Dalton to retain Saints starting QB berth despite Winston's return to fitness

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Andy Dalton will retain the starting quarterback berth for the New Orleans Saints despite the return to practice of Jameis Winston, head coach Dennis Allen has confirmed.

Winston injured his back in the Week 1 win over the Atlanta Falcons and initially played through the pain barrier in the following two games.

He was eventually sidelined to allow him to recover, with Dalton, signed as a backup to Winston, starting under center after the Saints' attempts to bring in Deshaun Watson were unsuccessful.

Allen explained his reasoning for sticking with Dalton, telling reporters: "Andy's gonna get the start again this week [against the Las Vegas Raiders.

"I feel like he's played well. Offensively, I feel like we're in a little bit of a rhythm. We've been moving the ball effectively, we've scored points. And so we're gonna continue down that road with Andy as the quarterback."

This season, Dalton has completed on 63.4 per cent of his passes for 946 yards and seven touchdowns, while he has been sacked four times and been intercepted four times.

Last time out against the Arizona Cardinals, a game the Saints lost, Dalton threw for 361 yards and four touchdowns but also conceded three interceptions – two of which were returned for touchdowns.

However, Allen said he was looking for offensive continuity in the coming weeks.

"What I mean by that is in the last four weeks, we're one of the top offenses in terms of moving the ball, we're one of the top offenses in terms of scoring points," he added.  "And that's really the name of the game. So, we're gonna continue doing what we've been doing.

"We've gotta do a better job of protecting the football. And if we do that, I think we can be highly effective offensively."

Allen said Dalton will keep his position over a fully fit Winston as long as the team remain coherent with the ball in hand.

"Well, look, Jameis is back healthy right now. We're gonna go with Andy as we sit here right now. And if we continue to play well offensively and move the ball offensively, Andy will stay in there," Allen said.

"There's a lot of things that we're doing really well offensively. And I didn't feel like there was any need to upset the apple cart there. We'll keep going how we are. And if we continue to do that, then we'll stay the course."

The Saints (2-5) sit bottom of the NFC South and will look to ignite life into their season against the Raiders on Sunday.