Saints coach Dennis Allen won't make call on QB yet for Thursday

NEW ORLEANS, La. -- New Orleans Saints coach Dennis Allen declined to make a decision on his starting quarterback on the eve of a short week.

Saints quarterback Andy Dalton started his third straight game Sunday in place of Jameis Winston, who is recovering from a back injury. The Saints lost at home 30-26 to the Cincinnati Bengals.

Winston returned to practice this week and active for Sunday's game against the Bengals, but Allen said that was a product of the Saints' extensive injury report and "trying to find 48 available bodies."

The Saints were down four receivers along with starting cornerback Marshon Lattimore.

Allen admitted that Winston was not yet 100% healthy but didn't want to make any projections with a Thursday night game at the Arizona Cardinals coming up this week.

"Let's get in the study on that and we'll see where he's at and then we'll go from there," Allen said.

Dalton also declined to comment, saying he'd leave the decision up to Allen.

"I'm going to let DA handle that, that whole situation. We'll see how it goes," Dalton said.

Dalton was 17-of-32 for 162 yards and a touchdown against the Bengals. The Saints rushed for 228 yards as a team and won the time of possession but still lost.

It was their first team loss with at least 200 rushing yards since the 2005 season, according to ESPN Stats and Information research.

The Saints essentially had no choice but to try to attack the Bengals on the ground with injuries dominating their roster.

They did not have wide receivers Michael Thomas, Jarvis Landry or Chris Olave, and placed kick returner Deonte Harty on injured reserve.

The Saints called up rookie Rashid Shaheed from the practice squad and he scored a 44-yard touchdown in his NFL debut.

However, the Saints could not get in the end zone again after that, kicking four straight field goals and then gaining only 28 yards in their last two drives, including the two-minute drive to try to retake the lead. The Bengals went up 30-26 with 2:10 left after two missed tackles led to a 60-yard touchdown by Bengals receiver Ja'Marr Chase.

"When you're kicking field goals instead of scoring touchdowns, that was the difference in the game for sure," Dalton said.

He added: "It is frustrating. We've got to take pride in being at our best in those moments and we weren't today."

The Saints could be using a similar cast of characters against the Cardinals with the short week coming up.

Thomas has missed the last three games and Landry the last two games. Olave, the team's leading receiver in yards, was the only receiver to practice this week but remains in concussion protocol.