1. Reps or Rest: It's always interesting to see for the final preseason game who dresses out, plays or sits. We were told Friday after the final practice in the Caesars Superdome from Saints Coach Dennis Allen that he would be resting most of the starters, including quarterback Derek Carr. Notable players who WERE dressed for the game Sunday night, receiver Rashid Shaheed (who came back from a groin injury to practice this week), tight end Jimmy Graham (who had a touchdown reception), running back Kendre Miller, guard Andrus Peat, linebacker Jaylon Smith, defensive end Tanoh Kpassagnon, defensive tackle Bryan Bresee, and defensive end Payton Turner.
2. Oh Jimmy: When Graham re-signed with the Saints after eight years with three other teams, Saints fans were hoping he could recapture at least some of the magic they witnessed in Graham's first four years (2011-2014) in the NFL, which were some of the most productive in the history of the league for his position. On Sunday night in the Caesars Superdome, at least for a brief period, the old Jimmy was back. Graham would end the night with three receptions for 34 yards and a touchdown. As the Saints were driving toward their only touchdown of the first half, Graham stood center stage. On first-and-10 from the Texans' 36-yard line, quarterback Jameis Winston saw the favorable matchup with Graham against linebacker Chris Harris. Winston delivered the perfect delivery for Graham's bread-and- butter catch, the back shoulder. Graham came down with it easily at the Houston 11-yard line, much to the delight of everyone in the stands, especially those in the Dave Dixon Street end zone, as Graham got them fired up. The first quarter ended, and two plays later on third-and-two fom the Texan 3-yard line, Winston found Graham again, this time short right in the Poydras Street end zone, as Jimmy big manned 6-foot cornerback Ka'dar Hollman for the touchdown. Now the question was would Graham dunk the football over the crossbar (now which would incurring a flag), instead, Graham faked the dunk and threw the ball against the back padding in front of the field level end zone suites, sending the fans into another frenzy.
3. Play of the Day: With the Saints trailing 10-7 in the third quarter, quarterback Jake Haener would display some of the attributes that got him to the NFL out of Fresno State. On third-and-six from the Saints' 45-yard line, Haener dropped back to pass. Finding all receivers covered, the field suddenly opened for the rookie. Haener sprinted up the middle and began to veer toward the right sideline before ultimately being shoved out of bounds rather forcefully by cornerback Cameron Dantzler at the Houston 29-yard line, so much so Haener ran through the huge Gatorade bucket on the Texans' sideline and toppled the entire contraption. Undaunted, Haener quickly popped up and ran back to the huddle. That play at the time made Haener the team's leading rusher. He also recorded the second fastest mph on the Saints for the evening at a speedy 18.6 on the run. Eventually, the scramble would lead to points as kicker Blake Grupe converted on a 38-yard field as the Saints tied the score at 10.
Check out the game action from the New Orleans Saints game against the Houston Texans in Week 3 of the 2023 NFL Preseason.