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JOESAM2002 08-13-2004 07:51 AM

Saints notebook, Brooks won't play.......

Saints Notebook: Brooks to miss preseason opener

Special to The Advocate

METAIRIE -- Quarterback Aaron Brooks will sit out the New Orleans Saints' preseason opener against the New York Jets tonight in the Superdome.
Brooks, who practiced on a limited basis early in the week, did not practice Thursday and will be held out as a precaution because he has a strained right quad muscle.

"He probably could play," coach Jim Haslett said after practice Thursday. "I just feel like he has not gotten enough work this week to play. We'll get him ready for next week. If this were Seattle, he'd play."

The Saints play at Green Bay next Saturday and open the season at home against Seattle on Sept. 4.

Todd Bouman will start at quarterback and give way to J.T. O'Sullivan, probably late in the first quarter. Haslett said Ryan Sorahan likely will play late in the game, but the game situation could change that.


In addition to Brooks, the other Saints who won't play are: S Tebucky Jones (groin), LBs Cie Grant (knee) and Roger Knight (knee), CB Keyuo Craver (ankle), WRs Derrick Lewis (hamstring) and Chris Vance (groin), TE Lamont Hall (knee), DL Willie Whitehead (knee) and S Steve Gleason (broken thumb).


Haslett said the Saints starters will play most of the first quarter.

After that, he will substitute freely throughout the remainder of the game. Between 75-78 players will be available.


Haslett said Michael Lewis will return the first couple of punts, then give way to former LSU WR Devery Henderson, a second-round draft choice.

"We're going to throw Devery to the wolves and let him catch a few punts," Haslett said. "That'll be interesting, catching a punt in the Dome for the first time."

Former Tulane WR Kerwin Cook might also field punts if the Saints force enough of them. Lewis will be the first kickoff returner, followed by Aaron Stecker and Ronney Jenkins.


Haslett said he told second-round draft choice Courtney Watson, who will start at middle linebacker, that the spotlight will be on him and Jonathan Vilma, the 12th selection in the first round, who's New York's No. 2 middle linebacker. "That should be a heck of a battle," Haslett said.


Haslett said the Jets' offense provides a good test for his defense.

"They have a heck of a quarterback (Chad Pennington) and two excellent running backs in Curtis Martin and LaMont Jordan," he said. "They're as good as you're going to get. They've got a good, strong offensive line, speed at receiver and a tight end that can really run (Anthony Becht)."


The whole team worked on the new turf in the Superdome for the first time Wednesday evening. The "Momentum" brand turf is similar to the turf that was installed in the Dome midway through last season. Cornerback Fred Thomas said the only differences he noticed was that the blades are shorter and there are fewer pieces of shredded rubber scattered among the blades.


The offensive line held off the best four pass rushers -- Will Smith, Brian Young, Darren Howard, and Charles Grant -- and gave Bouman enough time to complete a 15-yard pass over the middle to Stecker, who had gotten behind safety Deveron Harper.


Though Thursday was the mildest day in regards to temperature of training camp, the Saints moved into their indoor practice facility because of a threat of rain. The team worked in shells for an hour and 40 minutes as a couple of hundred fans watched from the sideline.


The game will be televised live on WGMB, Channel 44. The Saints' preseason TV announcing team consists of Tim Brando, who did play-by-play on the Carolina Panthers' preseason games from 1996-2000, ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski and former Saints quarterback Archie Manning.


After tonight's preseason opener, the players are off Saturday. The Saints return to the practice field for one workout from 3-5 p.m. Sunday. That practice is open to the public.

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