5 players who helped themselves against Houston:
1. Receiver Andy Tanner: Two touchdown receptions never hurt, and Tanner showed a nose for the end zone on his 8-yarder in the third quarter, and fantastic hands on his 15-yarder in the fourth. We already know the staff likes him – he was on the practice squad for parts of the 2010-12 seasons, and Coach Sean Payton always is complimentary of him. But he seemed to have fallen behind in the race to be the Saints’ fifth receiver (the first four being Marques Colston, Lance Moore, Kenny Stills and Nick Toon). Tanner (three catches for 33 yards vs. the Texans) gave coaches something to think about.
2. Receiver Preston Parker: He’s the guy who, until Tanner’s performance against the Texans on Sunday, looked to have a pretty good grip on the No. 5 receiver spot. And, actually, he didn’t do anything to hurt his standing; Tanner was just that good. However, we know Parker can catch (he led the team with six receptions and two receiving touchdowns in the preseason before Sunday) and against Houston, he also showed his return ability by taking back the second-half kickoff 52 yards, to give the Saints a short field en route to a touchdown drive. Special teams play might give Parker the edge over Tanner if everything else is fairly equal.
3. Defensive end Glenn Foster: Foster isn’t helping himself to a roster spot. That looks like a done deal. Rather, he’s helping himself to a spot in the defensive line rotation, according to Payton. Not bad for an undrafted rookie. The Saints unearth a gem or two like Foster in every rookie class and so far this year, you could make a case that he’s been as impressive defensively as Stills has been offensively. Foster leads the team with four sacks (he had one Sunday) and has been a factor in every preseason game.
4. Running back Travaris Cadet: Cadet bounced back from a horrible performance against Oakland (two fumbles) to play solid against the Texans. Good thing, because Khiry Robinson is breathing down his neck for that fourth running back spot, a jack-of-all-trades who can run, catch and play special teams. The question is, How much damage had he done to himself against Oakland? And did he do enough against the Texans (four carries for 16 yards, three receptions for 37 yards) to wipe that taste out of coaches’ mouths?
5. Guard Tim Lelito: Another undrafted rookie, he was in the lineup on the Saints’ first scoring drive, a three-play, 80-yard zip in the second quarter. He’d replaced starter Eric Olsen at the time (Olsen started for the resting Jahri Evans) and Lelito didn’t look overwhelmed. He may be a practice squad candidate.