Lackluster Saints preseason begins Dennis Allen era

Zachary Brandwein, Staff Reporter

saints preseason
Quarterback Ian Book played most snaps this preseason, but did not show enough to stay with the team (Matthew Tate)

For the first time since 2005, the New Orleans Saints have started preseason without Sean Payton on their sidelines. Although they had a losing record at 1-2, the Saints used this time to gel as a team and find their identity under new head coach Dennis Allen. 

In preseason week one, the Saints played the Houston Texans, who are not seen as one of the top teams in the NFL. The Saints lost 17-13, and their offense did not look that great in their time on the field. Third string quarterback Ian Book threw for 121 yards and an interception, while rookie wide receiver Chris Olave only had one catch for four yards. However, the Saints top five ranked defense showed out with three interceptions. 

In week two, the Saints faced off against the Green Bay Packers losing 20-10. Again, Book was mediocre, throwing for 113 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Book led the team in rushing with 49 yards, although that came with a lost fumble. Rookie WR Chris Olave had his best game of the preseason, with two catches for 28 yards and scored the only Saints touchdown of the day. 

Week three was when the Saints preseason woes came to an end with a 27-10 victory against the Los Angeles Chargers. Like the previous two weeks, Book played most of the game, throwing 11 completions for 81 yards and a touchdown. Again, Book led the saints in rushing with 50 yards, while Mark Ingram ran for two touchdowns. 

Starting quarterback Jameis Winston was able to get his feet wet, going 4/4 and leading a 75 yard scoring drive to start the game. In his only preseason game, new addition Jarvis Landry had two catches for 35 yards, while Olave continued to get limited opportunities with only one catch for 19 yards. 

Rookie left tackle Trevor Penning was carted off the field midway through the game after an apparent foot injury. An MRI scan the next day revealed that he had torn a ligament in his foot and will be out indefinitely. The 19th overall pick in the 2022 Draft had a chance to earn the starting left tackle spot, but that will likely go to veteran James Hurst this season.

Although Olave’s preseason was lackluster, Winston had high praise for the first year wideout. Winston said that Olave’s professionalism and preparedness reminded him of Chris Godwin, a receiver Winston spent time with in Tampa Bay. Godwin is a two time 1,000 yard receiver, as well as one time all pro and one time pro bowler. With Olave only just starting his NFL career, he may be a huge part of the Saints for years to come.

On Aug. 30, the Saints dealt defensive back Chauncey Gardner-Johnson to the Philadelphia Eagles along with a 2025 seventh round pick, in exchange for a 2023 fifth rounder and 2024 sixth rounder. Johnson, who was in the final year of his rookie deal, was a half participant in most of training camp this year as he attempted to hold out for a new contract. Both of this was enough for the front office to decide on trading him away.

The team also announced that they would be cutting Ian Book, solidifying Andy Dalton’s role as a backup. Book only played one NFL game so far, which came in week 16 of last year’s NFL season. Book threw 12 completions for 135 yards, and two interceptions, one of which was taken back for a touchdown. Other notable players who were cut include defensive end Taco Charlton and tight end Chris Herndon. 

The Saints open on Sept. 11 on the road to the Atlanta Falcons. The game will be at noon CDT and will be broadcast on FOX.

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