On Saturday, the New Orleans Saints suffered an ugly loss to the Houston Texans. The offense looked bad and had trouble all game. But while there was plenty of negatives, a few players stood out and showed a little bit of what they can offer.
The Saints went through a rough 60 minutes against the Texans — only scoring nine points and turning the ball over three times.
This means the Saints are now 0-2 in this years preseason. But does the preseason really mean anything? You could make the argument that it’s just like practice – but with live hard hitting. Well, whatever you believe, it has given us a chance to see what some of the guys can do.
So today we identify 5 of the guys who really excelled versus the Texans, much unlike how the team did overall.
Dannell Ellerbe looks to be the New Orleans Saints starting weak side linebacker and against the Texans he showed why. He was all over the field, constantly going from sideline to sideline. He made plays at the line of scrimmage but also stuck with the receivers down the field.
Ellerbe is showing that when he is healthy, he possesses the qualities the Saints missed last year on defense. Game after game, the Saints got torched by tight ends and runningbacks because of the lack of athleticism at the linebacker spot.
The important thing for Ellerbe will now be to stay healthy. If he can stay on the field, he should be able to be a game changer for the Saints in 2016.
For the second straight week of preseason, TommyLee lewis impressed. He only caught the ball two times for 25 yards, but he made an impact on special teams. While Marcus Murphy fumbled the ball for the 2nd time in two weeks, Lewis showed he can catch and hold onto the ball.
Lewis was the punt and kick returner after Murphy’s fumble, and Sean Payton hinted after the game that he will get a lot of opportunities to become the starting returner
There is a tight battle going on for the final receiver spots between RJ Harris, Brandon Coleman and Lewis. So for Lewis to show that he can be a factor on special teams, it will be huge for his chances of making the final roster.
When Sheldon Rankins went down, we were all discussing what would happened now and how could they possibly replace him –well after Nick Fairley’s perfomance against the Texans, it looks like we can worry a bit less.
The former first round pick was constantly beating the offensive linemen and ended the game with a sack, four tackles and several hurries. Furthermore, according to Pro Football Focus, he was one of the best defensive tackles who played during the second week of preseason.
A very good sign for the Saints as they try to figure out how the rotation will look with Rankins out.
Fairley should command a lot of minutes with Rankins out and he showed exactly why against the Texans .
Vonn Bell showed a different kind of skill set than maybe most of us expected. He finished the game versus the Texans with a team high seven tackles. He also added a sack to his stat line and really showed he can line up closer to the line scrimmage than we may have first anticipated.
This should be really good going forward as the Saints now posses multiple safeties with different abilities. Bell can both be asked to cover the back and go up into the box. Vaccaro has mostly been a linebacker type safety so far, but he has apparently significantly improved his coverage skills.
Defensive coordinator Dennis Allen should be thrilled to see his new guy playing a sort-of hybrid role. Now he can line up the defense in several different ways to stay unpredictable and athletic at the same time.
P. J. Williams
Throughout camp, P. J. Williams has shown why the Saints used their third round pick on him. He hasn’t been flashy, but he has been steady and reliable, which is something you really want to see in your second-year cornerback.
P. J. looked impressive in the first game, but he really flashed against the Texans. He showed good coverage all game-long and ended up picking off Osweiler in the endzone in the second quarter.
Despite all the good things, Will Fuller did beat Williams on a go route to the endzone. He had decent coverage on the play, but Fuller managed to locate the ball.
Williams is playing well — he’s expected to be the starting corner opposite Delvin Breaux, in week one against the Oakland Raiders.