A 31-24 loss to Jacksonville on Thursday night at the Caesars Superdome obviously wasn't the result the New Orleans Saints wanted entering the mini-bye, but there were a few notable performances for the Saints (3-4) in their second consecutive loss.
OFFENSE: The Saints had a patchwork offensive line, with new starters at left tackle (Andrus Peat), left guard (Max Garcia) and right tackle (Cam Erving), but they made it work to the tune of 407 yards of offense, 112 of it rushing and one sack in 56 dropback attempts by quarterback Derek Carr. It wasn't perfect, but it was gritty and the line provided ample time and opportunity for the offense to be productive. Add running back Alvin Kamara in here, too: 29 touches for 153 yards was a large chunk of the Saints' offense. Kamara was the receiving threat (12 catches for 91 yards) that we're accustomed to seeing him be.
DEFENSE: Carl Granderson keeps making plays and that keeps making it difficult to overlook him. The defensive end had six tackles, a tackle for loss and a fumble recovery that was as much of a hustle play as anything the Saints had Thursday night. Officially, 20 yards downfield, after cornerback Paulson Adebo chased down Jaguars receiver Christian Kirk and stripped out the football, Granderson pounced on it to give New Orleans possession. He only has pressed the accelerator and played better since he signed a contract extension. And it's worth noting that linebacker Demario Davis played a full game on a short week after injuring his knee, which prevented him from practicing. The Saints' emotional leader and defensive captain had four tackles, including a solo stop for no gain on the game's first offensive play.
SPECIAL TEAMS: If you come up with a turnover on special teams, that's always a sparkle play. That's what cornerback Lonnie Johnson Jr. did in the first quarter, when Jacksonville cornerback Tyson Campbell barreled into punt returner Jamal Agnew while Agnew was attempting to field a punt. The ball struck Campbell, who was charged with a muff, and Johnson recovered at the Jacksonville 17-yard line. Six plays later, Blake Grupe's 23-yard field goal pulled the Saints to within 7-3.