Now that Joe Morgan is out for the season with a torn ACL, New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton began in earnest Friday night against the Kansas City Chiefs the search for the team’s No. 3 wide receiver.
Quarterbacks Drew Brees and Luke McCown looked deep early and often — primarily for fifth-round draft pick Kenny Stills, who officially was targeted three times and caught one pass for 22 yards in the first half.
Others in the mix for the No. 3 job are Nick Toon, veteran Steve Breaston, Preston Parker and possibly Andy Tanner.
McCown got untracked in the third quarter, leading the Saints on a 13-play, 80-yard touchdown drive capped by a 2-yard scoring pass to Parker to tie the game at 10 with 8:43 remaining.
Toon and McCown caught fire on the series, connecting on passes of 22, 17 and 7 yards. They collaborated on a 20-yard pass later in the third quarter.
McCown and Parker hooked up on their second scoring pass, a 2-yarder with 32 seconds remaining in the third quarter, for a 17-10 lead. They also combined on a 33-yard completion during the series.
Saints third-round draft pick DT John Jenkins sacked Daniel for an 8-yard loss in the second quarter. ... First-round pick
S Kenny Vaccaro was credited with four tackles in the first half.
Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith directed a 14-play, 80-yard touchdown drive on the game’s opening possession, then turned the ball over to backup quarterback Chase Daniel, formerly of the Saints. Smith completed 7 of 8 passes for 68 yards, with the drive culminating on a 1-yard run by Jamaal Charles.
Brees played two series, directing the offense to a 24-yard field goal by Garrett Hartley in the second quarter.
Brees completed 7 of 10 passes for 65 yards with a long of 22 yards to Stills and 16 yards to Lance Moore.
A number of Saints did not play Friday night: Morgan, QB Seneca Wallace, RB Pierre Thomas, WR Marques Colston, CB Patrick Robinson, ILB Jonathan Vilma, C Eric Olsen, G Andrew Tiller, OLB Junior Galette, OLB Martez Wilson, DE Tom Johnson, DE Kenyon Coleman and OLB Victor Butler. Morgan, Coleman and Butler are expected to miss the season because of injuries.
Trailing 10-3 and facing a fourth-and-one at the Chiefs’ 24, Payton bypassed a 42-yard field-goal attempt and tried to move the chains late in the first half. But the Chiefs penetrated the left side of the Saints offensive line and stopped RB Travaris Cadet for a 2-yard loss. Payton might be second-guessed in the regular season for such a move, but in the preseason, he wants to get a good evaluation of rookie LT Terron Armstead and Cadet, among others.
3: Sacks by the Saints in the first half — CB Jabari Greer, OLB Baraka Atkins and Jenkins.
14-18-162: McCown’s completions, attempts and passing yards in the third quarter. He also threw two touchdown passes and one interception.
Saints undrafted rookie free agent OLB Eric Martin went to the locker room in the fourth quarter with an injured right wrist. ... Former Saints long snapper Kendall Gammon (1996-99) currently serves as field reporter for the Chiefs’ radio broadcasts. Gammon ended his 15-year NFL career with the Chiefs from 2000-06 ... Saints DE Glenn Foster and OLB Jay Richardson combined on a sack, forced fumble and fumble recovery in the third quarter. Foster knocked the ball loose from Chiefs’ third-string QB Tyler Bray, and Richardson recovered.
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