Jameis Winston environment friendly in short debut for New Orleans Saints; Trevor Penning, Tre’Quan Smith depart harm

NEW ORLEANS, La. — New Orleans quarterback Jameis Winston only played one series in his preseason debut against the Los Angeles Chargers on Friday night, but it was enough for Saints coach Dennis Allen.

Winston went 4-for-4 for 59 yards, driving the Saints down the field on the first series of the game. Alvin Kamara, who also saw his only playing time of the preseason, helped with two rushes for 19 yards, including a 13-yard gain that pushed the pile all the way to the 1-yard line, setting things up for running back Mark Ingram to score the first of his two touchdowns in the Saints’ 27-10 win.

“I wanted to get Jameis out there in some game action,” Allen said. “It’s been a while since he’s been in that environment and obviously didn’t get those practice reps against Green Bay. Jarvis Landry is a new player to our system, so it was good to kind of get him out and have a few plays in the Dome.”

The Saints quickly began to pull offensive starters after that, replacing the entire offensive line and Winston on the next series. But it wasn’t quick enough to avoid injuries. Starting left tackle Trevor Penning, a 2022 first-round pick, went to the sideline and was carted off with a toe injury.

Wide receiver Tre’Quan Smith left for the locker room in the second quarter with a shoulder injury after going down to catch a pass that bounced off his hands and into the arms of teammate Marquez Callaway that ended up as a 24-yard gain.

“They’re both going to be evaluated,” Allen said. “I don’t have any updates on it.”

Defensive tackle Albert Huggins was also carted off late in the game, and wide receiver Kirk Merritt and defensive tackle Malcolm Roach both made trips to the injury tent, although Roach returned to the game.

Winston, who missed the first two preseason games with a sprained right foot, looked like he’d shaken off the rust despite only returning to full participation in practice this week. He had passes of 20 yards and 15 yards to Landry and a 19-yard pass to rookie first-round pick Chris Olave.

“I thought he was confident in the pocket, I thought he was decisive with his reads,” Allen said. “There were a couple of plays where he really stepped up in there and rifled the ball in, so I was impressed with what he was able to do. It was good to see.”

Winston has not played in the Caesars Superdome since he tore his left ACL last Halloween. He said that he was grateful to be back after he didn’t get to finish last season.

“I just kept telling the Lord, ‘Thank you, thank you,’ for allowing me this opportunity to be back on the field in front of these fans in the same place I was carried off,” Winston said.

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