WR Colston to play Sunday against Jaguars

Saints coach Sean Payton said Thursday that wide receiver Marques Colston will be active and play Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars, confirming what he told Jacksonville reporters a day earlier.

Colston has missed the past two games after having surgery Sept. 9 to repair a fractured collarbone that he suffered in the closing seconds of a 42-34 loss to the Green Bay Packers in the season opener.

During his daily news conference Wednesday, Payton only said Colston, who had surgery to have a small steel plate attached to his right collarbone, practiced on a limited basis after catching passes in individual drills last week.

However, Payton told Jacksonville media that Colston had been medically cleared and would return for Sunday’s game. Initially, it was thought he would miss four games.

“I would say he’s probably on schedule, and things have gone well,” Payton said Thursday. “Our plan is to incorporate him into the game plan. I think he will be activated and I think he’ll be in the plan.

“Like any player coming off an injury, I wouldn’t anticipate him receiving 50 snaps,” Payton said. “I know players that have had (the injury) in our league have taken much longer and others have been a shorter amount, and I’d probably be willing to guess that a lot of it depends on the severity of the fracture.”

PRACTICE REPORT: After getting some good news with Colston working limited and cornerback Tracy Porter having full participation on Wednesday after recovering from a calf injury, middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma practiced on a limited basis Thursday.

Vilma was sidelined for Wednesday’s practice as well as last week’s game against the Houston Texans after injuring his left knee in a Week 2 win over Chicago.

Also limited Thursday were weakside linebacker Jonathan Casillas (foot) and defensive tackle Shaun Rogers (elbow).

Not participating were center Olin Kreutz (knee), tackle Zach Strief (knee), tight end David Thomas (concussion), and strongside linebackers Martez Wilson (shoulder) and Will Herring (hamstring).

DOUBLE YOUR PLEASURE: Before Sunday’s game against the Texans, the Saints had played 50 consecutive regular-season games without a two-point conversion.

Then, in less than 2-1/2 minutes of clock time in the fourth quarter of their 40-33 win, the Saints recorded two two-pointers – with wide receiver Lance Moore getting both of them on passes from Drew Brees.

The last time the Saints scored one was in the 2007 regular-season finale at Chicago. They were 0 for 3 in 2008 and 0 for 1 in each of the past two seasons.

They did have one in Super Bowl XLIV, which also went from Brees to Moore on the same play they scored both on against the Texans.

BREES MOVING UP: Brees can take over sole possession of the third-longest streak in NFL history with a touchdown pass against the Jaguars on Sunday.

Against the Texans, Brees threw for three scores to push his streak to 30 consecutive games, tying him with Dan Marino (1985-87). The only players with longer streaks are Johnny Unitas with 47 (1956-60) and Brett Favre with 36 (2002-04).

The last time Brees failed to throw a touchdown pass was on Oct. 4, 2009, against the New York Jets. In the 30 regular-season games since, Brees has 67 scoring passes.

AFC SUCCESS: Payton is having greater success against the AFC after going 2-7 against the other conference in his first two-plus seasons as a head coach.

With the win over the Texans last week, Payton has taken 10 of 12 against the AFC and is 12-9 all-time. Going into this week’s game against the Jaguars, he’s 13-9 if you count his win over Indianapolis in Super XLIV.

Payton: Strief doesn’t have torn ACL

METAIRIE — Saints coach Sean Payton offered little insight into his team’s injury problems Wednesday although he did say that tackle Zach Strief did not tear the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in Sunday’s win over the Houston Texans.

Strief went down in pain in the third quarter after he stepped on center Brian de la Puente’s foot while blocking on a pass play and had to be helped from the field.

Payton would not discuss any injuries after the game or in his weekly news conference on Monday, saying that he would address them when he had to turn in the first injury report to the league after Wednesday’s practice.

When asked if they hoped to have Strief back at some point this season since he wasn’t put on injured reserve, Payton said, “Absolutely.” While he didn’t reveal the nature of the injury, Payton said they would have put Strief on IR if it had been an ACL.

INJURY REPORT: In addition to Strief, five players did not participate in practice when the team returned to work for Sunday’s game with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Not practicing were middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma (knee), center Olin Kreutz (knee), strongside linebackers Martez Wilson (shoulder) and Will Herring (hamstring), and tight end David Thomas (concussion).

Weakside linebacker Jonathan Casillas (foot) and wide receiver Marcus Colston (fractured collarbone) were limited. Payton, however, told Jacksonville media during a conference call that Colston, who has been sidelined for the last two games, has been cleared medically and will play Sunday.

Also, cornerback Tracy Porter, who missed the last two games with a calf injury, had full participation for the first time since Sept. 14. Also working fully for only the second time since injuring his calf in training camp was defensive tackle Tom Johnson.

ROSTER MOVES: Payton officially announced two moves to the 53-man active roster as they re-signed linebacker Ramon Humber and signed tackle/guard Pat McQuistan to provide depth at two areas that have been hit by a rash of injuries.

Humber, who joined the Saints late last season, was waived by the team on Sept. 5 because they had to sign an extra tight end.

McQuistan, a six-year veteran, started eight games at guard last season for the Miami Dolphins. He will serve as the primary backup for Charles Brown, who moves into the starting lineup for Strief.

The Saints put kicker Garrett Hartley on injured reserve with a hip injury that he suffered in an Aug. 28 exhibition game at Oakland and cut defensive tackle Mitch King, who was added to the practice squad after he cleared waivers.

THE GREAT OUTDOORS: The Saints worked on their outdoor grass fields Wednesday as they began preparing for Sunday’s game with the Jaguars in EverBank Field.

Payton’s team usually practices indoors on Wednesday, especially when they’re going to be playing on an artificial surface, but he often takes them outside to work for a road game where the stadium has natural grass.

“It was probably more grass and outdoor-related as opposed to heat-related,” he said. “It was warmer today than what we’re going to play in on Sunday. It was just a break from going inside.”

‘NEVER SAY NEVER’: Drew Brees and the Saints are one of three nominees for the GMC Never Say Never Moment of the Week, which recognizes determination and perseverance, for their 40-33 win over the Houston Texans.

The Saints trailed the Texans, 26-17, early in the fourth quarter before Brees led his team to 23 points in the final 9 1/2 minutes to pull out the victory.

Fans can vote online at http://www.nfl.com/gmc until 11 a.m. Friday with the winner being announced that day on NFL Network as well as nfl.com.

TWO SAINTS ON LIST: The Pro Football Hall of Fame released a list of 103 nominees for the Class of 2012 on Wednesday.

The list includes two former Saints stars — tackle William Roaf and inside linebacker Sam Mills — as well as former Seattle Seahawks defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy, a consultant for the Saints.

The list will be whittled down to 25 semifinalists in mid-November before being trimmed to 15 finalists plus two old-timers in January prior to the election the day before Super Bowl XLVI.

SAINTS FEATURED: The Saints-Texans game will be featured in Thursday night’s episode of “NFL Turning Point” at 9 p.m. on the Versus network. The show includes audio from the field and bench areas and commentary in breaking down the game.

Hartley to miss rest of season on injured reserve

The Saints put kicker Garrett Hartley on injured reserve Tuesday and made several other roster moves to help out with a growing injury list going into Sunday’s game with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis confirmed via email Tuesday night that Hartley, who has been sidelined since injuring his hip while kicking an extra point in an Aug. 28 exhibition game at Oakland, will miss the rest of the season after being put on injured reserve.

When Hartley was injured, the Saints thought the four-year veteran would probably return sometime in October. While Loomis didn’t offer any reason for the move, it’s possible they felt they couldn’t keep two kickers on the 53-man roster after a series of injuries in Sunday’s 40-33 win over the Houston Texans.

With wide receiver Marques Colston (shoulder), middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma (knee) and cornerback Tracy Porter (calf) already sidelined for the Texans’ game, the Saints lost center Olin Kreutz (undisclosed) and right tackle Zach Strief (knee) during the contest.

Also hurt Sunday were strongside linebackers Will Herring and Martez Wilson, a rookie who made his first NFL start against the Texans. Coach Sean Payton did not address any of the new injuries after the game or during his weekly news conference on Monday, but will issue an injury report after the team returns to practice Wednesday.

In addition to putting Hartley on IR, the Saints waived defensive tackle Mitch King, a first-year player who recorded three tackles as a reserve n the team’s first three regular-season games.

Loomis also confirmed that the team had signed veteran NFL tackle Pat McQuistan and re-signed linebacker Ramon Humber to fill the two open spots on the 53-man active roster.

McQuistan, a 6-foot-6, 315-pounder, was a seventh-round draft pick of the Dallas Cowboys in 2006. He saw action in 40 games with the Cowboys from 2006-09 with no starts, but started eight of 16 games last season for the Miami Dolphins.

McQuistan is expected to be the backup for second-year pro Charles Brown, a 2010 second-round draft pick who’ll likely be penciled into the starting lineup if Strief is sidelined for any length of time.

A three-year veteran, Humber played primarily on special teams after being signed by the Saints late in the 2010 season but was waived on Sept. 5 when the team had to sign an extra tight end to the roster.

The Saints also made a practice squad move Tuesday, releasing quarterback Sean Canfield and signing defensive tackle Swanson Miller. The signing of Miller, who was with the team in training camp, gives them some depth at the position for practice.

With Hartley sidelined, the Saints will go with 41-year-old John Kasay for the rest of the season.

Kasay, a 20-year veteran who was brought in when Hartley was hurt, missed his first field-goal attempt and first extra-point try in the Saints’ final preseason game, but hasn’t misfired since. In the first three regular-season games, he’s 6-of-6 in field goal tries and has made all 10 of his PATs.

Saints up to second in total offense, passing yards

After a wild 40-33 shootout win over the Houston Texans on Sunday, the Saints moved up in several offensive categories and dropped in the major defensive rankings released Tuesday.

The Saints rolled up 454 total yards to move up three spots to second with 437.7 yards per game, but the defense fell nine spots to 21st in allowing 372.7 yards a game after the Texans had 474 total yards Sunday.

The Saints also rank second in passing yards (338.0 yards per game) and are tied for second in scoring (34.7 points per game).

Defensively, they also dropped two spots against the run to ninth and plummeted from 18th to 27th after the Texans had 364 net passing yards.

Here are the rankings for the 2-1 Saints and 1-2 Jacksonville Jaguars, whom the Saints will play Sunday at Everbank Field:

SAINTS

Offense: Total yards, 437.7 (2nd); rushing, 99.7 (14th); passing, 338.0 (2nd); scoring, 34.7 (tie, 2nd).

Defense: Total yards, 372.7 (21st); rushing, 90.7 (9th); passing, 282.0 (27th); scoring, 29.3 (30th).

JAGUARS

Offense: Total yards, 261.0 (28th); rushing, 134.3 (6th); passing, 126.7 (32nd); scoring, 9.7 (31st).

Defense: Total yards, 280.0 (4th); rushing, 83.7 (5th); passing, 196.3 (7th); scoring, 20.7 (tie, 13th).

NEVER SAY NEVER: The NFL announced Tuesday that Drew Brees and the Saints are one of three nominees for the GMC Never Say Never Moment of the Week, which recognizes determination and perseverance.

The Saints trailed the Texans, 26-17, early in the fourth quarter before scoring 23 points in the final 9 1/2 minutes to pull out a 40-33 victory.

The other nominees are the Buffalo Bills, who upended the New England Patriots, 34-31 after trailing 21-0 early in the second quarter, and the Detroit Lions, who roared back from a 20-0 halftime deficit against the Minnesota Vikings to take a 23-20 overtime win.

Fans can vote online at http://www.nfl.com/gmc until 11 a.m. Friday with the winner being announced later that day on NFL Network as well as nfl.com.

Saints top 30 points for third straight game

NEW ORLEANS – For the first time in franchise history, the Saints have scored at least 30 points in three consecutive games to open the regular season.

The latest came Sunday when the Saints (2-1) rallied for a 40-33 victory against the Houston Texans (2-1) before a sellout crowd of 73,002 at the Superdome.

The Saints twice opened the regular season with outputs of at least 30 points: 1993 and 2009, each time starting 2-0.

LINEUP CHANGE: The Saints had two changes in their defensive lineup Sunday. Middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma, who injured his left knee in last week’s win over the Chicago Bears, was held out of the game after being sidelined for practice all week.

Jo-Lonn Dunbar, who started last week at the strong side, moved into Vilma’s spot. Rookie Martez Wilson, one of the team’s two third-round draft picks this spring, made his first NFL start at strongside linebacker.

Also, Will Smith, who returned after serving a two-game NFL suspension for using a banned diuretic in 2008, started at his customary right defensive end spot in place of Turk McBride.

INACTIVES: In addition to Vilma, the Saints inactives were K Garrett Hartley (hip), WR Marques Colston (shoulder), CB Tracy Porter (calf), DE Jeff Charleston, DT Tom Johnson and C/G Matt Tennant.

Texans running back Arian Foster, who has a hamstring injury that he aggravated a week ago, headed up their list of inactives.

Their other inactives were RB Derrick Ward (shoulder/ankle), CB Sherrick McManis, WR David Anderson, G Thomas Austin, T Andrew Gardner and QB T.J. Yates.

KICKING SUCCESS: Saints kicker John Kasay made his only field-goal attempt Sunday, a 35-yarder with 35 seconds remaining in the first half, and is now 6-for-6 this season. The Saints have converted their past 19 attempts dating to the end of the 2010 season and counting the playoff game at Seattle.

INJURY REPORT: Saints center Olin Kreutz came out of the game in the first quarter and was replaced by Brian De la Puente for the remainder of the game. … Right tackle Zach Strief was helped off the field after injuring his right knee early in the third quarter. He was replaced by second-year offensive tackle Charles Brown, the only remaining offensive lineman on the Saints’ game-day roster. … Wilson left the game at the end of the first quarter.

Saints coach Sean Payton declined to address the nature of any of the injuries during his post-game news conference, saying he would provide updates when the team returns to practice Wednesday in preparation for the Jaguars at Jacksonville on Oct. 2.

BY THE NUMBERS: 168 – Consecutive passes thrown without an interception by Saints quarterback Drew Brees dating to Game 16 last season against Tampa Bay. Texans safety Jonathan Joseph picked off a Brees pass intended for Devery Henderson in the second quarter, the first of two interceptions thrown by Brees.

30 – Consecutive regular-season games with a touchdown pass by Brees, tying him for third all-time in the NFL with Dan Marino and trailing only Johnny Unitas (47) and Brett Favre (36).

LAGNIAPPE: Saints cornerback Jabari Greer had an interception in the fourth quarter, the team’s first pick in six regular-season games dating to Dec. 12, 2010, against the St. Louis Rams.

Brian Allee-Walsh and Sheldon Mickles contributed to this report.

Vilma inactive for Saints; Texans’ Foster out

NEW ORLEANS — The Saints and Houston Texans will each be missing an important piece of the puzzle for their defensive and offensive units, respectively, for Sunday’s game in the Superdome.

Saints middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma is inactive because of a left knee injury that he suffered in last Sunday’s 30-13 win over the Chicago Bears.

Vilma was hurt just before halftime of the Bears’ game, but he returned in the second half. He was sidelined for practice all week, however, and was listed as doubtful for the game on Friday by coach Sean Payton, who said the knee didn’t come around as fast as they thought.

Foster, the NFL’s leading rusher in 2010, has been battling a hamstring injury through the preseason and the first games of the regular season. He worked on a limited basis Thursday and Friday, but coach Gary Kubiak said they would put him through some pregame drills before making a decision.

LINEUP CHANGES: Four-year veteran Jo-Lonn Dunbar, who started last week’s game at strongside linebacker, will likely start in Vilma’s place.

The Saints are also expected to shift weakside linebacker Scott Shanle to the strong side and insert Jonathan Casillas into the lineup on the weak side.

Also, Will Smith, who is returning from a two-game NFL suspension for using a banned diuretic, will start at right defensive end. Turk McBride, who started on the right side in Smith’s absence, likely will start on the left side.

Ben Tate will start the game for the Texans in Foster’s place.

INACTIVES: In addition to Vilma, the Saints inactives are K Garrett Hartley (hip), WR Marques Colston (shoulder), CB Tracy Porter (calf), DE Jeff Charleston, DT Tom Johnson and C/G Matt Tennant.

The Texans’ other inactives are RB Derrick Ward (shoulder/ankle), CB Sherrick McManis, WR David Anderson, G Thomas Austin, T Andrew Gardner and QB T.J. Yates.

Saints-Texans: Three Things to Know

THREE THINGS TO KNOW

1. BREES ROLLING: Despite throwing a career-high 22 interceptions in 2010, Drew Brees has none this season. He’s actually gone 14 quarters and attempted 160 passes without a pick counting the wildcard playoff game at Seattle.

2. PAYBACK TIME: After starting 2-7 against the AFC in his first stint as a head coach, Sean Payton has won 10 of his last 12 from the other conference — including a win over Indianapolis in Super Bowl XLIV.

3. ANOTHER OPPORTUNITY: The Texans are 2-0 for the third time in the franchise’s 10-year history. They also started with two wins in 2007, finishing 8-8, and in 2010 before ending up with a 6-10 mark.

WHO HAS THE EDGE

Offense – Saints

Defense – Texans

Special teams – Saints

Intangibles – Saints

PREDICTION

The Texans lead the NFL in fewest yards allowed, fewest passing yards allowed and scoring defense after playing the Colts without Peyton Manning and Dolphins with Chad Henne. Drew Brees and his offense present a much different challenge.

SAINTS 31, TEXANS 21

–Sheldon Mickles

Vilma doubtful for game with Texans

Saints middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma was held out of practice again Friday because of an injury to his left knee and is doubtful for Sunday’s game with the Houston Texans in the Superdome.

Coach Sean Payton said Vilma didn’t have a setback, but the knee, which Vilma injured last week against Chicago, didn’t come around as quickly as they had hoped.

If Vilma can’t play, fourth-year pro Jo-Lonn Dunbar will start in the middle.

INJURY REPORT: Cornerback Tracy Porter (calf) practiced on a limited basis Friday and is questionable; while safety Jonathan Amaya (shoulder), weakside linebacker Jonathan Casillas (knee/foot), strong safety Roman Harper (ankle) and defensive tackle Tom Johnson (calf) are probable.

Amaya was limited Friday, but Casillas, Harper and Johnson had full participation.

Wide receiver Marques Colston (shoulder) and kicker Garrett Hartley (hip) won’t play.

FOSTER IFFY: For the Texans, running back Arian Foster (hamstring) was limited in practice and will be a game-time decision, coach Gary Kubiak said Friday.

Foster will be put through a series of drills on the field in warmups before a decision is made.

Running back Derrick Ward (shoulder/ankle) has already been ruled out of the game.

FOURCADE VISITS HALL: Former Saints quarterback John Fourcade will greet fans at the Saints Hall of Fame Museum at Gate B of the Superdome’s Plaza level from 10 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. Sunday.

The museum is open three hours before and for 45 minutes after each home game and is free to season-ticket holders.

Vilma, Porter sit out Thursday practice

Saints middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma and cornerback Tracy Porter did not practice again Thursday as the Saints continued their preparations for Sunday’s game with the Houston Texans in the Superdome.

Vilma injured his left knee just before halftime of last week’s game with the Chicago Bears, but came back in the second half. He was absent, however, when the Saints returned to the practice field for the first time Wednesday.

Porter didn’t play against the Bears after hurting his right calf in practice last week and could miss his second straight game if he doesn’t work on Friday.

Also missing practice were wide receiver Marques Colston (shoulder) and kicker Garrett Hartley (hip). Both are expected to be declared out the game on Sunday when coach Sean Payton updates the injury report for the final time after Friday’s practice.

Working on a limited basis Thursday were strong safety Roman Harper (ankle), linebacker Jonathan Casillas (foot/knee), safety Jonathon Amaya (shoulder) and defensive tackle Tom Johnson (calf). Harper and Casillas returned after missing Wednesday’s practice.

FOSTER WORKS: Texans running back Arian Foster was able to practice on a limited basis Thursday, but he’ll likely be listed as questionable at best for Sunday’s game.

Foster, the reigning NFL rushing champion, hurt his hamstring during the third preseason game and then aggravated the injury in last week’s 23-13 win over the Miami Dolphins.

Running back Derrick Ward (shoulder/ankle), wide receiver Jacoby Jones (knee) and cornerback Sherrick McManis (hamstring) did not practice again and Texans coach Gary Kubiak said Ward will likely miss the game.

Like Foster, inside linebacker DeMeco Ryans (elbow/Achilles), cornerback Jonathan Joseph (ankle), and wide receiver Kevin Walter (shoulder/thigh) were limited.

PRACTICE SQUAD UPDATE: Running back Joique Bell, was released from the 53-man active roster on Tuesday to make room for defensive end Will Smith, cleared waivers and was signed to the Saints practice squad.

Payton said Wednesday that they hoped Bell, who was their leading rusher in the preseason, would make it through waivers so he could be signed to the practice squad.

To make room for Bell on the eight-man practice squad, the Saints released running back Tristan Davis.

SMITH READY: After missing the first two regular-season games while serving a suspension for using a banned diuretic in 2008, Saints defensive end Will Smith is ready to make up for lost time against the Texans.

“I worked out every day, did things around the house,” Smith said after his first practice back Wednesday.

He said it was especially tough watching his teammates drop a 42-34 decision to the reigning Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers in the season opener.

“You see them struggling a little bit and you think, ‘I wish I was out there to help the guys,’ ” he said, “but there’s nothing you can do but be like a normal fan cheering them on.”

FASHION STATEMENT: The Saints will wear replica uniforms from the 1968 season, the franchise’s second year of existence, in Sunday’s game.

They’ll wear black jerseys with mustard-colored pants, the same throwback uniforms that were used for a nationally-televised Sunday night game with the Tampa Bay Bucs back in 2002.

Payton said Thursday he hadn’t seen the uniforms yet and that they were being used just as a changeup.

“A lot of teams have done it, and generally, it’s a chance to recognize the old uniform — and probably a chance to sell more jerseys as well,” he said.

DE Smith returns from two-game suspension

METAIRIE — After serving a two-game suspension for using a banned diuretic back in 2008, Saints veteran defensive end Will Smith practiced with the team Wednesday for the first time since training camp.

Smith, an eight-year veteran, was reinstated by the NFL on Monday and will play and start Sunday when the Saints go against the Houston Texans in the Superdome.

“I’m just glad to put it behind me,” said Smith, the Saints’ best pass rusher. “I know the coaches were always concerned about it, the fans, everyone was always concerned about it.

“I’m happy it’s over with so I don’t have to worry about it and can just focus on football, focus on the Houston Texans and focus on the rest of the year.”

Saints coach Sean Payton was certainly happy to have Smith back.

“Will had one of his better training camps prior to the suspension,” Payton said. “He’s in real good shape and anytime you get a player like Will Smith back, one of your captains and someone who’s been a steady player for us and gives us a ton of good snaps against the run and the pass, it can only help you.”

Smith was suspended for the first two regular-season games without pay, and, according to a ruling by the NFL, he’ll also forfeit his next two game checks. All told, it’ll cost him $352,941 a game or a total of just more than $1.41 million from his $6 million base salary this season.

DEFENSE HURTING: Smith’s return was good news for Payton and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who were minus three starters and a key backup for Wednesday’s workout.

Middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma (knee), strong safety Roman Harper (ankle) and cornerback Tracy Porter (calf) were the starters who were sidelined. Also out was weakside linebacker Jonathan Casillas (foot).

Payton was hopeful that Vilma, Casillas and Harper, who also missed last Wednesday’s practice, will be able to get some work in Thursday.

Kicker Garrett Hartley (hip) and wide receiver Marques Colston (shoulder) also didn’t participate in team drills although Colston, who had surgery to repair a fractured collarbone on Sept. 9, caught passes during individual drills.

Defensive tackle Tom Johnson (calf) was limited.

FOSTER SITS: Texans running back Arian Foster, who led the NFL in rushing last season with 1,616 yards and 16 touchdowns in 16 games, didn’t practice Wednesday because of a hamstring injury.

Foster injured his hamstring in the third preseason game and played sparingly in the season opener before aggravating the injury in Sunday’s 23-13 win over the Miami Dolphins. He has just 33 yards on 10 carries.

Running back Derrick Ward (shoulder/ankle), wide receiver Jacoby Jones (knee) and cornerback Sherrick McManis (hamstring) also did not work.

Linebackers Brian Cushing (knee) and DeMeco Ryans (elbow/Achilles), cornerback Jonathan Joseph (ankle), and wide receiver Kevin Walter (shoulder/thigh) were limited.

ROSTER MOVES: To make room for Smith on the 53-man active roster, the Saints waived running back Joique Bell.

Bell, a second-year pro, earned a roster spot with a strong training camp and exhibition season and Payton expressed interest in bringing him back to the practice squad if he clears waivers.

The Saints also made two changes to their practice squad, signing wide receiver Montez Billings and running back Tristan Davis and releasing quarterback Sean Canfield and defensive tackle Swanson Miller.

SCORING EXPLOSION: In their 1-1 start, the Saints have scored 30 points or more in their first two regular-season games for only the third time in the 45-year history of the franchise — also doing it in 1993 and 2009.

They’ve never scored 30 or more in three straight games to open a season, however, but will be trying to do it against the Texans on Sunday.