The New Orleans Saints couldn't have asked, or received, much more than was delivered by the starting units in their preseason finale, a 27-10 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers on Friday night in the Caesars Superdome.
With quarterback Jameis Winston playing under game conditions for the first time since last Halloween, when he tore his left ACL in the seventh game of the 2021 regular season, New Orleans took the opening drive 75 yards on nine plays, and capped it with Mark Ingram II's 1-yard run to take a 7-0 lead. Winston completed all four pass attempts for 59 yards on the drive, including completions of 20 and 15 yards to Jarvis Landry, and 19 yards to rookie Chris Olave.
The defense then forced a three-and-out, ending on linebacker Demario Davis' 12-yard sack of Chase Daniel, and the offense again took off, this time behind quarterback Andy Dalton. Dalton helped engineer a nine-play, 62-yard touchdown drive that included 18- and 17-yard completions to Marquez Callaway and ended on a 2-yard run by Ingram, giving New Orleans a 14-0 lead.
When the first quarter ended, the Saints held sizable advantages in yards (152-44), first downs (11-1), and were 2 for 2 in the red zone while overcoming a pair of penalties, both committed on the first scoring drive.
Winston was among several Saints who made their preseason debuts: Running back Alvin Kamara had a pair of carries for 19 yards; Landry caught two passes for 35 yards; Davis had his sack, a tackle for loss, a quarterback hit and three tackles; and safety Tyrann Mathieu and defensive end Cameron Jordan each had a tackle.
And when the Saints went deeper into the bench, there also was production there.
Quarterback Ian Book (11 of 15 for 81 yards and a touchdown, seven carries for 50 yards) led three scoring drives, including his 9-yard touchdown pass to Kirk Merritt. Safety Justin Evans forced a fumble that Daniel Sorenson recovered for New Orleans. And linebacker Eric Wilson (six tackles) again displayed his ability to get to the ball.
The Saints, though, didn't escape the game totally unscathed. Coach Dennis Allen said rookie left tackle Trevor Penning suffered a toe injury, and Penning left the field on a cart, and receiver Tre'Quan Smith injured his shoulder (he walked to the locker room under his own power). Penning started the second and third preseason games in part due to an injury suffered by James Hurst, and played significant snaps in the first and second games.
Allen said the two would be further evaluated before a determination can be made as to their availability for the regular-season opener in Atlanta on Sept. 11 against the Falcons.
New Orleans Saints players in action during their 2022 Preseason Week 3 game against the Los Angeles Chargers.