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Saints drop preseason opener against Cleveland

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Courtesy NewOrleansSaints.com

Cleveland - Opening the preseason on a beautiful, mild summer night in a half-empty FirstEnergy Stadium near the banks of Lake Erie, the New Orleans Saints achieved two goals Thursday:

1. No major injuries.

2. Getting a game evaluation of some of their younger players.

While the Saints lost the game 20-14 thanks to a long DeShone Kizer touchdown pass in the final two minutes, flying home with a healthy roster is more important for the 2017 regular season. The Saints sat stars Drew Brees, Mark Ingram, Cam Jordan, Adrian Peterson and the team's two 2017 first-round picks, cornerback Marshon Lattimore and tackle Ryan Ramczyk, who had been missing recently from practice and a handful of other players.

Veteran Chase Daniel got the start at quarterback and led the team on two drives, the second ending with a 22-yard Wil Lutz field goal. Garrett Grayson took over and other than a forced fumble that led to Cleveland's first touchdown, had a nice night before giving way to Ryan Nassib.

Nassib's 2-yard touchdown pass to Tommylee Lewis was the only Saints TD of the game and the 2-point conversion run by Daniel Lasco was another bright spot.

Lewis, in his second year, had a monster game, making 10 catches for 124 yards.

Rookie running back Alvin Kamara also impressed with four carries for 35 yards and Brandon Coleman and Michael Thomas were their usual solid selves.

The defense registered four sacks, by Stephone Anthony, Alex Jenkins, Al-Quadin Muhammad (.5) and Mitchel Loewen (1.5).

The Saints will return to the Ochsner Sports Performance Center on Friday for a series of practices before flying to Los Angeles on Wednesday for joint practices with the Chargers ahead of their preseason game Sunday, Aug. 20.

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