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No Pressure In Preseason

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; Game vs. Bills will be all about evaluation By LARRY HOLDER lholder@sunherald.com JACKSON --For 30 NFL teams, this weekend marks the opening of the preseason. For the New Orleans Saints, they'll play it like it was their first. The Saints' ...

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Old 08-10-2007, 05:44 PM   #1
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Cool No Pressure In Preseason

Game vs. Bills will be all about evaluation

By LARRY HOLDER
lholder@sunherald.com


JACKSON --For 30 NFL teams, this weekend marks the opening of the preseason. For the New Orleans Saints, they'll play it like it was their first.

The Saints' starters will see about one quarter's worth of action tonight as they take on the Buffalo Bills at the Louisiana Superdome.

Quarterback Drew Brees and Co. played only a couple of series on Sunday night in the 20-7 loss to Pittsburgh in the Hall of Fame Game. The first-team defense saw slightly more playing time, but both units' time on the field shouldn't exceed more than the first 15 minutes.

Some interesting changes will be made when the first-team defense takes the field. Cornerback Jason David replaces Fred Thomas, defensive tackle Kendrick Clancy will start over Hollis Thomas and safety Roman Harper makes his first start since tearing his ACL last season.

David said Payton told him Thursday morning that he would be jumping into the starting lineup. The former Indianapolis Colts corner has been seeing more time with the first team in practice since began two weeks ago and has been outplaying Fred Thomas for virtually the entire camp.

"I don't want to try and put too much pressure on myself," David said. "I just want to go out there and play football. But my main focus right now is whether I'm with the first group or I'm with the last group finishing out the game is just to try and do better than last week."

Payton said there's a lot of competition at defensive tackle and he wants to see what Clancy can do. Antwan Lake will start beside Clancy while Hollis Thomas will be relegated to the second team.

"It's a combination of (Clancy) playing pretty well and Hollis needing to get his weight down," Payton said. "When it's hot like it is now, (Hollis) is not real productive and he understands that."

Brees will lead off the quarterback rotation by playing the first quarter, then rookie Tyler Palko will play at least the next half. Payton said he knows what he has with Jamie Martin and Jason Fife, who has been in the system for a year.

Rookie running back Antonio Pittman, the Saints' fourth-round pick out of Ohio State, will get an extended look as well.

The injury bug caught up to some of the Saints' key starters on offense and defense. Left tackle Jammal Brown is out with a bruised right knee he sustained during Tuesday morning's practice. Strongside linebacker Scott Fujita bruised his right heel during a trip to the water park and likely won't play. The team didn't qualify either injury as being serious.

Others who won't play include center Jeff Faine (calf), defensive tackle Brian Young (foot), defensive end Rob Ninkovich (knee), guard Dave Yovanovits (knee) and wide receiver David Patten (turf toe).

Running back Deuce McAllister will see his first game action of the preseason after sitting out against Pittsburgh. It's uncertain if defensive end Will Smith will play. He's missed the past couple of days because of an illness and a death in the family.

Despite this being the Saints' second exhibition, Payton's philosophy as far as his approach to the game will likely be the same as Bills coach Dick Jauron's viewpoint.

"It's still about evaluation," Payton said.

Brees did point out how preseason records can be very deceiving. He gave an example more extreme than last year's Saints. His rookie campaign in San Diego trumped the Saints' turnaround from 1-3 in the preseason to a combined 11-7 mark in the regular season and playoffs.

"(The Chargers) went 1-15 in my first season and they were 4-0 in the preseason, so that should tell you something," Brees said. "Obviously, we want to go out and look sharp in the preseason and figure out what kind of team you have. Obviously, you have so few snaps compared to an actual game and you're going through two-a-days.

"These aren't easy two-a-days. Guys are fatigued and they're tired. So there's no possible way to get enough rest between your last two-a-day and the game. We try to do as much as we can. There's no excuses. We want to look sharp, but the preseason is not like the season."

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