Sat Aug 13 11:15pm ET
By KRISTIE RIEKEN
AP Sports Writer
Houston Texans head coach Lovie Smith watches from the sidelines during the second half of an NFL preseason football game against the New Orleans Saints Saturday, Aug. 13, 2022, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Kirk Merritt (85) is hit by Houston Texans linebacker Blake Cashman (53) and cornerback Tremon Smith (1) after a catch during the first half of an NFL preseason football game Saturday, Aug. 13, 2022, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
New Orleans Saints quarterback Andy Dalton (14) runs against the Houston Texans during the first half of an NFL preseason football game Saturday, Aug. 13, 2022, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)
Houston Texans quarterback Davis Mills (10) is pressures by New Orleans Saints defensive end Carl Granderson (96) as the passes during the first half of an NFL preseason football game Saturday, Aug. 13, 2022, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)
New Orleans Saints head coach Dennis Allen, left, talks with safety Daniel Sorensen (25) before an NFL preseason football game against the Houston Texans Saturday, Aug. 13, 2022, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
HOUSTON (AP) Andy Dalton threw a touchdown pass on his only possession in his debut with New Orleans, but the Saints fell to the Houston Texans 17-13 Saturday night after a touchdown in the final minute.
Dalton, who joined the Saints after spending last season with the Bears, started with Jameis Winston out after he injured his foot in practice Monday.
Dalton was a perfect 5 for 5 for 51 yards. He threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to Dwayne Washington to put New Orleans up 7-0 early.
Houston quarterback Davis Mills was 3 for 3 for 14 yards in two drives where the team failed to get a first down.
The Texans are sticking with Mills as their starter this season despite a subpar rookie campaign when he played 13 games in the team's dreadful 4-13 season.
Both teams featured the debut of new head coaches with Dennis Allen taking over for Sean Payton in New Orleans and Lovie Smith replacing David Culley for the Texans. Both Allen and Smith moved into the top job after working last season as their team's defensive coordinator.
Jeff Driskel threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to rookie Johnny Johnson III in the final minute to lift Houston to the win.
The Texans cut the lead to 7-3 on a 49-yard field goal by Ka'imi Fairbairn late in the first quarter.
Houston took a 10-7 lead when Driskel connected with Jalen Camp on a 4-yard touchdown pass early in the second. That score came after Obo Okoronkwo recovered a fumble by quarterback Ian Book.
Camp had a 49-yard reception on Houston's final drive to help set up the score.
The Saints tied it about two minutes before halftime on a 23-yard field goal by Will Lutz.
A 36-yard field goal by John Parker Romo put New Orleans up 13-10 early in the fourth quarter.
Receiver Chris Olave, taken 11th overall, and 19th pick left tackle Trevor Penning made their debuts Saturday night for New Orleans. Olave had one reception for 4 yards.
A bright spot for the Texans was the play of rookie fourth-round pick Dameon Pierce, who had five carries for 49 yards. Houston is expected to start Marlon Mack, but Pierce is likely to also get carries this season as the team attempts to improve a running game that has been among the worst in the NFL for the past two seasons.
Houston rookie safety Jalen Pitre, a second-round pick, had a solid debut with four tackles, including one for a loss.
Chase Hansen led the Saints with six tackles, including two for losses, and returned an interception 44 yards to set up a field goal in the second quarter.
It was one of three interceptions thrown by Driskel.
The Texans were without their two first-round draft picks with cornerback Derek Stingley Jr., taken third overall, and left guard Kenyon Green, the 15th pick, missing the game with injuries.
Stingley has been participating in practice but is being brought along slowly as he continues to recover from September surgery to repair a torn ligament in his foot. Green has missed practice time recently with a knee injury.
Stingley was a consensus All-America selection as a freshman in 2019 but was hampered by injury the past two seasons, including being limited to just three games last year at LSU because of the foot injury. Despite the setbacks, the Texans are confident that he'll be able to step in early and help turn around a secondary that was among the league's worst last season.
Saints: Visit the Green Bay Packers Friday night.
Texans: Visit the Los Angeles Rams Friday night.
Kansas City Chiefs WR Justin Watson caught five passes on six targets for 45 yards and a touchdown in a 19-14 preseason loss to the Chicago Bears Saturday, Aug. 13.
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett completed 13 of 15 passes for 95 yards and two touchdowns in a 32-25 preseason win over the Seattle Seahawks on Saturday. Pickett looked good in the first preseason game of his career, playing the entire second half and throwing a game-winning touchdown with 12 seconds left on the clock. The first-round rookie also tacked on 16 rushing yards on three carries in the contest. Pickett will open the season behind expected starter Mitch Trubisky but he is likely to see some playing time in 2022 unless Trubisky puts together a dominant season under center for Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver George Pickens caught three of his five targets for 43 yards and a touchdown in a 32-25 preseason win over the Seattle Seahawks on Saturday. Pickens found the end zone on a 26-yard catch near the end of the first quarter of play. The rookie out of the University of Georgia has reportedly been starring during Steelers training camp and he showed why against Seattle on Saturday evening. Based on the early reviews, Pickens is becoming an interesting name in redraft leagues and especially in dynasty.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Giovani Bernard (ankle) won't return to the preseason game against the Miami Dolphins Saturday, Aug. 13, after suffering an ankle injury.
Pittsburgh Steelers SS Karl Joseph (ankle) exited the preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks Saturday, Aug. 13, with a right ankle injury and will not return.
Pittsburgh Steelers CB Ahkello Witherspoon (shoulder) exited the preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks with a shoulder injury Saturday, Aug. 13, and is questionable to return.
Carolina Panthers QBs Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold both worked with the first-team offense Saturday, Aug. 13, against the Washington Commanders. Mayfield completed 4-of-7 passes for 45 yards, and Darnold completed 2-of-3 passes for 16 yards and a touchdown.
Fantasy Spin: Mayfield got the start, but Darnold was the one with the touchdown pass to WR Rashard Higgins. This competition is likely just heating up, but Mayfield appears to have the slight lead. He should be viewed as a QB2.
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mitch Trubisky completed four of seven passes for 63 yards and a touchdown in his team's Saturday preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks. Trubisky connected with wideout Gunner Olszewski for a 13-yard score in the first quarter while adding a four-yard run. He played on Pittsburgh's first two offensive drives before taking a seat for the rest of the evening. Trubisky has the inside track on the starting quarterback job in Pittsburgh, although his grip on the job isn't going to be very firm with first-round pick Kenny Pickett waiting in the wings. Fantasy gamers should treat Trubisky as a high-end QB3 in fantasy drafts for the upcoming season.
Baltimore Ravens running back J.K. Dobbins (knee) is expected to return to practice on Monday, head coach John Harbaugh relayed to James Palmer of NFL Network. Dobbins was recently activated from the PUP list but has yet to take the field for an official practice session as the team continues to exercise caution. Dobbins missed all of 2021 with a torn ACL but, as of now, is expected to suit up come Week 1 of his age-23 season. The Ohio State product impressed as a rookie in 2020, totaling 805 rushing yards, 120 receiving yards, and nine touchdowns. He should be viewed as a mid-to-low RB2 option ahead of upcoming fantasy drafts.
Pittsburgh Steelers rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett could replace the starting quarterback (most likely Mitchell Trubisky, but possibly Mason Rudolph) in the first half of the season, according to Mark Kaboly of The Athletic. Kaboly identified Week 4 against the Jets as a good target date for Pickett's debut since the Steelers will have extra practice coming off the Thursday night game and the Jets aren't an entirely scary opponent. He also sees Week 10 as a natural possibility since the Steelers have a Week 9 bye. "Pickett will eventually get his chance," Kaboly writes. "Over the past decade, first-round quarterbacks have almost always started a game during their rookie years." Pickett can be left on waivers in most redraft leagues for now, though he has significant appeal in dynasty formats.
San Francisco 49ers rookie wide receiver Danny Gray is experiencing hip and back soreness following Friday's preseason opener against the Green Bay Packers, according to Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports. He is expected to miss a couple of days of practice. Gray made a big impression during Friday's win, catching two of four targets for 99 yards. His biggest play was a fantastic 76-yard score in which he used his speed to beat coverage and find the end zone with ease. The third-round pick is listed fourth on the Niners' depth chart but continues to compete for meaningful snaps. His athleticism and big-play ability could make him an instant favorite in San Francisco's flashy offense.
Carolina Panthers wide receiver DJ Moore was held out of Saturday's preseason game against the Washington Commanders due to shoulder soreness, according to Schuyler Callihan of SI Now. Moore, just 25 years old, has been the Panthers' top receiver for several seasons in a row. Just last year, despite dealing with poor quarterback play from Sam Darnold, Cam Newton, and P.J. Walker, he racked up 1,157 yards and four touchdowns. He is expected to improve in 2022 now that the Panthers have made a slight improvement at quarterback. Moore should be viewed as a mid-to-high WR2 option heading into fantasy drafts.
New Orleans Saints WR Michael Thomas did not travel with the team and is not playing in the preseason opener Sunday, Aug. 14, against the Houston Texans.
Fantasy Spin: Thomas missed the entire 2021 season with a foot injury but has been practicing in full during training camp so this is a precautionary move.
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson has set a Week 1 deadline for a contract extension as negotiations continue between him and the team. Specifically, when asked if he would put a pause on negotiations when the season starts, the star quarterback said, "Yeah, for sure." Jackson likely won't see too much preseason action, but there's no denying that he has overall QB1 upside if things go right and he can stay healthy. The quarterback battled an ankle injury last season but is ready to go for 2022.
Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor could see a reduction in volume this coming season, according to Stephen Holder of ESPN. According to Holder, head coach Frank Reich told him that the goal is to win a championship, not to make Taylor the MVP or rushing leader. If they need to cut back on his volume in order to accomplish that, so be it. "You don't see teams that have this ground-and-pound run game win championships," he said. "Our best formula is to be balanced. I'm not saying he won't lead the league in touches, because you never know how things are going to play out. But I almost don't want him to." This shouldn't completely deter fantasy managers from drafting Taylor at the 1.01 this draft season, but it's still worth mentioning considering the Colts have discussed reducing his workload for a while now. The team wants to get Nyheim Hines involved, and the passing game looks like it is trending up, too.
New York Giants second-year wide receiver Kadarius Toney (knee) suffered a setback in training camp that caused him to miss the preseason opener, but he could return to practice in the next few days, head coach Brian Daboll told the team's official website. "He worked really hard coming from the offseason to get to where he is right now," Daboll said. "Hopefully these next few days will calm it down and we'll be ready to go again." Depending on how the offense shakes out, Toney could be the most intriguing wide receiver on the team, especially from a fantasy perspective. He can be used all over the field and offers an exciting blend of speed and athleticism. He totaled 420 yards through 10 games last year, though parts of those games were spent in the medical tent or locker room. If he can stay healthy, he has high-end WR3 upside in 2022.
Indianapolis Colts WR Keke Coutee (groin) was ruled out of the preseason opener Saturday, Aug. 13, against the Buffalo Bills due to a groin injury.
Updating a previous report, Kansas City Chiefs TE Blake Bell (hip) has been ruled out of the preseason Week 1 contest on Saturday, Aug. 13, after exiting with a hip injury.
New York Jets running back Michael Carter got the nominal start in Friday's preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles. Carter ended up running the ball three times for five yards and adding one catch for seven yards. Carter worked with the first team offense until quarterback Zach Wilson was forced to leave the game with an injury. He did split time with rookie running back Breece Hall though, and it remains unclear what this backfield timeshare will look like. Still, it was good to see Carter running the ball just a few weeks out from his injury. He should be good to go on all cylinders by Week 1, but his fantasy value depends entirely on how much of the backfield he'll get. Preseason game two against the Atlanta Falcons should give us all a better idea of how things will go for the Jets runners.