The New Orleans Saints lost to the Houston Texans in their 2022 preseason opener, but what is it that people always say?
It’s just preseason. ‘Tis the season of hilariously bad takes and predictions that don’t age well and extrapolated attempts to judge player performances. We’d be saying this even if the Saints won, but they unfortunately fell short in a 17-13 loss.
For those on the bubble or for those vying for starting snaps, preseason nonetheless serves as a golden opportunity to impress coaches, and players still adopt an uber-competitive mentality during the month of August. No one likes losing.
Here are three Saints players who upped their stock in the preseason opener against the Texans.
Before the preseason opener, James Hurst was already making a strong case for himself as the Saints’ starting left tackle. Now, that job is all but his.
Hurst got limited reps against the Texans but looked like far more of a consistent tackle compared to 2022 first-rounder Trevor Penning. While Penning made rookie mistakes (pun intended) against the Texans’ reserve defensive linemen, Hurst’s experience and familiarity on the line proved why he deserves the starting position.
Penning will get more time to develop in the system, but for now, pencil Hurst in as the team’s go-to left tackle in the 2022 season.
Who would’ve expected Dai’Jean Dixon to lead the Saints’ receiving corps in the preseason opener?
Dixon posted three catches for 33 yards in an impressive performance that should move him up the depth chart. The undrafted free agent has been described as a “big-bodied receiver who has enough long speed and overall athleticism and is a comfortable catcher,” and he certainly showcased his size and pass-catching abilities on Saturday night.
Last year, Dixon’s preseason play would have made him a near-lock for the Saints roster, but this year’s wide receiver battle is virtually impossible to predict. Behind the team’s top three wideouts, Dixon is competing against equally unproven receivers in Rashid Shaheed and Kirk Merritt, to name a few. Those WR4, WR5, and WR6 jobs are up for grabs, and Dixon gets the ever-so-slight edge after NOLA’s first preseason game.
Linebacker Chase Hansen was easily the standout of the preseason opener, and despite our attempt to avoid making hasty predictions, we think Hansen has already won a roster spot for 2022.
Hansen led the Saints with six tackles, a pass deflection, and an interception, and he looked as comfortable in the defense as we’ve ever seen him. New Orleans’ linebacker unit suffered a blow with Kwon Alexander’s offseason departure, and the majority of the Saints’ backup linebackers are young and inexperienced: Zack Baun, Nephi Sewell, Isaiah Pryor, and Hansen.
Former Vikings linebacker Eric Wilson also gets a nod for his stalwart performance against Houston, but Hansen can take home the award for making the most game-changing plays of the night.
One preseason game down, two to go. Let’s see if these three studs can maintain their dominant streak into Week 1.