The Saints yanked their starters early in their 27-10 preseason loss to the Houston Texans, and Drew Brees' backups didn't exactly shine in his absence.

Brees only played a single drive, completing four of his six passes. After that, he spent the rest of the game watching from the sidelines where nobody could hit him. It was a mass exodus of starters on the offensive side of the ball early, but Sean Payton didn't have any qualms with throwing the backups out early. On top of wanting to figure out roster spot battles, Payton mostly wanted to keep his studs out of harm's way.

"It's just trying to be safe, Payton said. "Brandin [Cooks] and Drew were going to get a real limited amount of snaps."

With the major pieces effectively removed from any injury risk, it was up to the backups to get the coaching staff's attention. Late-round draft pick Marcus Murphy took his reps and ran with them.

The versatile back out of Mizzou hauled in 63 passing yards on only three catches, and he averaged over five yards per carry (8 rushes, 43 yards), while showing flashes in return duties as well. While Coach Payton is still waiting to make his decision at a few spots, Murphy doesn't have to worry about his spot on the roster. His coach put that to bed immediately after the game.

"I like the player," Payton said. "He's making this team."

No smokescreen there. Just another late round pick poised to make an impact for Payton's Saints.

In other good news, the Saints dry spell in the backfield is over. They collected their first sack. I repeat, the Saints collected their first sack of the preseason. Their savior was rookie Defensive Lineman Tyeler Davison, and the miracle happened in the second half. It was a night for the youngsters. Payton was ready to throw a party.

"We could have a second line tonight with our first sack," Payton said.

Clearly, some things went south for the Saints to end up with an L. Let's start with the backup QB's. None of them found the endzone, and Ryan Griffin probably wished he never saw the field (1/3, 12 yards, 1 INT). It was mostly Luke McCown and rookie Garrett Grayson running the show.

McCown's day was slightly better (8/14, 117 yards) than Grayson's (7/16, 96 yards), but neither shined. They were able to get down the field and into scoring position, but the redzone touchdown's just didn't materialize. Maybe it's Ryan Griffin's job to lose as the #2 guy, but nobody looked ready if Brees were to go down.

Another preseason loss, but don't sweat it too much. At least none of the starters got hurt. Also, Zach Hocker hit a 53 yard field goal. Try to smile, Who Dat Nation.

INJURY NOTE: Safety and special teamer Vinnie Sunseri suffered what appeared to be a season-ending knee injury.