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JOESAM2002 09-23-2003 09:55 AM

Carter likely out and Saints update.....
Saints News

Carter likely out four more weeks

Colts wide receivers challenge for Ambrose

Tuesday September 23, 2003

By Brian Allee-Walsh
Staff writer

Veteran cornerback Dale Carter likely will miss another four games while recovering from surgery to repair his left orbital socket, Saints coach Jim Haslett said Monday.

Carter is scheduled to begin his conditioning program this week and possibly be ready for contact the week of the Carolina Panthers game Oct. 26.

Carter's absence was felt Sunday. Tennessee Titans' wide receiver Drew Bennett established single-game highs for receptions (eight), receiving yards (105) and caught one touchdown. Many of his catches came against Saints cornerback Ashley Ambrose.

It doesn't get any easier for Ambrose. The Indianapolis Colts come to town Sunday night with wide receivers Marvin Harrison and New Orleanian Reggie Wayne, who rank eighth and 11th in the AFC with 16 and 15 receptions.

"Ashley struggled, but I know he will come back this week and play a heck of a game," Haslett said. "This is going to be a hell of a challenge this week for all of us."

INJURY REPORT: Haslett said the team suffered no major injuries Sunday. Defensive tackle Johnathan Sullivan (knee) and linebacker Cie Grant (knee) are out at least another week.

LINE OF FIRE: The Saints offensive line is under the microscope after failing to open holes for running back Deuce McAllister, who rushed 11 times for 8 yards against the Titans.

"They didn't play very well yesterday, mostly in the interior. I thought our edge people played pretty well. But we didn't play real well up front and inside," Haslett said.

The Titans moved defensive end Kevin Carter inside to work against the Saints interior line -- guards Kendyl Jacox and LeCharles Bentley and center Jerry Fontenot.

SOMETHING TO PONDER: How the Saints respond from Sunday's 27-12 loss at Tennessee in upcoming games against the Indianapolis Colts (3-0) and Carolina Panthers (2-0) will go a long way in determining their season. They could be 1-4 going into the Chicago Bears game Oct. 9 if they continue to flounder or 3-2 if they follow the leads of Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden and Titans safety Lance Schulters. Consider:

-- "The sign of a good team is they come back strong after a loss," Gruden said after his team's 31-10 victory against Atlanta. A week earlier, Carolina upset the Buccaneers 12-9 in overtime.

-- "We were upset. We were mad at the coaches, mad at the press, mad at everybody. We play better when we're mad," Schulters after his team's 27-12 victory against the Saints. A week earlier, the Colts pounded the Titans 33-7.

AROUND THE LEAGUE: Saints quarterback Aaron Brooks ranks fourth in the NFC with a 92.6 passing rating. . . . Saints punter Mitch Berger continues to lead the NFC with a 42.7-yard net average. He ranks second in the NFL behind Buffalo Bills punter Brian Moorman (43.0). . . . Although teams have been successful keeping Saints return specialist Michael Lewis in check, the Saints' average start is their 32.6, third best in the NFL.

BY THE NUMBERS: 14-23 -- Saints record in prime time, 2-2 under Haslett. 4-8 -- Saints' record on ESPN, 2-2 under Haslett. 15 -- Saints' defensive ranking after three games, down from No. 9 a week ago. 25 -- Saints offensive ranking after three games, down from No. 14 a week ago.

WORTH REPEATING: "I am disappointed. I hate Mondays. Win or lose I hate Mondays. Mondays are bad for coaches, and when you lose it is worse." -- Haslett.

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