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JOESAM2002 09-25-2003 08:17 AM

McCarthy to stand pat........
 

McCarthy to stand pat with offense

Coordinator expects a return to form


Thursday September 25, 2003


By Jeff Duncan
Staff writer

The Saints' highly regarded offense is ranked No. 25 in the NFL and has scored five touchdowns, but coordinator Mike McCarthy isn't ready to call an audible after only three games.

"It's a 16-game season," McCarthy said. "We're happy with all the players that we have. It's just a matter of calling plays in better situations and players executing at a higher rate of efficiency. Quite frankly, we're not very far off."


The Saints set a club record with 432 points last season and led all NFC teams in points scored. Their 53 points are tied for 23rd in the NFL this season.

Unlike the 2001 season, when the offense struggled because of an injury to left tackle Willie Roaf, McCarthy said this year's problems are not isolated.

"We had plenty of blame to go around in that game (at Tennessee)," McCarthy said. "A big part of coaching is problem-solving. We've got to keep moving forward, and things will definitely start to fall our way. We need to score more points -- period."


STRONG START: Lost in the disappointment of the 1-2 start is the improved play of quarterback Aaron Brooks. Brooks has been one of the bright spots for the Saints' offense. He ranks fifth in the NFL with a 92.6 passer efficiency and a 63.9 completion percentage.

"Aaron has put together three very solid games," McCarthy said. "The quarterback position is probably the most consistent position right now on offense. If he just keeps going like he's going, we're going to be fine."


WAYNE'S WORLD: It's only three games into the season, but so far Indianapolis' most productive receiver has been Reggie Wayne, not Marvin Harrison.

The former John Ehret standout is taking advantage of defenses that concentrate their coverage on Harrison, a perennial Pro Bowler. Wayne has caught 15 passes for 202 yards and two touchdowns and enjoyed a breakout performance in the Colts' 23-13 win against Jacksonville, catching 10 passes for 141 yards and two touchdowns.

"I think it's a combination of things," Colts quarterback Peyton Manning said. "It's his third year now, and I think the light is turning on him. . . . I'm not hesitant to look his way at all."


FREENEY OUT: The Colts listed 15 players on their injury report, including defensive end Dwight Freeney. Freeney missed last week's game with a sprained ankle and is listed as doubtful. The starting right end set a Colts record with 13 sacks last season.

"I don't think Dwight is going to play this week," Colts coach Tony Dungy said. "We are going to try to let him run and see how he is by the end of the week. . . . He is coming along and doing better. We don't think it is going to be a long-term injury, but I would say that he is doubtful for this week." . . . Edgerrin James did not practice Wednesday because of a bad back and he could also miss Sunday's game. James was injured in last week's game against Jacksonville and was held out of practice Monday because of the injury. Dungy said the team was closely watching the two-time NFL rushing champ.


TICKET UPDATE: The Saints had about 2,000 tickets remaining for Sunday's game as of late Wednesday. The club has until 7:30 p.m. today to sell out the game in order to lift the local television blackout.

The Saints have sold out 23 consecutive regular-season and playoff games at the Superdome over the past four seasons and will look to push the streak to 24 vs. Indianapolis. If a sellout can be guaranteed, the game will be televised nationally on ESPN, as well as locally on Channel 54.


ETC.: The Saints re-signed running back Ki-Jana Carter on Wednesday and released wide receiver Derrick Lewis. They hope to re-sign Lewis to the practice squad if he clears waivers. The club also signed wide receiver Terrell Harris to the practice squad and released fullback Jeremy Allen. . . . The Saints also waived linebacker Curtis Holden from the reserve/injured list with an injury settlement. . . . In preparation for the Saints' first night game of the season, Haslett has moved Friday afternoon's practice from its usual 11 a.m. start to 4 p.m. Saturday's walk-through has been moved from 11 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. . . . Veteran safety Victor Green is expected to play Sunday for the first time since signing with the Saints on Sept. 15.


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