HOUSTON (AP) — Andre Johnson was in midseason form, and the rest of Houston's young receiving group looked pretty good, too.
Johnson had 131 yards receiving before halftime in his first extended work of the preseason Sunday against the New Orleans Saints.
But New Orleans' backups scored two touchdowns in the second half to help the Saints to a 31-23 victory.
Johnson didn't play in the preseason opener and had less than a quarter of work last week. On Sunday, he grabbed seven of the eight passes thrown to him, highlighted by a 39-yard reception.
"When we sit down and game plan I try to figure out ways to get Andre the ball," coach Gary Kubiak said. "It's a compliment to the other guys that Andre's able to get the ball so much."
The Texans don't have a lot of experience at receiver behind Johnson, an 11-year veteran. But Kubiak has been impressed by the development of Lestar Jean, who had 36 yards receiving Sunday, and Keshawn Martin, who finished with 10. The group is also expected to get a boost this season from first-round draft pick DeAndre Hopkins, who missed Sunday's game after sustaining a concussion last week.
"We just try to make the best of the opportunities," Johnson said. "We got a lot of opportunities in the first half of the game. I just did what I could."
Quarterback Matt Schaub raved about the group and said he has "total confidence" in the young players.
Schaub was 15 of 26 for 213 yards for Houston (2-1), and Ben Tate ran for 74 yards and a score filling in for Arian Foster.
"He looked very good," Kubiak said of Tate. "He's been our one healthy veteran back. I think Ben's ready. I think he's going to have a really good year."
Drew Brees was four of six for 104 yards and a touchdown for the Saints (3-0) before sitting down after the third possession.
"I felt like we were just kind of hitting our stride when a couple of us got pulled," Brees said.
With Marques Colston still sitting out with a left foot injury, rookie fifth-round pick Kenny Stills continued to impress with 54 yards receiving and a touchdown.
"I'm getting more comfortable and getting more used to being out there," Stills said. "It's about playing football and having fun, and that's really all it is."
Backup Luke McCown came in with 8 minutes left in the second quarter. He finished with 118 yards and two touchdowns.
Andy Tanner had 33 yards receiving with two touchdown receptions in the second half for New Orleans.
Tate piled up 51 yards on Houston's second drive, with the highlight coming on a 39-yard run when he darted to the outside and cut back in for the big gain. He capped it with a 1-yard run that gave Houston a 7-0 lead.
Schaub was sacked by Cameron Jordan when he manhandled Derek Newton on third down on Houston's next possession and the Texans settled for a 48-yard field goal from Randy Bullock.
Johnson beat his coverage and was wide open for the 39-yard reception in the second quarter. Schaub was sacked after that and Houston's offense stalled before Bullock made it 13-7 with a 55-yard field goal.