New Orleans Saints rookie running back Kendre Miller (25) scores a seven-yard rushing score while being tackled by Chargers rookie linebacker Daiyan Henley (0) on Sunday, August 20. 2023 (Jevon Moore/L.A. Sentinel)

Los Angeles Chargers coach Brandon Staley pointed out the playmaking ability of fifth year quarterback Easton Stick after week one of the NFL preseason.

Stick showcased great instincts again in his second start by rushing for 63 yards and two touchdowns on seven carries but struggled with accuracy as the Chargers fell to the New Orleans Saints 22-17 on Sunday evening at SoFi Stadium.

Chargers star play caller Justin Herbert did not suit up joining a majority of key starters who rested after competitive joint practices with the Saints on Thursday and Friday.

“I think that it was an uneven performance in the passing game for us. We didn’t protect the passer very well. I didn’t think that we threw it with accuracy,” Staley said. “Certainly, the three turnovers, that really told the story tonight.”

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Stick, who has only taken two snaps in his first four seasons for Los Angeles completed 21 of 41 passes for 233 yards and two interceptions, playing the entire game while competing for the backup quarterback position with rookie seventh round draft pick Max Duggan.

Los Angeles Chargers rookie wide receiver Quentin Johnston (1) catches a pass during a 22-17 loss against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday, August 20. 2023 (Jevon Moore/L.A. Sentinel)

He also lost a fumble as he was sacked by New Orleans defensive end Payton Turner and rookie first round tackle Bryan Bresee was able to recover it for the Saints in the second quarter.

“I appreciate Coach letting me go the full game. Just disappointed the way it ended,” Stick said. “I haven’t had a chance to play an extended period like that before. It will be big for me to go back and watch it and learn from it.”

Jameis Winston led the Saints by completing 13 of 21 passes for 169 yards. New Orleans third round running back Kendre Miller found the endzone on a seven-yard rushing score in the second period while finishing with 59 total yards.

“As we go out there and look at this film, I’m pretty sure we gonna find something that we can execute better on, but we are getting better every single day and I’m happy we got this win,” said Winston.

The Saints committed 14 penalties for 141 yards in the game and had multiple touchdowns called back.

“We won the game and I’m pleased about that, but there is a ton of crap that needs to be cleaned up,” Saints coach Dennis Allen said.

Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Easton Stick (2) completed 21 of 41 passes for 233 yards and rushed for two touchdowns during a 22-17 loss against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday, August 20. 2023 (Jevon Moore/L.A. Sentinel)

Los Angeles first-round wide receiver Quentin Johnston recorded three catches for 37 yards and flashed his speedy route running one week after catching an eight-yard touchdown in his preseason debut against the Rams.

Chargers third-round pick Daiyan Henley, who started at linebacker, finished with a team-high nine tackles, also recording a sack while flying around the field.

“He was aggressive,” Staley said. “You see what an outstanding tackler he is. He can really feel the run game. He’s physical, outstanding in the blitz game. He just needs to keep improving.”

Stick scored on a six-yard rush in the second quarter and a one-yard rush in the fourth to get the Chargers within five, 22-17 with 3:46 remaining. Los Angeles then converted on a wild fourth-and-23 play that saw Stick connect with Terrell Bynum with just under two minutes to play.

On another fourth down play, Stick looked for Bynum again but was picked off by Lonnie Johnson Jr. near the end zone with 53 seconds left, clinching the win for the Saints.

“[Stick] needed to play in a game like this,” Staley said. “He was able to fight through some things. He was able to give us a chance to win in the two-minute drill.”

The Chargers will close out their preseason finale with a road matchup against the San Francisco 49ers on Friday at 7:00 p.m.