Camp report: Payton still mulling over how much starters to play

Plans have not been finalized yet, but Saints coach Sean Payton said the starters likely would play the entire first half Sunday night against Houston.

“We are going to talk about that this evening,” Payton said after the Saints practiced indoors on Thursday morning. “Our goal would be to go a half and then kind of see where we are at with the reps. There may be a group that comes in the third quarter that has gone in the first half that we continue to go with.”

Wide receiver Marques Colston likely won’t play despite practicing for the third time in four days. He sat out Wednesday’s workout to protect an unspecified foot injury that sidelined him for the first two preseason games. Payton said the goal was to have him healthy for the regular season.

“We will see,” Payton said. “I would probably be more inclined to say no (on Colston playing), but I was encouraged with what I saw today. It is something that will calm down and will take a little time.”

The Saints and Texans are 2-0 in the preseason. Houston, coming off a 12-4 year, beat Minnesota 27-13 and Miami 24-17.

“They are a good team,” Payton said. “Their program we are very familiar with in that we played them (nearly) every preseason. We have had joint practices with them. … They are certainly a contending team and have a lot of confidence.”

Payton sounded less certain about the Saints, but that’s by design.

“I don’t think you ever know what you have,” he said. “Coaches are driven by the fear of failure and wanting to be successful and avoiding that line of thinking. It’s dangerous. It’s not healthy.”

Still fighting

Preston Parker’s chance of making the final roster received a significant boost when the Saints cut fellow wide receivers Steve Breaston and Patrick Crayton on Monday, but he said he still has some work to do on Sunday against the Texans.

“I guess I’ve been doing the right things, because I’m still here,” Parker said. “That’s what I want to keep doing. That’s the coaches’ decision when they cut players. My main goal is to keep the same job I have had since Day 1.”

Parker, a fourth-year veteran who caught 40 passes for Tampa Bay in 2011, was cut after two games in 2012. Signed by the Saints in January, he has played well the first two preseason games, catching two touchdown passes against Kansas City and making two first-down receptions against Oakland. He also returned a punt 17 yards versus the Raiders and has averaged 21.8 yards on five kickoff returns.

With Marques Colston, Lance Moore, Kenny Stills and Nick Toon locks, Parker is competing with Andy Tanner, Saalim Hakim and seldom-used Tim Toone for the remaining roster spot (or spots). Hakim, one the fastest player on the team, dropped two passes at the beginning of practice Thursday and had only one catch for 8 yards through two preseason games. Toone has zero catches.

“I have to keep going and keep being productive,” Parker said. “That’s how you want to always think, come in every day and that’s the mindset you need.”

Injury update

Right guard Jahri Evans practiced Thursday in the 30-minute period open to reporters after sitting out Wednesday, while fullback Jed Collins missed his second consecutive day with an unspecified injury.

Linebacker Chris Chamberlain missed the workout, but Payton said it was not injury related. He said Chamberlain had been excused the past two days to deal with an undisclosed family matter and likely would be back Monday.

Linebackers Junior Galette and Jonathan Vilma did not participate, either. Will Herring returned after missing the previous two days.

Wallace signs with 49ers

Quarterback Seneca Wallace, whom the Saints cut Monday, signed a one-year deal San Francisco on Thursday.

Wallace had a rough night against Oakland, throwing an interception and losing a fumble that the Raiders recovered for a touchdown. It was his first and last action of the preseason for the Saints after signing in the offseason. He missed the opener with a groin injury.

Wallace will compete with Colt McCoy, rookie B.J. Daniels and Scott Tolzien for backup spots to Colin Kaepernick.

Guerry Smith