CLEVELAND — The cameras caught some fireworks on the Saints’ sideline during Sunday’s 26-24 loss to the Cleveland Browns.
As the New Orleans defense began to struggle late in the game, coach Sean Payton approached defensive coordinator Rob Ryan and appeared frustrated as he let out a string of words and gestured at Ryan.
It looked like the two men were not pleased with one another, but Payton downplayed the situation and said it is normal for emotions to boil over, and things like this happen “every game.”
Former Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel came in for one play in the third quarter and handed off to Browns running back Isaiah Crowell for a 2-yard gain before coming out again for starter Brian Hoyer.
Johnny Football’s fleeting foray prompted Saints radio analyst Hokie Gajan to crack, “Boy, that’ll keep you up at night, won’t it?”
Manziel returned later in the quarter as well. He handed the ball off again out of a pistol formation, then threw an incomplete pass to Ray Agnew after rolling out to the left to avoid a pass rush.
The Saints are 0-2 to start the season for the 21st time in franchise history. The only time they made the playoffs after such a start was in 1990 as a wild-card team.
Of the 21 times the Saints have started a season at least 0-2, it’s their smallest combined margin of defeat ever (minus-5).
The Saints lost by three at Atlanta (37-34) and by two Sunday to the Browns (26-24). That eclipses the 0-2 start by the 1995 Saints, who lost by two to San Francisco (24-22) and by four at St. Louis (17-13).
Colston’s streak ends
Wide receiver Marques Colston was likely looking to bounce back after fumbling on the Saints’ final possession in a Week 1 overtime loss to the Atlanta Falcons.
That didn’t happen Sunday.
The wide receiver was held without a catch for the first time in 86 games and did not appear to be targeted during the game.
Colston’s streak was the third-longest in team history, trailing Eric Martin (114 games) and Hoby Brenner (124 games).
After missing the Saints’ Week 1 loss at Atlanta with a lingering quadriceps injury, wide receiver Kenny Stills returned Sunday.
Starting opposite Colston, Stills caught three passes for 25 yards. He led the NFL with 20 yards per catch and had five touchdowns as a rookie for the Saints in 2013.
His return meant Saints wide receiver Joseph Morgan was deactivated after playing in the season opener but not making a catch on three targets, two of which were deep.
Another new inactive was second-year defensive end Glenn Foster. His spot was taken by nose tackle John Jenkins, who was a healthy scratch for the contest in Atlanta.
Jenkins did not record any statistics.
The rest of the Saints’ inactives were out the first week of the season: rookie cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste, reserve offensive lineman Senio Kelemete, fullback Erik Lorig, safety Marcus Ball and wide receiver Nick Toon.
Lorig and Ball have been battling ankle and hamstring injuries, respectively. The rest are healthy.
Linebacker David Hawthorne suffered an ankle injury during the second half of the game and did not return. He was replaced by Ramon Humber. … Former LSU defensive end Ke-Ke Mingo was among the Browns inactives Sunday with a shoulder injury. ... Drew Brees passed for 237 yards, giving him 51,651 for his career. He moved past former Broncos’ quarterback John Elway (51,475 yards) for fourth all time. Brees now trails Dan Marino (61,361), Peyton Manning (65,233 entering Sunday), and Brett Favre (71,838) on the leader board. ... The Saints punted on their first four drives Sunday. They had 345 yards on their next four. ... The Browns were 1-14 in home openers after coming back into the league in 1999 entering Sunday. .... After missing six tackles last week, safety Kenny Vaccaro made several open-field tackles, including a touchdown-saving one on tight end Jim Dray in the first half.
-- Advocate sportswriters Nick Underhill, Scott Rabalais and Ramon Antonio Vargas contributed to this report