Saints Top Jags in Preseason Opener

Geaux Black and Gold

TAMPA, FL – DECEMBER 31: Head coach Sean Payton of the New Orleans Saints watches warmups before the start of an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on December 31, 2017 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)

The New Orleans Saints won their preseason opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday night – a 24-20 comeback victory – but more importantly the coaching staff got long looks at the two players competing to be Drew Brees’ backup at quarterback, Tom Savage and Taysom Hill.

Savage started the game and played every offensive snap in the first half except for the final one and completed 10 of 14 passes for 70 yards while leading the Saints to their first touchdown, a 2-yard run by Mark Ingram.

Hill played most of the second half and almost did more damage with his legs than his right arm as he ran seven times for 52 yards while completing 8 of 9 passes for 72 yards. Hill played with the reserve offensive line and several times was forced to quickly scramble rather than go through his reads. He scored on a 3-yard run midway through the fourth quarter, a called run for the quarterback out of BYU.

Rookie J.T. Barrett IV came on late and following linebacker Jayrone Elliott’s forced fumble that was recovered by Taylor Stallworth led the Saints on a short game-winning drive. Running back Jonathan Williams scored the winning points with a 4-yard run with 2:55 to play.

Brees was just one of several high-profile Saints players who sat out the preseason contest, with Cameron Jordan and first-round pick Marcus Davenport being two other prominent DNPs. But the Saints played starting tailbacks Ingram and Alvin Kamara, star wide receiver Michael Thomas and star cornerback Marshon Lattimore among other first-string players.

Receiver Brandon Tate had a 37-yard return in the first half, defensive end Mitch Loewen was active on the second-team defense and defensive tackle Devaroe Lawrence had two sacks. Elliott also had another second strip-sack in the final minutes, finishing with 2.5 sacks. Third-round pick Tre’Quan Smith had a nice debut with four receptions for 48 yards.

The Saints return to practice Friday at the Ochsner Sports Performance Center and will work the next week in preparation for their preseason home opener against the Arizona Cardinals on Friday, Aug. 17.

(Press Release Provided by the New Orleans Saints)

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