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Team Report: Strategy and Personnel

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; The Saints got one defensive lineman back when defensive tackle Rodney Leisle played in Monday night's game against the Atlanta Falcons, but they lost another during the first half of the contest. Rookie defensive end Rob Ninkovich, a fifth-round draft ...

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Old 09-29-2006, 07:15 PM   #1
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Team Report: Strategy and Personnel

The Saints got one defensive lineman back when defensive tackle Rodney Leisle played in Monday night's game against the Atlanta Falcons, but they lost another during the first half of the contest.

Rookie defensive end Rob Ninkovich, a fifth-round draft pick who worked his way up the depth chart in training camp and earned a job as the third end in the rotation with veterans Charles Grant and Will Smith, injured his right knee against the Falcons.
Saints coach Sean Payton said during his news conference on Tuesday that he didn't have all the details on the injury, but that it appeared to be serious. Ninkovich, who was also the team's backup long snapper, said he strained the MCL and slightly tore the ACL in his knee.

Doctors will wait until later in the week when the swelling goes down to determine if Ninkovich needs season-ending surgery.


PLAYER NOTES

--DE Rob Ninkovich strained the medial collateral ligament and slightly tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee Monday night and won't play against Carolina. Doctors will determine later this week when the swelling goes down if Ninkovich needs surgery to repair the torn ACL.

--FS Bryan Scott re-injured his left hamstring in the Saints' win over the Falcons and has been ruled out of Sunday's game with the Panthers.

--WR Devery Henderson, the third man on the field in the three-wide receiver set, has a shoulder injury and is questionable for Sunday.

--RCB Fred Thomas hurt his hip in the fourth quarter of Monday night's game with the Falcons and is questionable for the Panthers.

--MLB Danny Clark also has a hip injury and is listed as questionable for Sunday's game with the Panthers.

GAME PLAN: The Saints will no doubt try to explore the Panthers' run defense after watching the Atlanta Falcons go for 252 yards on the ground in the season opener and 152.0 yards per game overall. The Saints have not lit anyone up with 116.7 yards per game and 3.6 yards per carry, but they've been effective using the tandem of Deuce McAllister and Reggie Bush to loosen up defenses and make them more vulnerable to the passing game.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Saints RT Jon Stinchcomb vs. Panthers LDE Julius Peppers. Stinchcomb, who has only three career starts (all this year), has done pretty well to this point. But he'll definitely step up in class this week when he goes against Peppers, who is tied for third in the NFL with four sacks. Peppers will give Stinchcomb a steady diet of all his best moves, so getting some help from a tight end will likely be necessary.

--Saints LCB Mike McKenzie vs. Panthers WR Steve Smith. McKenzie will have his hands full with Smith, who came off a hamstring injury to catch seven balls for 112 yards in his season debut last week. Smith caught 14 passes for 223 yards and two TDs in two games against the Saints last season, so McKenzie and RCB Fred Thomas will have to be at their best to keep him under control.

--Saints RBs Deuce McAllister and Reggie Bush vs. Panthers' front seven. McAllister's been steady, but Bush has had trouble getting started on the ground. But they could be looking at breaking out against a Panthers team that has allowed 152.0 yards a game -- a trend that started with giving up 252 yards to the Atlanta Falcons in the season opener.

INJURY IMPACT: DE Rob Ninkovich is out for Sunday's game with a knee injury, which means the Saints have only two healthy defensive ends for their rotation -- starters Will Smith and Charles Grant.

--DT Willie Whitehead, who began his career as a defensive end before being shifted inside, will likely take Ninkovich's spot as the backup on both sides to Smith and Grant.

--FS Bryan Scott is out for Sunday's game with the Panthers because of a hamstring injury. Veteran Omar Stoutmire had already taken Scott's spot in the dime package and will play that role again Sunday.

--WR Devery Henderson is questionable for Sunday's game with a shoulder injury. If he can't go, the third wideout on the field would likely be first-year player Lance Moore.

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