Breaking down Andrus Peat's 'mixed' debut at left guard

METAIRIE, La. -- Andrus Peat got a crash course in playing left guard on Sunday while making his starting debut at the new position.

The New Orleans Saints' top draft pick only had to face all-world defensive end J.J. Watt a couple times during the 24-6 loss to the Houston Texans (which is good, since one of those times resulted in a sack).

But Peat experienced plenty of variety throughout the day while also going up against end Jared Crick, massive nose tackle Vince Wilfork, speed rushers Whitney Mercilus and Jadeveon Clowney and linebacker Brian Cushing, among others.

The end result? A pretty good mix of highs and lows. But solid enough to expect that Peat should keep his starting job going forward.

"I felt pretty good," Peat said after Sunday's game. "Definitely some things I want to clean up, but I just came into the game with the mentality that I wanted to be as physical as I could."

Peat played left tackle in college and during his previous two spot-starts this season as an injury replacement for Terron Armstead. His future might ultimately be at right tackle in place of veteran Zach Strief.

In the meantime, though, the Saints moved the 6-foot-7, 316-pounder to left guard last week because they felt he had earned a chance to get on the field.

Peat played especially well in the first half, based on my play-by-play review of the game tape. He only had one blatant miscue in the first half, when he was flagged for holding after getting beat by Mercilus on a speed rush early in the second quarter.

Earlier in the game, Peat had a great pancake block when he pulled around the right side and drove a linebacker into the ground on a run play. He showed some power on another run block against Wilfork. And he showed some nice movement skills while picking up a blitz and getting out ahead of some of those failed screen passes.

Peat had some more negative plays in the second half, though. He got torched pretty good on an inside move by Watt for the sack. He got flagged for a false start penalty. He slipped and let Wilfork get past him for a run stuff. And he gave up pressures against Clowney, Wilfork and outside linebacker John Simon.

"I think there was some good and then there were some times where he struggled," coach Sean Payton said. "He had a holding call and he had a false start. There are a handful of technique things that need to be cleaned up. And yet there are a few times on the film where you're looking at it and you're like, ‘Wow, that's pretty good.'

"So overall, I would say it was mixed. There were some real good things and then some things that we gotta improve on."

Although Payton insisted Monday that the Saints will never "play for next year," continuing to develop Peat should rank as a priority for the 4-7 team down the stretch this season.

Ideally, Peat can help them win both this year and into the future.