Saints Preseason Game 1 Stock Report: Who’s hot and who’s not

Saints (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Saints (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /

The New Orleans Saints returned to action in their first preseason game this past weekend against the Houston Texans.  Many of the top players for the Saints were held out as a precautionary measure but this allowed for other players to get valuable playing time in an attempt to make the Saints roster or even practice squad.

Given the fact that this year there are only three preseason games, every rep counts as we build up to formulate this year’s Saints squad in the city and region’s quest for a second Super Bowl. Let’s take a look at who’s hot and who’s not after their first preseason game.

Saints Preseason Game 1 Stock Report: Andy Dalton – HOT

It was only one drive…but boy was it impressive.  After last year’s debacle of Trevor Siemian and Ian Book trying to lead the Saints to victory post-Jameis injury, the Saints now have a bonafide backup quarterback in case Winston gets injured again.  Dalton went 5-5 for 51 yards and a touchdown on the opening drive and seemed to have full command of the Saints’ offense in his brief appearance.

Saints Preseason Game 1 Stock Report: Ian Book – NOT

Many Saints fans and media gave Ian Book a pass last year when he was forced to start with a COVID-depleted lineup against the Miami Dolphins.  Book, a former Notre Dame quarterback who was someone Sean Payton coveted in last year’s draft, had several miscues in the preseason game versus the Texans.

On his initial drive, he airmailed a pass to Juwan Johnson leading to an interception, and later fumbled a snap coming out from center.  With such a deep Saints roster at other positions and the signing of Andy Dalton, it makes sense to question whether Book at this point is worth a roster spot or if running him through waivers to join the practice squad is the more prudent option.

Saints Preseason Game 1 Stock Report: Paulson Adebo – HOT

New Orleans Saints
Paulson Adebo, New Orleans Saints (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /

Last year at this time, Saints fans’ biggest concern was the cornerback position opposite star Marshon Lattimore.  The Saints traded for veteran cornerback Bradley Roby to shore up the position before last year’s draft day trade for Stanford cornerback Paulson Adebo.

Adebo, in his brief appearance against the Texans, locked up the Texans wide receivers and has the look of another Saints draft-day gem.  With Roby and rookie Alontae Taylor in addition to versatile defensive back P.J. Williams, the Saints now have one of the deeper cornerback rooms in the entire league.

Saints Preseason Game 1 Stock Report: Trevor Penning – NOT

James Hurst got the start against the Texans in the first preseason game but Penning got several reps and had the ups and downs that would be expected from a small school offensive lineman in his first real NFL action.  Penning obviously has the size, power, and aggression to man the left tackle position for years for the Saints.

However, one thing that stood out was Penning was beaten several times on inside rush moves, including one that led to a quarterback sack.  Hopefully, this is something that veteran New Orleans offensive line coach Doug Marrone can use as Penning prepares for a prominent role in the upcoming Saints season.

Saints Preseason Game 1 Stock Report: Chase Hansen – HOT

With the sudden retirement of veteran Kiko Alonso and the recent injury to fifth-round selection D’Marco Jackson, linebacker depth has become an issue for this year’s Saints team.  Recent signee Chase Hansen flashed on several plays in his limited action against the Texans.

On the first series, Hansen shot the gap on a run play for one of his two tackles for losses,  In addition, Hansen was later in position for a tipped-ball interception and return.  Hansen, who previously was with the Saints, also provides value on special teams and easily could crack the 53-man roster with performances such as in the first preseason game.

Saints Preseason Game 1 Stock Report: Tre’Quan Smith – NOT

New Orleans Saints
Tre’Quan Smith, New Orleans Saints (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

Wide receiver is a position that went from one of extreme need last year to extreme luxury this year.  The draft selection of Ohio State’s Chris Olave combined with the bargain signing of Jarvis Landry and the return to health of Michael Thomas has given the Saints three high-end receivers for this upcoming season.

The emergence last year of Marques Calloway and the special teams and versatility of Deonte Harty already gives the Saints five quality WR for this upcoming season.  In addition, the Saints have several young talented wide receivers who could be part of this year’s practice squad, including Kirk Merritt, Rashid Shaheed, and Dai-Jean Dixon.

Smith, who only played a handful of snaps against the Texans, dropped an easily catchable touchdown pass from Ian Book in the second quarter.  Plays such as these could make the Saints rethink keeping six receivers on the active roster come cutdown day.

Saints Preseason Game 1 Stock Report: Justin Evans – HOT

Justin Evans was not an offseason signing that caught the attention of many Saints fans.  Evans, however, was a second-round draft pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 2017 NFL Draft.  Some fans will remember his fumble recovery and return for a TD in the 2018 Saints’ 48-40 loss to the Bucs.

Evans played a prominent role for the Buccaneers’ secondary unto a September 2019 Achilles injury forced him out of action for essentially the following two seasons.  Now healthy, Evans has impressed in camp and showed his ball-hawking skills with a 3rd quarter interception of Texans QB Jeff Driskell.

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With starters Tyrann Mathieu and Marcus Maye entrenched as starters and CJ Gardner Johnson serving primarily a nickel back role, Evans could provide much-needed safety depth on what is expected to be a dominant Saints defense under new head coach Dennis Allen.