Winners and losers from New Orleans Saints 2022 preseason opener

Leigh Oleszczak
New Orleans Saints quarterback Andy Dalton -Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
New Orleans Saints quarterback Andy Dalton -Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports /
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The New Orleans Saints opened up their preseason against the Houston Texans. Who were the winners and losers from the opener? 

In the New Orleans Saints preseason opener against the Houston Texans, we learned a lot about the black and gold. It was a fast start for both the defense and the offense, as the defense forced the Texans’ offense to go three-and-out while the offense marched right down the field and scored.

Oh, and both sides of the ball managed to impress despite a majority of the starters not suiting up. The guys who did play made sure to show what they could do. It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows for the Saints though, as some players had a tough showing on Saturday night.

With all of that said, let’s take a look at the winners and losers from Saturday’s game. We’ll get the negativity out of the way and start with the losers.

All game stats courtesy of ESPN

Losers

Ian Book

The second-year quarterback entered the game early on and did not look good. On his first offensive series, the Notre Dame product threw an interception while targeting a wide-open Juwan Johnson. The Texans went on to score a field goal on the drive.

On the very next possession, Book fumbled the snap and the Texans recovered. With Book not a guarantee to make the team, this was a time for him to step up and show that last year’s Monday Night Football debacle against the Dolphins was a fluke. He didn’t do that on Saturday.

DaMarcus Fields

When the Texans found the end zone for the first time on Saturday, it was because the UDFA out of Texas Tech was turned around on the play and allowed Jalen Camp to skate into the end zone. Fields already has a tough task ahead of him when it comes to making the roster and this didn’t help his cause. He did tip a pass in the second half that led to an interception, however.

Vincent Gray

Another UDFA rookie vying for a spot on the roster is Vincent Gray and he didn’t do a good job of showing that he belonged on the final 53-man roster. Gray had a costly personal foul that eventually led to the Texans scoring a touchdown and was also just getting burned throughout most of the evening. Not a good look for a player desperately trying to prove he belongs on this team.

Tre’Quan Smith

Book and the offense finally got something going midway through the second quarter but, unfortunately, Smith couldn’t come down with a ball that he absolutely should have caught. It forced NOLA to kick the field goal and for someone like Smith who needs to show something this summer to make the team, it was a brutal miss.

Winners

Andy Dalton

With Jameis Winston’s injured foot, it was smart for the Saints to hold him out of the preseason opener. We got to see a lot of Andy Dalton this past week and he played the first offensive series with tremendous results.

Dalton went 5-for-5 on the drive and threw for 51 yards with the drive ending in a 9-yard touchdown to Dwayne Washington. The Red Rifle looked sharp on the drive, connecting with four different players and proving that he can be a nice replacement if Winston has to miss any time this year for whatever reason.

Paulson Adebo

What a surprise, right? Paulson Adebo has been the star in training camp this summer so it’s not like it was shocking to see the second-year cornerback show off in the preseason opener. Adebo’s highlight was when he was able to force OPI in the first quarter. He’s looking like a star.

Chase Hansen

The Saints defense took the field first and Hansen, who just joined the team a week ago, had a nice tackle for loss on the very first play. Later on, after exiting the game with what appeared to be an injury, he returned to the field and immediately picked off the Texans and had a nice return as well.

For a team that is banged up at linebacker, Hansen is doing everything he needs to do to make the team.

Tony Jones Jr.

Once again, we saw the preseason star do his thing. Last year, Jones fought his way onto the roster with a strong preseason performance and he’s off to a promising start this year as well. While Jones wasn’t the featured back, he had seven carries for 27 yards and averaged 3.9 yards per carry. He needs to continue this kind of production to sneak onto the roster.

James Hurst

This isn’t necessarily because Hurst was a superstar during his one series but rather because Trevor Penning struggled a bit, as expected. I didn’t list Penning with the losers this week because there was some good from him but this performance showed that the gap between him and Hurst is bigger than a lot of us expected.

Dai’Jean Dixon

In the third quarter when most fans had checked out and moved on with their Saturday night plans, UDFA rookie Dai’Jean Dixon was making the most of his opportunities. Dixon was a favorite target of Ian Book’s in the second half and had two catches for 29 yards, including a 17-yard gem on 3rd-and-long.

Justin Evans

It could be a tough climb for Evans to make the 53-man roster but he had a diving interception in the third quarter that could help his chances of making the team as a depth piece. It certainly doesn’t hurt his chances.

I mentioned how I didn’t put Trevor Penning on the losers list because there were certainly aspects from his debut that I liked. He had some great blocks at times but there were also some rough series for him. He’ll hopefully learn from those.

I almost included Abram Smith in the winners section but he coughed up the football near the end zone and that ultimately removed his name from the list. He’ll have to show that he can take care of the football if he wants to make the team.

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