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this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; SERIES HISTORY: 12th meeting. The Titans lead the series, 6-4-1, after winning the last three games and four of the last five matchups. The last time they met, on Sept. 21, 2003, the Titans held the Saints to 188 total ...

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Old 09-20-2007, 10:19 PM   #1
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SERIES HISTORY: 12th meeting. The Titans lead the series, 6-4-1, after winning the last three games and four of the last five matchups. The last time they met, on Sept. 21, 2003, the Titans held the Saints to 188 total yards in a 27-12 victory in Nashville, Tenn.

NOTES, QUOTES

—With so many games being decided by a field goal or less, Saints coach Sean Payton is showing some concern about kicker Olindo Mare.

Mare, who came to the Saints this offseason in a trade with the Miami Dolphins, has been wildly inconsistent in the team's last three games. He missed three field goals against his old team in the final exhibition game and is one of three in the first two regular-season outings.

The misses against the Dolphins were from 33, 50 and 55 yards and Mare missed from 52 in the season opener at Indianapolis. In a 31-14 loss to the Tampa Bay Bucs last week, he was wide left with a 38-yard attempt and hit a line-drive kickoff to start the second half.

"Yeah, you know we miss another field goal," Payton said. "We line-drive a kickoff to the 30. You know, defensively, offensively and on special teams, I'm concerned. We've lost the first two games of the season and it hasn't been pretty."

—After their loss to the Bucs, the Saints are 0-2 for the 17th time in franchise history.

The best the Saints have finished after starting a season with two straight losses is 8-8, which they did in 1979 and again in 1990.

While they were outscored 72-24 by the Indianapolis Colts and Bucs in the first two weeks, their most inglorious 0-2 start was in 1972, when they fell to the Atlanta Falcons (62-7) and Dallas Cowboys (40-3).

—The Saints will be trying to avoid an 0-3 start against the Tennessee Titans on Monday night in their home opener.

The last time the Saints opened a season with three consecutive losses was in 1997, which was Mike Ditka's first season with the team.

—The Saints are 0-2 against the Titans since the franchise moved from Houston to Tennessee after the 1996 season.

The Titans prevailed 24-21 in the Superdome in 1999 and dominated the Saints, 27-12, in Nashville, Tenn., in 2003.

—For the second straight year, the Saints will be the last team to play their home opener, when they meet the Titans on Monday night. A year ago, the Saints played the Atlanta Falcons on Monday night in the Superdome to close out the third week of the season.

The Saints, Falcons and Kansas City Chiefs were the only teams to start this season with two road games, but the Falcons and Chiefs will have their home openers Sunday afternoon.

—In response to phone calls from fans who want to show their support for their 0-2 team, the Saints are holding a fan rally on Friday at the club's training facility in Metairie.

"We are all working to get a win for our fans and get them excited," Saints owner Tom Benson said. "At the same time, our fans always provide that enthusiasm when we need it the most. The phone calls that we've gotten have shown that again."

BY THE NUMBERS: 0 — Sacks by the Saints defense after two games. They recorded seven in their first two games last season and went on to finish with 38.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "If we want to be the 'quote-unquote' No. 1 offense, we have to go put the work in. We have to go out there and execute. That's last year. We're 0-2. That's what we have to look at. The numbers don't lie." — Saints RB Deuce McAllister, on his team's offensive woes.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

Because of a turf toe injury to defensive tackle Kendrick Clancy, the Saints may have to count out on their best run stopper from a year ago when they go against the Tennessee Titans on Monday night.

Hollis Thomas lost his starting job to Clancy in training camp after Thomas reported to camp overweight and out of shape. Thomas was estimated to be at least 25 pounds over his reporting weight of 330 pounds and gave way to Clancy, who was signed in June, when the weight failed to come off.

Thomas has been part of the line rotation for the first two games, but his role could expand with Clancy ailing and the NFL's top running attack coming to the Superdome as the Titans are averaging a healthy 211.5 yards a game.


PLAYER PERSONNEL NOTES

—DT Kendrick Clancy, who suffered a right toe injury in last week's loss to the Tampa Bay Bucs, was not able to practice Wednesday.

Clancy could benefit from the next game being on Monday night, but remains day-to-day for the matchup with the Tennessee Titans.

—RB Deuce McAllister was held out of practice Wednesday with some swelling in his right knee. Coach Sean Payton said he held him out because they have an extra day of practice this week to prepare for Monday's game.

—S Jay Bellamy did not practice Wednesday after spraining his left ankle in Sunday's game with the Bucs. His status for Monday's game won't be known until later in the week.

—C/G Jonathan Goodwin has a mild back sprain, which kept him out of Wednesday's practice. Payton said earlier this week that Goodwin should be ready for Monday night.

—WR Titus Ryan has been signed to the Saints practice squad. He takes the place of quarterback Tyler Palko, who was added to the active roster last week.

GAME PLAN: Simply put, the Saints must get Deuce McAllister and Reggie Bush more involved in the offense. Last season, they got the ball on 48.1 percent of the team's plays, but in two games this year, they've gotten the ball on just 39.3 percent of the snaps. The result has been a big dropoff in production with an average of 108.0 yards between them this season compared to 160.1 last year. Their effectiveness will open up the passing game, which has struggled in the first two weeks. Defensively, the Saints have to stop the NFL's No. 1-ranked rushing attack through two games. If they can't keep the Titans under control, it's going to be a long night.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Saints front seven vs. Titans RBs LenDale White and Chris Brown. The Saints have done a better job stopping the run this season, but they'll be put to the test by the Titans. They lead the NFL through two weeks with 211.5 yards a game on the ground and will look to add to that total against the Saints, who were pounded a year ago for 128.9 yards a game.

—Saints RT Jon Stinchcomb vs. Titans LDE Kyle Vanden Bosch. Stinchcomb and his offensive linemates haven't gotten off to the start they did a season ago, so he'll have to be at his best when he goes against Vanden Bosch. With 19 sacks in the last two seasons, Vanden Bosch has established himself as one of the league's premier pass rushers and has added another sack to that total this season.

—RDE Will Smith vs. Titans LT Michael Roos. Smith had a career-high 10.5 sacks a year ago, but he's come up empty (along with the entire defense) in the first two games. So getting in the backfield and at least hurrying Vince Young and forcing him into bad decisions will be a key for the Saints this week.

INJURY IMPACT: DT Kendrick Clancy has a turf toe, which could keep him out of Monday night's game with the Tennessee Titans.

DT Hollis Thomas, who started 12 games a year ago, will get the starting nod if Clancy can't go against the Titans.

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