The New Orleans Saints have a lot of decisions to make on the defensive side of the ball before the regular season, and this Sunday is the final chance for some players to prove why they deserve a spot on the final roster.
After a solid outing last weekend, the Saints defense will look to shut down the Houston Texans offense and go undefeated in the 2023 preseason. We received word earlier this week that the Texans are expected to play their starters for ‘about two drives’ on Sunday. This means the Saints will face off against their first of potentially five rookie quarterbacks this season.
#Texans coach DeMeco Ryans announced the QB CJ Stroud would start again in their third preseason game. With an eye toward the season...— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) August 23, 2023
C.J. Stroud, like many of this year's rookie QBs, has had a less than ideal start to his freshman campaign. In two preseason games, he’s thrown for 73-yards, zero touchdowns and one interception and is completing passes at a 56.3% clip. Struggles are to be expected when starting a rookie QB, so the Saints can’t let him get hot early.
The rest of the Texans first string offense has some young and talented players. Tank Dell has been the star of Houston’s preseason, Dameon Pierce is hoping to have a strong sophomore year and Nico Collins is expected to play a large role as the Texans WR1. If the Saints hold true to what we’ve seen so far, we should expect to see Paulson Adebo, Alontae Taylor and Bradley Roby matching up with the Texans first team. The battle for the CB2 spot is still ongoing, and as of right now, it seems Adebo may have the slight lead. Taylor is going to have to show out against Dell/Collins and show the team he can play to the level of his rookie year.
If what we're seeing before the game holds, Paulson Adebo is playing ahead of Alontae Taylor today— Nick Underhill (@nick_underhill) August 13, 2023
Once the starters come out for Houston, it’ll likely be Davis Mills leading the offense. Although many don’t view the Texans playmakers as elite, their second team offense isn’t half bad. Devin Singletary will be their workhorse in the backfield and on the outside, they have former John Metchie and Xavier Hutchinson.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Saints will be without one of their preseason standouts, linebacker Ryan Connelly. He suffered a significant knee injury and unfortunately, he may not make the 53-man roster.
DA said LB Ryan Connelly has a significant knee injury— Nick Underhill (@nick_underhill) August 22, 2023
On the bright side, the Saints should have most of their other defensive players healthy, and that includes Niko Lalos who broke onto the scene against the Chargers with three sacks. We should also see a good amount of Jaylon Smith, the Saints newly signed linebacker who shined in his first game in the black and gold. Payton Turner has had a surprisingly good preseason so far. In two games, Turner’s recorded three tackles and three QB hits.
As for the rookies, Bresee, Foskey and Howden all should get pretty significant playing time. After a letdown in week one, Foskey bounced back, leading the team in QB pressures with four against the Chargers. Bresee put up another solid outing, even though he didn’t record a sack, he batted a pass down at the line of scrimmage and was solid in the run game. Howden totaled two tackles last weekend, but we’ve yet to see any major plays from him.
With all things considered, the Saints defense should be able to have a very good outing on Sunday. The Texans are a very young and inexperienced team with a new head coach who is very defensive minded. The defense should be able to lock things up outside and slow down the run game against one of the worst offensive lines in football. If the Saints can find success on defense, they should be able to make it out of the preseason with a clean record.
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