Houston's Andre 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.
Matt 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.
Drew Brees was four of six for 104 yards and a touchdown for the Saints (3-0) before sitting down after the third possession. 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.
Backup Luke McCown came in with 8 eight minutes left in the second quarter. He finished with 118 yards and two touchdowns.