Below are five positives, and also five negatives, to take from the New Orleans Saints’ 23-20 road loss to the Carolina Panthers on Thursday night.

The setback dropped the Saints to 4-6 on the season.


1)—Sheldon Rankins: The rookie was impressive, compiling 5 tackles, including 1/2 tackle for a loss, as well as a quarterback hit.

2)—Craig Robertson: Yeah, he let Ted Ginn get by him late in the first half for a touchdown reception, but Ginn made a great catch, and it's probably unfair to expect a middle linebacker to cover the opposing team's fastest receiver down the field anyway. Still, Robertson led the defense with 9 tackles, and continues to make his under-the-radar signing during the offseason look better and better.

3)—Tim Hightower: Nothing spectacular, but he led the team in rushing, totaling 69 yards on 12 carries, while pulling in a team-high 8 receptions.

4)—Dannell Ellerbe: When he plays, he's very good, and makes the Saints better. Ellerbe had 4 tackles, including a sack, and a couple of quarterback hits. Let's just hope he stays healthy for a prolonged period of time now.

5)—Secondary: Playing with Delvin Breaux, the secondary, once again, showed something, holding Cam Newton to only 14-of-33 in pass attempts. Ken Crawley, B.W. Webb, and Vonn Bell all had pass break-ups.

Lagniappe: The Thursday night, color rush, white uniforms. I really like them!


1)—Special Teams: Just absolutely putrid! Once again, Wil Lutz had a low kick blocked, and returned to the end zone. Fortunately, the Panthers were called for a penalty on the return, which nixed the touchdown. Still, Carolina ended up getting a touchdown out it, while keeping the Saints from scoring what should have been three points. That's a big 10-point swing! Bottom line was that turned out to be the difference in the game. Also, Marcus Murphy got his first chance to return kicks in about a month, and promptly let a kickoff hit off his hands, and go out of bounds at the Saints' 1-yard line, which eventually helped the Panthers kick a field goal. You could make a legitimate argument that special teams have cost the Saints three games this year. Just PUTRID!!!

2)—Clock Management: The Saints called two timeouts on its final drive of the first half prior to the blocked field goal, giving the Panthers time to score a touchdown just before half. Manage the clock better there, and the Panthers don't score a touchdown. Maybe a field goal, but not a touchdown. Again, could have been the difference in the game.

3)—Mark Ingram: He left the game with a concussion, leaving the Saints real thin at the running back position. Hopefully, it isn't a prolonged thing.

4)—Coby Fleener: He fumbled once, although he did recover it, had a possible touchdown knocked out of his hands at the goal line, and was called for a false start in the red zone at the end of the first half.

5)—Delvin Breaux. Have to be patient with him, as he continues to recover from his broken fibula. He played in two games, but missed Thursday's game. You would think it's because the Saints played on a short week. Hopefully it wasn't setback. Still, Breaux not playing reminds you that he's not 100%.