A little Drew Brees, a lot of Luke McCown for Saints

NEW ORLEANS -- It sounds like Drew Brees will make a cameo appearance to start the New Orleans Saints' third preseason game Sunday against the Houston Texans before he turns over the first-string offense to veteran backup Luke McCown for the rest of the first half.

"I think you'll see a handful of plays," Saints coach Sean Payton said of Brees. "You're not gonna see three quarters like back in '06 and '07. We'll get him some work, and then we'll get into our rotation. ...

"Our plans right now are to play Luke for quite a bit. And then the second half you're gonna see both Ryan [Griffin] and Garrett [Grayson]."

Though Payton didn't say it, that rotation doesn't seem to bode well for Griffin's chances of winning the Saints' backup job.

Although McCown and Griffin rotate snaps with the second string in practice, McCown has played ahead of Griffin in every preseason game so far. The same thing happened last preseason, and McCown won the starting job while Griffin was relegated to the practice squad.

Griffin, a third-year pro from Tulane who signed as an undrafted free agent, has always shown a ton of potential and has appeared to be neck and neck with McCown in each of the past two summers in both practices and exhibition games.

However, Griffin is no longer the Saints' young developmental QB for the future since the Saints drafted Grayson in the third round.

It's hard to imagine the Saints will keep four QBs, so either McCown or Griffin will almost certainly be released by Sept. 5.

Griffin insisted that he doesn't get too worked up about the fact that McCown has stayed ahead of him in every preseason game.

"Well, he's been the guy the past two years. So I don't think there's any question [that McCown is ahead in the pecking order]," Griffin said. "But I'm not concerned with how he plays. I can't control how well he plays or doesn't play. So I'm just focused on myself."

In general, the Saints plan to treat Sunday's game like a traditional third preseason game -- like a dress rehearsal for the regular season, with the starters playing their most snaps to date. The Saints even game-planned for the Texans with scout-team work during Friday night's practice, the first time they've done that this preseason.

However, Texans coach Bill O'Brien said he won't treat Sunday's game the same way. Many of the Texans starters, including J.J. Watt, are expected to play little, if at all.

Payton said the Saints can only concern themselves with their own plan, though, and which players they feel need the snaps.

Payton said earlier this week that there are certain players the coaches need to see earlier in games to evaluate -- including safeties like Pierre Warren, Kenny Phillips, Vinnie Sunseri and Jamarca Sanford.

Payton also said playing time will be based on which players already have high or low "pitch counts" from the first two preseason games. He mentioned safety Rafael Bush and defensive end Cameron Jordan as two who have gotten "a ton of reps" and may rest more. And he singled out cornerback Delvin Breaux as someone who could use more snaps after missing last week's game with an injury.