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We've reached the midpoint of the preseason and the Saints likely put a good scare into their fanbase with Saturday night's performance.

But as folks like to say, it's never as bad as it seems and it's never as good as it seems.

The teamplayed poorly against theTexans in a 27-14 loss, no doubt about it.

And yet, there certainly were positives the first-team offense showed the ability to run the ball, and special teams played well.

At the end of the day, though, that's not enough to make fans look past the 'whipping,' as coach Sean Payton said, that the Texans handed the Saints.

There were missed tackles. There were missed blocks. There were dropped passes. There were too many personal fouls.

In other words, there's plenty for Payton and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams to work on this week in Oxnard, Calif.

I would expect practices to be tougher than they first planned when the trip was booked.

Joseph Morgan (WR):Helped himself. For the second game in a row, did himself proud. Morgan was targeted only one time, but it was a beauty. He ran a picture-perfect route, feigning a block before sticking his foot in the ground and sprinting past everyone on the field. The 56-yard touchdown, combined with a 26-yard kickoff return, was one of the bright spots for the Saints in the loss.

Jed Collins (FB):Helped himself. Collins is a no-name, a guy few people, if any, would be able to pick out of a lineup. But he played well Saturday night, picking up blitzers when called upon and leading the running back through a hole other times. He caught the only pass thrown his way. He has worked with the first-team throughout traning camp and is giving the staff a reason to keep two fullbacks on the 53-man roster.

Charles Brown (OT):Hurt himself. Throughout much of the preseason the storyline for Brown has been that if he hasn't been injured (he started training camp on the failed physical list), he hasn't been helping himself on the field. Kind of a lose-lose. Against Houston, you saw why on one play. When quarterback Chase Daniel was sacked and fumbled the ball in the last play of the third quarter, it was Brown's man who was given a free run into the backfield. It appeared as if Brown didn't know the snap count. Though Brown recovered the fumble, it was recovery that neer should have happened.

Will Herring (SLB):Hurt himself. We're not suggesting Herring is losing a roster spot from Saturday night's debacle in H-town. But his role as the starting strongside linebacker became a bit less solid. Though certainly not alone in this, Herring missed numerous tackles that should have been made.

Paul Oliver (FS):Hurt himself. No one looked more lost on the field against Houston than Oliver. In his fifth season, he looked like he was in his first. He was flat-footed and missed on open-field tackles. Heck, he missed tackles, period. He is battling Chris Reis for the backup spot behind Malcolm Jenkins and didn't make a very good mark against Houston.

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