this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; After laying an egg in their preseason opener, the Saints are eager to give the home crowd something to cheer about tonight against Buffalo Friday, August 10, 2007 By Mike Triplett JACKSON, MISS. -- Tonight, the Saints get a do-over. ...
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|08-10-2007, 06:23 PM||#1|
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Clearing The Air
After laying an egg in their preseason opener, the Saints are eager to give the home crowd something to cheer about tonight against Buffalo
Friday, August 10, 2007
By Mike Triplett
JACKSON, MISS. -- Tonight, the Saints get a do-over.
When they take the field at the Superdome against the Buffalo Bills, they will have a chance to erase the bad vibes from Sunday night's 20-7 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Hall of Fame Game.
They also will have a chance, as linebacker Scott Shanle put it, to show the home fans "what the 2007 Saints are going to look like."
"We want to come out and look good," said Saints tailback Deuce McAllister, who will make his preseason debut tonight. "That's pretty much every game, but especially coming off the game we had the week before. And we're at home. I think that will make a difference. The crowd will be excited to see us."
Winning is not always the most important thing in the preseason. But sometimes there is a little more incentive to try to look your best.
Many Saints players speculated that the Steelers went a little deeper into the playbook on offense and defense to make a strong first impression under new coach Mike Tomlin.
Even though this is the second of five preseason games for the Saints, Coach Sean Payton said he does feel it is meaningful from a confidence and morale standpoint.
"I think it's important. I think it's important after last week, and I think our players understand that," Payton said. "You can't just turn it on and off, and we've talked about it this whole week."
Payton said he doesn't plan to get more exotic with his play-calling in order to win. And the starters will still only play about one quarter, as he originally planned.
"It's not as much about the Xs and Os, it's about matching the energy and playing with a little passion. That's what we're looking to see," Payton said. "I think it's still about the fundamentals and the energy and the enthusiasm and the want-to."
Tonight will be especially important for a handful of new faces in the starting lineup.
Safety Roman Harper, who missed almost all of last season with a torn knee ligament, will return to action for the first time.
Cornerback Jason David, who signed as a restricted free agent, will start ahead of Fred Thomas as the two continue to battle for that job.
Defensive tackle Kendrick Clancy, another free agent who signed late in the summer, will start ahead of incumbent Hollis Thomas, who has struggled with his weight and his endurance during camp.
Linebacker Dhani Jones, offensive tackle Zach Strief and center Jonathan Goodwin will start as injury replacements for Scott Fujita, Jammal Brown and Jeff Faine.
Also, tight end Eric Johnson will play more with the first-team offense, Payton said. Receiver Terrance Copper will fill in for injured David Patten as the No. 3 receiver. And punter Chris Hanson will start ahead of Steve Weatherford, a reverse from last week.
"I probably will be a little bit nervous," said Harper, who has not played since his injury last October at the Superdome. "But I just have to go out there and play like I know I can. It really does feel like (I'm starting over again). It will be the longest time I've been without football in my whole life. So I've just got to take my time with it, get back out there and play ball."
David, who allowed a 41-yard pass play in the second quarter against the Steelers, said he has a tendency to be hard on himself, being a new guy in this defense and wanting to make his best impression.
"Man, since I've been out here, it's been an audition," David said. "From my practice habits to my meeting-room habits. But this is the preseason, so I don't want to go out there and put too much pressure on myself and expect to play the best game ever. I just want to go out there and perform a little better than I did last week and just have fun."
David and Harper said they feel the pride of the Saints' secondary is on the line tonight. Last season, the secondary was the most beleaguered unit on the roster. And it started the preseason with a dud last week against Pittsburgh, allowing 205 passing yards in the first half.
"I think we just need to go out there and show that we can still play ball," Harper said. "I think last week we didn't put our best foot forward, and this week that's what we want to do. We want to start out fast.
"Alignment, assignment, all the little things like that -- and just put some confidence back in Coach Payton that we still know how to play ball."