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JOESAM2002 08-19-2003 02:29 PM

Saints Report.....
Saints report: Strategy and personnel Aug. 18, 2003

Notes, quotes, anecdotes | Inside slant BATTLE OF THE WEEK: Jerome Pathon vs. Donte Stallworth for starting wide receiver spot -- Pathon started ahead of Stallworth, the projected starter throughout the off-season, for the second straight game against the Jets. The battle for the No. 2 wideout spot behind three-time Pro Bowl pick Joe Horn continues into the final days of training camp, but regardless of the outcome, both will get plenty of playing time because the Saints use a lot of three-wide receiver sets in their West Coast offense.
Spencer Folau vs. Victor Riley for starting right tackle -- This one is still up for grabs after another competitive week. Riley was given a chance to make his mark with the first-team offense late in the first half against the Jets, but the race is still too close to call.

Fred Thomas vs. Ashley Ambrose for starting right cornerback -- Thomas appears to be holding off Ambrose, but like wide receiver, they'll both play a lot when the Saints go to their nickel defense. Ambrose continues to get lots of playing time with the first-team defense in the absence of injury left corner Dale Carter.

Rookie defensive end Melvin Williams had three sacks in the fourth quarter of the win over the Jets. The significant thing about his play is that Williams, a fifth-round draft pick out of Kansas State, couldn't practice the first week of training camp because he failed his physical. He tore his ACL in the Holiday Bowl in late December and had surgery in January, but is playing and practicing at a high level after getting on the field for the first time on Aug. 4.

Defensive tackle Johnathan Sullivan (D1) continues to hold on to the starting spot at the three-technique. ... Tackle Jon Stinchcomb (D2) is being tried at all four offensive line positions other than center. ... Middle linebacker Cie Grant (D3) is getting back to work after recovering from a hamstring injury. ... Guard Montrae Holland (D4) started his second straight game in place of the injured LeCharles Bentley. ... Defensive end Melvin Williams (D5) put on a strong pass rush to record three sacks in the fourth quarter against the Jets. ... Wide receiver Kareem Kelly (D6) has been coming on lately after getting over a sprained ankle, and wide receiver Talman Gardner (D7) had two nice catches in the win over the Jets.

TE David Sloan, who underwent arthroscopic shoulder surgery on Aug. 4, returned to practice late last week and was able to work in the individual and seven-on-seven drills.

--G LeCharles Bentley, who has been bothered by a strained pectoral muscle, also returned to work with the first-team offense, but did not play against the Jets.

--In addition to Sloan and Bentley, nine other players were held out of the Jets game. They were CB Dale Carter (knee tendinitis), CB Fakhir Brown (shoulder), DT Henry Ford (ankle), T Scott Sanderson (hernia surgery), S Corey Hall (hamstring), LB J.J. Jones (knee), DT Jovon Bush (knee), G Peter Heyer (shoulder), and G Melvin Paige (hamstring).

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