NEW ORLEANS -- I gave my game ball to rookie running back/return man Marcus Murphy after the New Orleans Saints’ 27-13 loss to the Houston Texans. Here are some other highs and lows in terms of the Saints’ individual performances:
WR Willie Snead: One of the most impressive players throughout training camp, the second-year undrafted receiver just continues to make plays. He caught four passes for 56 yards -- all in the first half -- and drew a pass interference penalty on a deep route. Snead feels like a player who has played too well to get cut, even though his role on the team isn’t completely clear just yet.
DLs Tyeler Davison and Tavaris Barnes: The rookie defensive linemen combined for the Saints’ first sack of the preseason in the third quarter. Coach Sean Payton joked afterward that the team was ready to have a “second line” parade afterward. The play was significant for both young players, who have a great chance to make the roster and play a rotational role on defense. They both rotated in with the first-string defense in nickel and dime packages as well.
K Zach Hocker: For most of the summer, it has seemed as though Dustin Hopkins is slightly ahead of Zach Hocker in the Saints’ battle between young kickers. But Hocker made his strongest case yet by drilling a 53-yard field goal just before halftime. “It’s close,” Payton said. “We’re still talking about it in the third week of the preseason.”
QB Ryan Griffin: As if it wasn’t bad enough that Griffin didn’t get to play until there were only 42 seconds left in Sunday’s game, things got worse when he threw an interception on his third snap. Just a few weeks ago, it felt like Griffin and veteran Luke McCown were in a 50-50 battle for the backup job. But McCown has played ahead of Griffin in all three games. And now Griffin played behind rookie Garrett Grayson as well. It sure seems like the third-year undrafted QB from Tulane will have to try to advance his promising young career with another NFL team.
Cornerbacks: The Saints’ top cornerback, Keenan Lewis, has looked great for most of this summer. But he had his hands full with the Texans’ top receiver, DeAndre Hopkins, on Houston’s opening drive. Hopkins caught a 29-yard pass behind Lewis on the second play of the drive. Then Lewis was flagged for pass interference against Hopkins in the end zone (and Hopkins still almost caught it). Backup cornerbacks Damian Swann, Stanley Jean-Baptiste and Kyle Wilson also had one or two rough snaps each, though Swann did have an impressive pass break-up on third-and-8 early in the game. Swann seems to be ahead of the other two in the pecking order for the No. 4 cornerback job.