Following a strong 2-0 start to their preseason, including a 28-20 victory against the Oakland Raiders in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Friday night, the Saints will pack their bags to leave New Orleans for the first time in the preseason when they head to Reliant Stadium to face the Houston Texans in a nationally televised contest on Sunday afternoon.
The Saints and Texans will be no strangers to each other, as they have met in each preseason since 2008. The preseason series is tied 3-3, with the Saints having captured the contest in 2012 with a 34-27 win at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
The Saints made significant strides on offense, defense and special teams on Friday night against the Raiders, continuing the progress they have shown from three weeks of training camp practices. New Orleans scored on each of their first five drives with the starting offense, to rack up a 23-0 lead on Oakland. Defensively the first unit held the Raiders scoreless until their final drive of the half, while racking up five sacks, seven overall in the contest.
QB Drew Brees was almost flawless as he saw almost an entire half of work, completing 14-of-18 passes for 202 yards, a touchdown throw to WR Kenny Stills and a 131.9 passer rating. The Saints offensive line kept Brees‟ jersey clean in the first half, preventing the quarterback from getting sacked. Brees has excelled in the preseason, completing 21-of-28 passes (75.0%) for 267 yards with one touchdown and a 116.2 passer rating.
Defensively, the Saints first unit held their own against the Raiders, limiting them to 34 yards rushing and 3.8 yards per carry. ILB Ramon Humber received the start in the middle and posted a team-leading nine tackles (six solo), including a stop for no gain on fourth-and-one of Oakland RB Darren McFadden and also added a sack. S Roman Harper, DE Akiem Hicks, DE Cameron Jordan and OLB Will Smith also added takedowns.
On Special teams, K Garrett Hartley drilled four-of-four field goals, including a 53-yarder.
The Saints also enjoyed contributions from several other players in the second half who improved their training camp case for extensive playing time and regular season roster spots. Both Stills and Nick Toon, in the battle for the third receiver spot, excelled. Stills caught four passes for 64 yards with one touchdown and Toon had a spectacular 56-yard grab.
RB Khiry Robinson had 50 yards rushing and 28 receiving, as he now ranks second in the NFL with 145 yards from scrimmage in the preseason. Defensively, DE Glenn Foster finished with two sacks and S Jim Leonhard posted an interception. An undrafted free agent from Illinois, Foster is tied for the NFL preseason lead with three quarterback sacks.
The Saints will be facing a Texans squad that has captured the AFC South title the past two seasons and has an identical 2-0 preseason record to the Saints.