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Observations from New Orleans Saints preseason opener

Quarterback Andy Dalton was spot-on in his debut with Saints

New Orleans Saints players in action during their 2022 Preseason Week 1 game against the Houston Texans.

1. Razor sharp Dalton: The first offensive drive for the New OrleansSaints could not have gone any better. A 10-play, 67 yard masterpiece that took 5:22 off the clock giving the Saints an early 7-0 lead. The drive was capped off by quarterback Andy Dalton's perfectly executed screen pass to running back Dwayne Washington for a 9-yard TD reception. The last time the Saints scored on their opening possession of preaseaon was in 2012 when Mark Ingram scored from one yard against the Arizona Cardinals. Four rushes by Dwayne Washington ( a run by Dalton) and Dalton going a perfect 5 for 5 on the drive including a 19-yard third down conversion to Marquez Callaway. Dalton showed in one drive what we have been watching the entirety of training camp. The Saints are in pretty good hands at quarterback in case something unfortunate would happen to Jameis Winston during the regular season. Exactly, as Coach Dennis Allen said a week ago, what they brought him in for. Needless to say, Allen "had seen enough" of the first team offensive line and Dalton, who took the rest of the night off after the touchdown.

2. Hansen makes a case: Linebacker depth has really been the only question mark as far as the defense has been concerned the last couple of weeks during Saints training camp. The team has brought in several linebackers to try and fill the void due to various injuries and departures to the position in the offseason. One such linebacker that resigned with the Saints on Aug. 8 was a familiar face in Chase Hansen. Undrafted out of Utah in 2019, Hansen has been on the Saints practice squad the last two seasons. On Saturday night in Houston, Hansen showed the coaching staff why bringing him back was a solid decision. Hansen played 24 snaps defensively including seven on special teams . Hansen recorded six total tackles, including two tackles for loss (TFL) and an interception. On the pick, (tipped by linebacker Eric Wilson) Hansen said postgame that's "one of those where I was just itching, ready to go…it was fun." This week of joint practices against Green Bay will be vital to Hansen, as the Saints continue to try and build depth opposite and behind mainstay Demario Davis. Nights like Saturday will go a long way for Chase's quest to make the 53-man roster.

3 Plays of the Night: Pretty simple here on Observations, but the Saint defense (which has been most of the story during camp) came up big, forcing three turnovers (all interceptions). The aforementioned Hansen pick, and subsequent 44-yard return set the Saints up for what would be a game tying field goal going into halftime. Late in the third quarter, Texans quarterback Jeff Driskel tried to test the coverage of Saints defensive back DeMarcus Fields on an out route intended for receiver Chad Beebe. Fields deflected the ball up in the air and fourth-year defensive back Justin Evans made the pick (down by contact) that again led to an eventual field goal, giving the Saints a 13-10 advantage early in the fourth quarter. With 4:20 left in the game, it appeared the Saints were going to seal it after an interception by defensive back Brian Allen on a deep right sideline route intended for Texans receiver Jalen Camp at the Saints' 40- yard line. The Saints bench erupted and the defense surrounded the newly signed (Aug. 11) cornerback with congratulatory pats on the back. If the Saints defense continues to force multiple turnovers as we saw Saturday night, it will continue to put the offense in position to put games away. We'll see you in Green Bay for our next Observations for the joint practices against the Packers on Tuesday and Wednesday.

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