Saints prepare for Texans formations; starters to play more

METAIRIE - After getting between 14 and 16 plays in their exhibition opener last week, the New Orleans Saints’ starting offense and defense may get as many as 25 snaps Saturday night against the Houston Texans.

Coach Sean Payton said he wants his first units to get between 20 and 25 snaps, preferably closer to 25, before he removes them.

“That may or may not get us to the half,” Payton said, “but somewhere in that range.”

The Saints finished their preps for the game by working on the Texans’ offensive and defensive formations for the first time.

After meetings and a brief walkthrough Friday, the team and coaching staff will attend the annual Meet the Saints luncheon, which is hosted by the Touchdown Club of New Orleans, before flying to Houston.

Jenkins, Porter return

Free safety Malcolm Jenkins, who had missed the two previous practices after tweaking his right knee Monday, was back on the field along with cornerback Tracy Porter, who was held out on Wednesday to rest his surgically-repaired knee.

Payton said Jenkins will play against the Texans, but he will hold Porter out another week to be on the safe side.

Guard Jahri Evans sat out a second straight practice to rest his knee, but Payton said he expects him to play Saturday.

Injury report

Not working on Thursday were RB Chris Ivory (foot/sports hernia), DE Greg Romeus (knee), LB Ezra Butler (hamstring/sports hernia), LB Ramon Humber (quadriceps), LB Clint Ingram (hamstring), DT Tom Johnson (calf), CB Johnny Patrick (knee), DE Jeff Charleston (ankle), CB Fabian Washington (hamstring), and TE Tory Humphrey (knee).

RB Joique Bell (knee) and CB Leigh Torrence (hip) worked on a limited basis after missing practice time this week.

Also, S Chris Reis and LB Jonathan Casillas were excused because their wives were due to deliver babies.

Roster move

The Saints put tackle Alex Barron on injured reserve Thursday, eight days after he had arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee.

Barron, an unrestricted free agent who played last season with the Dallas Cowboys, was signed early in camp to add depth to the offensive line.

To fill Barron’s roster spot, the team signed cornerback Quincy Butler. It’s Butler’s third stint with the Saints; he was on the practice squad for two months in 2008 and last season was with the team for three days before being released when they activated Darren Sharper from the physically-unable-to-perform list.

Hornets visit

New Orleans Hornets coach Monty Williams, his coaching staff and a few other members of the NBA organization watched the Saints practice Thursday.

A couple of times during special teams drills, Payton strode over and briefly talked with Williams, who spoke to reporters after practice ended.

“It was about us continuing to learn and get better as coaches,” Williams said of the visit. “I want to learn as much as I can from guys who do it well, and I picked up a couple of drills.

“I spent most of my time watching Drew (Brees),” he said. “I’m amazed he doesn’t take any time off. He doesn’t slack off in drills; he takes every drill and everything they do seriously. I watched all of his passes; they were all spirals ￉ everything was on point.”