NEW ORLEANS (AP) — New Orleans Saints quarterback Jameis Winston looked ready for the regular season in his first game since seriously injuring his left knee last Halloween.
Winston completed all four of his passes for 59 yards in the only series he played, setting up the first of Mark Ingram’s two touchdowns, and New Orleans defeated the Los Angeles Chargers 27-10 in both clubs’ preseason finale Friday night.
The Saints (1-2) did not escape the game without a potentially problematic injury, however. Rookie left tackle Trevor Penning, the second of two first-round draft choices by the Saints last spring, was taken to the locker room on a cart with an apparent left leg injury. He was hurt while being run into from behind by tight end Juwan Johnson near the Chargers goal line.
Winston, who had surgery last November to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament, also had missed the Saints’ first two preseason games with a sprained right foot. But after he returned to full team drills in practice this week, first-year head coach Dennis Allen gave Winston a brief tune-up.
Winston completed his first two passes to newly acquired veteran receiver Jarvis Landry for 20 and 15 yards. He added a 19-yarder to rookie and first-round draft choice Chris Olave, followed by a 5-yard toss to running back Alvin Kamara.
Kamara added a 13-yard run after that to set up Ingram’s 1-yard score.
Most of the Saints’ projected offensive starters played the opening series before getting the rest of the game off. The Chargers (0-3) played very few starters on either side of the ball.
Trey Pipkins III started at right tackle, a spot for which he’s been competing with Storm Norton. Norton started at left tackle in place of projected starter Rashawn Slater, who had the game off.
Backup QB Chase Daniel, a former Saint, got the start for Los Angeles and completed 10 of 11 passes for 113 yards against a Saints defense that fielded several starters. Daniel’s 38-yard pass to Jalen Guyton along the left sideline highlighted a 10-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that ended with Larry Roundtree III’s 1-yard run.
Joshua Kelley, who is competing with Roundtree for backup running back snaps, had rushes of 15 and 9 yards to set Roundtree’s TD, which cut New Orleans’ lead to 14-7.
Wil Lutz’s 47-yard field goal as time expired in the first half gave New Orleans a 17-10 lead and the Saints went ahead 24-10 on Ian Book’s 9-yard pass to Kirk Merritt.
Chargers: Defensive tackle and former LSU player Breiden Fehoko received treatment on the field for an apparent right leg injury before walking to the sideline on his own. Cornerback Kemon Hall, who had four tackles and broke up a pass, also received treatment on the field for an undisclosed injury but was able to walk to the sideline.
Saints: Penning’s injury came while the other player in the running to start at left tackle, James Hurst, is trying to work his way back from an injury that has kept him out of practice for more than a week. Receiver Tre’Quan Smith also went to the locker room after a bizarre play in which the ball bounced out of his hands as he attempted a diving catch and floated to teammate Marquez Callaway for a first-down reception. Defensive tackle Malcolm Roach received treatment for a right leg injury but returned. Reserve defensive tackle Albert Huggins was carted off the field in the fourth quarter with an apparent left leg injury. Saints reciever Michael Thomas, who missed all of last season with an ankle injury, sat out the game with hamstring soreness and did not play at all this preseason.
The Chargers host the Las Vegas Raiders on Sept. 11 in the regular-season opener for both teams.
The Saints open their regular season on the same day, visiting the NFC South rival the Atlanta Falcons.