There's no difficulty in locating several standout performers for the New Orleans Saints in their 42-34 loss to Arizona on Thursday night at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. The issue is that the players for the Saints (2-5) would much rather have them come in triumph than in defeat.
OFFENSE: Everyone said Chris Olave didn't practice like a rookie and they didn't expect him to play like a rookie. They were right on both counts. The receiver returned to the field after missing almost all of the previous six quarters due to a concussion, and picked up where he left off with seven catches for 106 yards. The Saints got a good one in Olave, who understands how to find the open spots in a zone and how to beat man-to-man coverage. His return helped the offense ring up 494 yards, and he's having to carry a little bit more of the load than expected with Michael Thomas and Jarvis Landry sidelined with injuries. He carries it well.
DEFENSE: If defensive end Cameron Jordan is slowing down, it's not showing. He added another sack to his career total, along with two tackles for loss, a quarterback hit and six tackles, against one of the most elusive quarterbacks in the NFL (Arizona's Kyler Murray). To a man, the defense says it needs to step up and play better and force turnovers, and that's all true. But Jordan is holding down his end on the defensive line; he has 4.5 sacks this season, three in the last three games, as he inches toward the all-time franchise lead for career sacks.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Not much to choose from, save this: Wil Lutz made two more field goals and has been successful on all six attempts in the last two games. That's significant because at some point, the Saints are going to need him to kick a game-winner and right now, he's in a really good groove.