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John DeShazier: Five things to watch in Texans-Saints game

Teams play at 3 p.m. Sunday in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome

  1. Give props to the New Orleans Saints starting offensive line for the work it did against the New England Patriots. Tackles Terron Armsteadand Zach Strief, guards Jahri Evansand Tim Lelitoand center Max Ungerkept Drew Breesabout as clean as Brees could have hoped to be, and the quarterback was his usual lethal self under those conditions – 8 for 10 (with one drop) for 159 yards and two touchdowns, with no interceptions. That level of protection will be put to the test against Houston. Defensive lineman J.J. Wattcould be the best player in the league, regardless of position. He was the league's Defensive Player of the Year in 2014, when he had 20.5 sacks, five fumble recoveries, four forced fumbles, 10 passes defensed and an interception that he returned 80 yards for a touchdown. Watt could line up anywhere along the defensive line – he was named first-team All-Pro as a defensive end, and second-team All-Pro as a defensive tackle. So the line not only has to pay attention to him, but also must be cognizant of the teammates that benefit from Watt's presence and activity. Watt and his teammates may not play long, but they could be extremely disrupting during the time they have.
  1. The extent of Brandon Coleman'sgame production for the Saints is that he had five catches for 50 yards last year in preseason. We know he has a world of potential, but potential has to become production for the 6-foot-6, 225-pound receiver who is occupying the Saints' No. 3 receiver spot, behind Marques Colstonand Brandin Cooks. The drop of a pass from Brees in the end zone against the Patriots wasn't a great way to make an impression this preseason, but the Saints have confidence in the second-year player from Rutgers. Like the rest of the starters, he'll probably get his most extensive playing time in this preseason game. If he has opportunities, he simply has to take advantage of them.
  1. If you're cornerback Delvin Breaux, how do you keep down the anxiety? The New Orleans native is playing in the Superdome for the first time in at least 17 years, and he likely will be starting given that Brandon Brownerhasn't practiced since sustaining an injury in the preseason opener against Baltimore. A solid contingent of Saints receivers say that Breaux could be the strongest cornerback they've faced in training camp, and the former CFL All-Star admits that he likes to get his hands on receivers and play physical, man-to-man coverage. His coaches like that about him and though he still is learning other concepts – zone, formation variations – he quickly has shown that he belongs. His play will be worth tracking.
  1. Almost lost amid the hubbub over the offensive explosion against New England was the fact that defensively, the Saints starters forced three consecutive three-and-outs to open the game and posted some very encouraging numbers – 152 yards, 2 for 8 on third downs and seven points allowed. And the points allowed might have been three, or zero, if defensive end Bobby Richardsonhad been able to hold on to quarterback Jimmy Garoppolofor a sack; Garoppolo slipped free and threw a 24-yard touchdown pass with 14 seconds left in the half. Defensive end Cam Jordanand company did the job up front against the run, the secondary did the job in coverage and the Saints did a number on the Patriots. But the significance wanes if the starters can't post similarly positive numbers consistently.
  1. Keep an eye on the draft picks on defense because four could contribute significantly this season. Linebackers Stephone Anthonyand Hau Kikahahave started both preseason games at the Mike and Sam positions, respectively. Defensive tackle Tyeler Davisonhas seen a lot of snaps and has been impressive in training camp, and cornerback Damian Swannhas taken advantage of the opportunities he has been presented due to injury. It appears that all have adapted well and have earned the reps they've gotten.

The Saints held their final practice of 2015 Training Camp presented by Verizon at Tulane's Yulman Stadium on Friday, August 28, 2015. Photos by Alex Restrepo. (New Orleans Saints photos)

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