Inside the Saints.....
INSIDE THE SAINTS
Sunday September 21, 2003
By Brian Allee-Walsh
The Saints won't need punter Mitch Berger as their emergency quarterback after all. That role will be filled today by third-string quarterback J.T. O'Sullivan, who was re-signed Saturday. The team waived running back Ki-Jana Carter. O'Sullivan had been waived Tuesday to make room for free agent safety Victor Green. It is the second time Carter has been waived in three weeks. He was released Aug. 31 and re-signed Sept. 9.
Saints tight end Ernie Conwell and his family lease a home in Mandeville, but they make their offseason home in Nashville, Tenn. The Conwells purchased a home this winter two doors from Tennessee Titans defensive end Kevin Carter. The two were former teammates with the St. Louis Rams. "Kevin's actually getting me some tickets for this game 'cause I know they get better tickets being the home team than we do as the visiting team," Conwell said. Conwell is studying to become a minister at Victory Leadership Institute in Nashville. Conwell said he would have tried to sign with the hometown Titans, but they have a good tight end in Frank Wycheck. Wycheck is questionable for today's game with a concussion. "Frank is Mr. Tennessee, Mr. Titan,' " Conwell said. "He's a great guy. I hope he gets healthy."
OLDIES BUT GOODIES
Today's game features two of the most productive and accurate kickers in the NFL. For Tennessee, Gary Anderson, 44, is in his 22nd season. The Titans signed him Sept. 10 following Joe Nedney's season-ending knee injury. Anderson leads the NFL in scoring (2,223) and field goals (494). Saints kicker John Carney, 39, is in his 14th season. He ranks third among active kickers in scoring (1,342) and field goals (323). "Gary's an inspiration," Carney said. "There are a lot of specialists right now who are trying to follow in Gary's footsteps. He's raising the ceiling for everybody. He and Morten Andersen have been battling back and forth on the points chart and the field goal charts. It's a testament to their training, their health, their focus and their talent. I can't be complaining about being old because those guys are really pushing the envelope. But I'm excited to see Gary back in the league. It's great for football and it's great for him."
Carney is playing in his 200th NFL game today. He took a moment this week to reflect on his lengthy career. "It's time for me to thank the good Lord that I've had an opportunity to play this game," Carney said. "He's kept me healthy. It's been exciting. I've been able to experience a lot of wonderful things thanks to the NFL. Hopefully I can ride this wave a little bit longer." Carney, who signed a five-year, $4.4 million contract in March, said he plans to play the length of his deal and possibly longer. "I think my body will tell me how long," he said. "And if my body doesn't tell me, then the coach probably will."
The Titans have not allowed a 100-yard rusher at home in 22 consecutive games, dating to the sixth game of the 2000 season. It is the longest active streak in the NFL. Jacksonville Jaguars running back Fred Taylor was the last player to hit the century mark when he rushed for 112 yards on Oct. 16, 2000. Tennessee won that game 27-13. Taylor is the only running back in 33 regular-season games played at The Coliseum to rush for 100 yards.
Although nursing a variety of bumps and bruises, Saints wide receiver Joe Horn did not make the league's weekly injury report. Why? Because Horn considers himself to be a Sunday warrior, and disdains going in for daily treatment. Saints coach Jim Haslett encouraged Horn to take better care of himself in the days leading up to games.
HAVES, HAVE NOTS
Tennessee wide receiver Derrick Mason leads his team with 20 receptions for 197 yards and one touchdown. The team's No. 2 wideout, Drew Bennett, has no catches in two games.
"Titans' offense is nothing to write home about right now, but too many injuries on the Saints' defense." Tennessee 23, New Orleans 20 -- ESPN.com senior writer Len Pasquarelli.
BY THE NUMBERS
7-1 -- Tennessee's home record against NFC opponents since moving into The Coliseum in 1999. Washington is the lone NFC team to win there, beating the Titans 31-14 on Oct. 6, 2002. The Titans have defeated Philadelphia, Tampa Bay, Green Bay, the New York Giants, Dallas, Atlanta and St. Louis.
25-8 -- The Titans' home record at The Coliseum, third best in the NFL since 1999, behind Green Bay (27-6) and St. Louis (26-7).
18-2 -- The Titans' record under Coach Jeff Fisher against teams playing in The Coliseum for the first time. The Saints are making their first appearance.
"I don't see how anybody can be frustrated with him. Just look at the big plays and his passer rating last week (111.5). He is a dynamic player with a phenomenal arm. He's got a rocket. He makes good decisions. He is only going to get better." -- Titans coach Jeff Fisher on Saints quarterback Aaron Brooks.
PROJECTED PLAYER OF GAME
Saints return specialist Michael Lewis is long overdue to break a long return. Seattle and Houston held him in check the first two games. He has returned eight punts for a 5.8-yard average, with a long of nine yards. He has returned five kicks for a 25.0-yard average, with a long of 37. The Titans' special teams are susceptible.
The Saints and Titans last played Oct. 17, 1999, at the Superdome. Tennessee rallied from a 10-0 halftime deficit to win 24-21. The Saints were their own worst enemies, blowing an opportunity to extend their halftime lead and failing to score on first-and-goal from the Titans' 1. Twice, former Saints coach Mike Ditka responded to heckling fans with obscene gestures, once at halftime and again after the game. The next day Ditka was fined $20,000 by the Saints' organization. "Sometimes getting old is not getting smart," a repentant Ditka said. "What I did was probably as stupid as anything I've ever done."
Inside the Saints.....
I can\'t uderstand why the Saints would cut Ki Jana again. What could they possibly be thinking?
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