not saying that Coleman has to have a touchdown against the Texans, but I’d like to see him catch a few targets thrown his way.
Some are concerned that a lack of sacks through two preseason games is cause for concern, and that the New Orleans Saints need more from their younger group of interior defensive linemen. However, I’d implore you to look past that. Tyeler Davison is one great example of why sacks aren’t everything. The Fresno State product has drawn many double teams while being on the field, and has been a key element in run stopping. Davison, or ‘Rhino’, has locked up a roster spot in my opinion. Currently, Davison’s seen the third most snaps on defense with 88.
Stanley Jean-Baptiste is a strong nominee for the most improved player year over year (Brandon Coleman likely holds the award, in my opinion). Jean-Baptiste had a good first outing against the Ravens, but struggled against the Patriots. He was subject to a questionable pass interference call in that game, but the good news is that he’s finding himself in position to make plays. We’re not exactly sure what cornerbacks will suit up against the Texans in terms of starters like Delvin Breaux, Keenan Lewis, and Brandon Browner, so Jean-Baptiste may find himself with more work Sunday.
Kyle Wilson is playing for a roster spot. The ex-Jets cornerback saw extensive work against the Patriots, churning in a team high 62 total snaps. Up until that game, Wilson had been very underwhelming. Rookie Damian Swann and newcomer Delvin Breaux have been outplaying Wilson, and clearly he got the message. My latest roster projection has Wilson out of the picture, and the Saints carrying five cornerbacks. I believe that could change, but Wilson is going to need to put together two ‘games of his life’ to stay on the final roster.
Max Unger has been a tremendous addition for the Saints, and it’s evident in his help with pocket protection and lane opening. Assuming the Texans provide their starters on defense, I’m most interested in seeing how Unger matches up against nose tackle Vince Wilfork. More importantly, I want to see how effective the Saints are at running the ball in the middle with a mammoth presence like Wilfork in the middle.
Which player(s) are you keeping an eye out for on Saturday when the New Orleans Saints suit up against the Houston Texans?