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this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; Blog & Tackle: Getting ready for New England NewOrleansSaints.com Aug 17, 2005 – 11:50 am Following a spirited workout in extreme heat and humidity on Tuesday -- the last open-to-the-public practice of training camp -- Coach Jim Haslett rewarded fans ...

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Old 08-17-2005, 02:46 PM   #1
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Blog & Tackle: Getting ready for New England

Blog & Tackle: Getting ready for New England
Aug 17, 2005 – 11:50 am
Following a spirited workout in extreme heat and humidity on Tuesday -- the last open-to-the-public practice of training camp -- Coach Jim Haslett rewarded fans who braved the elements by making sure the entire Saints team signed autographs. These are the times when you realize what a fan favorite Mike McKenzie is becoming. Unofficially, he and Joe Horn signed the most autographs on this day. Speaking of Horn, it's interesting to see how many fans ask him to sign their cell phone after his post-touchdown celebration from 2003.

Not intending to write a notebook on autograph signings, I'll quickly move into observations jotted down in my reporters' notebook &

Horn made several nice grabs in practice and may have had the best quote of training camp the other day when he told the media that he was looking to be more than "All-Metairie" when asked about how things were going at training camp ... No it's not a typo, the Saints currently have two players wearing No. 76 on the roster -- rookie free agents L.P. Ladouceur and Brandon Phillips. Phillips, who just joined the club this week, qualifies as the biggest man on the roster at 6-8, 310 pounds. At first glance, Phillips appears to be standing at the line of scrimmage rather than in his stance because he's so much taller than everyone else ... Another rookie free agent, cornerback Matthew Clark, had a couple of nice plays on Tuesday. The first was a break-up in the corner of the end zone during red zone drills and the second was an interception of an Adrian McPherson pass during team drills. Admittedly, I had to double-check my roster on exactly who was wearing No. 33. Clark was a two-year starter at UCLA and earned All-Pac 10 honors as a senior ... After having knee surgery a few days into training camp, tight end Shad Meier looks thisclose to returning to the field. Watching Meier do rehab work with trainer Scottie Patton, it would be hard for an untrained eye to detect any injury, let alone surgery less than three week ago ... Another player with a knee injury, Jon Stinchcomb, returned to camp on Tuesday. Out for the season after going down last week in practice, Stinchcomb is already doing exercises with Patton. One of the good guys on the team, everyone on Airline Drive is pulling for Stinchcomb to make a speedy recovery ... The Saints depart for New England directly after lunch on Wednesday.

--Paul Corliss

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Old 08-18-2005, 07:35 AM   #2
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NFL Preseason Preview - New Orleans (0-1) at New England (1-

NFL Preseason Preview - New Orleans (0-1) at New England (1-0)

SportsNetwork Game Preview

By Tony Moss, NFL Editor (Sports Network) - The defending Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots will make their initial home appearance of the 2005 season on Thursday night, as Bill Belichick's squad plays host to the New Orleans Saints at Gillette Stadium. The Pats, who were a perfect 9-0 at home between the regular season and playoffs last year, opened the preseason with a 23-13 win in Cincinnati this past Friday night. The visiting Saints, meanwhile, were 34-15 home losers to Seattle in their preseason lid-lifter. Expected to make his first appearance of 2005 will be Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who was held out against the Bengals, as was projected backup Doug Flutie. Brady, who earned the third Pro Bowl citation of his career in 2004, should play at least part of the first quarter before giving way to Flutie. Against Cincinnati, 2004 second-stringer Rohan Davey (4-7 passing, 42 yards, 1 INT) and seventh-round draft choice Matt Cassel (13-21, 135 yards, 1 TD) received most of the action at QB. Cassel, who had just 33 career pass attempts as the backup to Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart at USC, posted a strong bid to make the active roster in the victory. The highlight for the rookie was a 20-yard touchdown strike to Jason Anderson in the second quarter. Among those who may not play on Thursday night is running back Corey Dillon, who had four carries for 26 yards against the Bengals but has missed practice for most of this week in anticipation of the birth of he and his wife's second child. Linebacker Mike Vrabel, who injured his ankle in Cincinnati, is also unlikely to be in the lineup. The Saints, who are looking to improve a defense that ranked 30th against the run and 27th against the pass in 2004, did not receive many encouraging signs in their loss to the Seahawks. Seattle rang up 386 total yards in the game, including 216 on the ground. Defensive coordinator Rick Venturi was without linebackers James Allen (knee), Roger Knight (knee) and Terrence Melton (calf) in the game, and could have all three in uniform to help turn around the unit on Thursday. The New Orleans offense turned the ball over three times against Seattle, with running back Deuce McAllister (9 rushes, 38 yards) coughing up a first-quarter fumble and backup quarterback Todd Bouman (8-11 passing, 89 yards, 1 TD) fumbling and tossing an interception. Starting quarterback Aaron Brooks (5-9 passing, 14 yards) and the rest of the team's regulars are slated to play three quarters against the Patriots. Linebacker Cie Grant (knee) and tight end Boo Williams (hamstring) are among those not expected to be in action for Jim Haslett's crew. The Patriots have a 4-3 lead in the all-time preseason series with the Saints, breaking a deadlock with a 24-6 home victory over New Orleans prior to the 1994 season. New England also lays claim to a 7-3 advantage in the regular season series, extending their lead with a 34-17 home victory when the teams last met, in 2001.

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Old 08-18-2005, 07:37 AM   #3
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Game of the day: Saints at Patriots

Game of the day: Saints at Patriots
Jeff Mason

New Orleans Saints at New England Patriots

The line: The books opened with the New England favored by four points, but that has since dropped to -3.

The total: The total is set at 38 1/2.

Saints playing to win

The second week of the NFL preseason is usually considered a “cut week�; starting players take a few snaps and then make way for unproven veterans, or hungry rookies.

New Orleans Saints coach Jim Haslett has other ideas. Having already played his starters for a quarter and a half last game against Seattle, a game in which the Saints were pounded 34-15 as 3 1/2-point favorites. Haslett plans on playing his starters for three quarters this week against the New England Patriots, trying to instill confidence in the team by taking it to the defending champs.

New England, headed by the ever-calculating Bill Belichick, has different plans for Thursday’s contest.

“Of all the challenges we have Thursday night, the biggest is in the kicking game,� Belichick told Patriots.com “These guys are very strong on special teams. They have excellent specialists – their kicker, their snapper, their returners – they have a lot of really good cover people who have been productive for them in recent seasons. Statistically they have been at the top of the league since [Jim] Haslett’s been there.�

Unlike Haslett, Belichick is widely known for disclosing very little during preseason contests- he plays his starters very little, and seems to view the game as more of a glorified scrimmage.

That being said, Covers Expert William Foote reports that Belichick still manages to hold a 14-7 straight up and 13-7-1 against the spread mark (ATS) in 21 preseason games since taking over in New England. This includes a 23-13 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals in their August 12 preseason opener as 2 1/2-point favorites.

The Saints have not been as successful in the preseason under Jim Haslett. In Haslett’s tenure (which dates back to 2000) Foote reports the Saints are just 3-5 straight up and 3-6 against the spread in preseason games.

"I didn`t play worth a crap the last game," tailback Deuce McAllister told The Times-Picayune, "So personally, I`m looking forward to (Thursday`s game at New England) because it gives me an opportunity to get out there and get on the field again after the sorely disappointing game I had."

Deep "D"

The Patriots cavernous depth on defense appears to know no end. A noted defensive specialist, Belichick has the ability to pluck smart, agile defensive players out of thin air.

In the 2004 season, plagued by numerous defensive injuries, the Patriots simply plugged in players from various positions on the depth chart and never skipped a beat going 11-3-2 ATS.

Such profundity on the defensive side of the ball should not be underestimated by New Orleans starters, led the three-headed-monster of Aaron Brooks, McAllister, and Joe Horn.

Dillon expecting

Corey Dillon has been absent from practice as of late. Dillon, who rushed only four times for 26 yards in the Pats opener, is expecting a child with his wife, Desiree.

In typical Belichick fashion, no word has been given on Dillon’s status for Thursday’s game.

Second year back Kory Chapman carried 13 times for 62 yards against the Bengals.

Changes up front

The Saints are bigger this year.

The addition of first round pick Jamaal Brown and the maturation of talented young players such as center LeCharles Bentley has given the Saints the girth up front they need.

With a healthy McAllister playing big minutes behind these massive behemoths, Saints backers hope he`ll be able to pile up the numbers on the ground versus the Pats second and third teams.

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Old 08-18-2005, 07:45 AM   #4
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For starters, it's gametime: Pats, Saints plan to use top...

For starters, it's gametime: Pats, Saints plan to use top guns
By Michael Felger
Thursday, August 18, 2005 - Updated: 07:48 AM EST

FOXBORO – The Patriots' preseason opener in Cincinnati last week was primarily about auditioning new players in new spots and exploring the depth chart, but tonight's exhibition against New Orleans at Gillette Stadium could represent a departure from that approach.

Saints coach Jim Haslett has declared he will play his starters for three quarters, and while reports that Bill Belichick has agreed to do the same are unconfirmed, the nationally televised game will certainly feature more star power than the Bengals affair.

Quarterbacks Tom Brady and Doug Flutie will play, as should a host of offensive skill players who sat out in Cincinnati, including Deion Branch, Troy Brown and Ben Watson. Most defensive starters, who were out early against the Bengals, should last at least until halftime.

The Saints' first unit will offer a good test for the Pats starters. But Haslett's plan also gives Belichick a prime opportunity to see how his young players stack up against starting-quality competition. For Belichick, it will be a balancing act.

``The more you play your units together, the less you're looking at younger players,'' Belichick said. ``The more you look at younger players, the less you're able to really build the cohesiveness of a unit going into the season.''

Also worth considering is the fact the Pats and Saints will meet in the regular season (Nov. 20 at Gillette). That means the schemes should be vanilla (or decoys) and that the players will be feeling each other out.

``I think you realize some of the matchup issues,'' Brady said. ``I know, for me, you get a feel for the linebackers and the speed of the defense, the type of plays you want to run and the type of plays you think you could execute.''

Meanwhile, the battle for jobs will continue, and those who impressed or disappointed in Cincinnati will have the opportunity to back it up or redeem themselves.

Start with the inside linebackers. Chad Brown looked less than comfortable and Monty Beisel opened some eyes with some big hits. With Mike Vrabel out with an ankle injury, the free agent additions should see extensive playing time. The Pats will be looking for some cohesion

At running back, Corey Dillon's status is up in the air after he missed most of the week for the birth of his second child. With 2004 fourth-round pick Cedric Cobbs out again with an injury, the game could be a showcase for returning NFL Europe star Kory Chapman, who impressed in second-half duty last week.

Cobbs should be the player seizing the backup tailback job behind Dillon, but the more time he's out and the more Chapman plays well, that competition becomes closer than anyone anticipated.

At quarterback, watch to see if Matt Cassel gets meaningful snaps or merely mops up. If he can build on his strong debut, it will mean more bad news for Rohan Davey.

Above all, the night should belong to Brady, who caused concern by sitting out last week and has had some uncharacteristic struggles in camp. A productive showing would be a welcome sight for Pats fans.

``I'm excited to get out there. It's been a while since (I) played a game,'' Brady said. ``Hopefully we can go out there and just improve".

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Old 08-18-2005, 07:47 AM   #5
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Saints have a lot to prove; Patriots have a lot to learn

Saints have a lot to prove; Patriots have a lot to learn

New Orleans played poorly in its first preseason game, which should give it more incentive tonight. New England, meanwhile, will begin to dissect the team it will meet again on Nov. 20.

FOXBORO -- As far as preseason games go, tonight's should be a very good one.

The Saints and Patriots will go at it before a national TV audience and both teams figure to give their starters extended play.

New Orleans looked awful in its preseason opener last week, turning the ball over three times in the first half and allowing 216 rushing yards in a 34-15 loss to Seattle.

The Saints will want to atone for that, and coach Jim Haslett says his starters will play three quarters.

The Patriots, meanwhile, are in the same preseason jam they were last year. Their preseason finale is just seven days before their opener on Thursday, September 8. Last year, the Patriots rested their starters in the final preseason game but took the second and third games seriously, playing the first teamers until after halftime.

This will also be a preview of a November 20 meeting between the teams, so there will be a measure of experimenting so that matchups can be gauged.

One that will be worth watching is the Patriots' run defense against Saints back Deuce McAllister.

"He's unique in the fact that he is a very powerful inside runner," Belichick said of the 6-foot-1, 232-pound beast of burden. "He is a strong guy, a big kid that can run through people.

"And he has tremendous speed to turn the corner and go the distance on any play. That makes him a big threat (on the ground) and he is outstanding in the passing game. He just has wide receiver-type of hands.

"I'm sure if he were a receiver full-time he could probably run routes as well as, if not better than, a lot of receivers in the league. He has a lot of skill and a lot of talent."

This is a good test for the Patriots' rush defense, a group that got gashed by Rudi Johnson and Chris Perry in the preseason opener. Unfortunately for the Pats, the expected absences of defensive end Ty Warren and linebacker Mike Vrabel (neither practiced this week) means they'll be doing some shuffling. Shuffling is all they've been doing at linebacker seemingly since camp began.

"When you go through camp you go through positions from time-to-time where sometimes you have a little more depth than others," said Belichick when asked if the Pats were "dangerously thin" at linebacker. "We haven't had to alter anything in practice or really do anything even in the games in our rotations that we probably wouldn't normally do at that position. Unlike tight end last week where we're playing a tackle at tight end in the second half.

"I would say that was a lot bigger adjustment than we've had at linebacker. I certainly wouldn't put it in that category. Would we like to have everybody out there? Of course."

The Patriots will also have to deal with a pretty good crew of receivers -- Az Hakim, Donte Stallworth and Joe Horn -- and an elusive and strong-armed quarterback in Aaron Brooks.

Brooks struggled last week, going 5-for-9 for 14 yards. Pats corner Randall Gay missed some time this week so it will be interesting to see who works with whom at corner.

A reason to watch the fourth quarter is Saints rookie Adrian McPherson. The former Florida State player who ripped up the Arena League was hugely entertaining in the Saints' preseason opener.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady -- who didn't play last week and has thrown on a limited basis in camp -- will go for a while tonight. Belichick wouldn't say how long.

"I'm excited to get out there," Brady said. "Hopefully we can go out there and just improve. (Tuesday), for the first time in a long time, we scored on a two-minute drive. We just need to keep trying to make progress. You always want to be perfect out there but it's rarely perfect for any position.

"It's about improving all parts of the game. For some of these teams that have these great offenses and score all these points and throw for all these yards and run the ball well (like the Chiefs and Colts), we'd like to get to that point."

Watch for the deployment of tight end Benjamin Watson tonight. He didn't play last week but got a ton of throws his way on Tuesday during the final open practice of camp. This will be the first time he's played since last year's season opener.

When Brady sits down, Doug Flutie will likely replace him. The veteran has struggled badly with accuracy in camp. Given the way Rohan Davey and Matt Cassel played last week (not so good and surprisingly well, respectively), the Pats' quarterback race isn't shaping up the way anyone figured.

"I think Doug has made good progress," said Belichick. "And we'd like to get Doug some playing time against New Orleans and see how those things translate into game competition with him and his teammates that are out there with him."

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Old 08-18-2005, 07:49 AM   #6
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Patriots have test in Saints

Patriots have test in Saints
By MICHAEL PARENTE, Journal Register News Service08/18/2005
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FOXBORO, Mass. -- Even though it’s still a preseason game, this one is a little more important than the rest.

The New England Patriots will play New Orleans on Thursday night at Gillette Stadium in the second of their four exhibition games, but the Saints are the only preseason opponent they’ll see again in the regular season - three months from now on Nov. 20 in Foxboro.

Consequently, the Patriots put a little more effort into practice this week and worked more on scouting the opponent than they did on installing their own system. The Saints haven’t had a winning record in three years, but they’re strong on special teams, whereas the Patriots struggled in that department last season.

Safeties Mel Mitchell and Steve Gleason, running back Fred McAfee and linebacker Colby Bockwoldt provide ample coverage on kickoff and punt returns, which is why the Saints finished 10th in the league in punt return average. The Patriots are auditioning for return specialists, so this will be a good way to gauge their progress.

"I think our best test is going to be in the kicking game," Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said. "They have excellent specialist with their kickers, their snapper, their returners and they have a lot of really good cover people - guys that are very athletic and have been very productive for them in the past several years."

Despite that match-up, all eyes will probably be on quarterback Tom Brady, who will be making his preseason debut after sitting out last week’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals. Brady’s absence from the first game raised questions about his health, but the two-time Super Bowl MVP said his elbow is fine. He expects to play a lot against the Saints.

"Coach hasn’t told me and he usually doesn’t tell us," Brady said. "He just says to be prepared. He’s doesn’t want to say, ‘You’ll play for 10 plays,’ and then you stink it up for 10 plays and he says, ‘You’re staying out there.’ I like the way I’ve been practicing. I like the way we’ve been feeling and we’d like to play well."

Brady, who spent extra time after practice on Tuesday working with his college throwing coach, will test his arm against a defense that finished last in the league in total yards per game and 27th in passing yards allowed.

The Saints added some new faces during the offseason, including safety Dwight Smith and linebackers Levar Fisher and T.J. Slaughter. They also drafted safety Josh Bullocks, linebacker Alfred Fincher and defensive tackle Jason Jefferson.

Smith inked a five-year deal after spending the first four years of his career with Tampa Bay. He had 104 tackles and three interceptions last year. Fisher is more of a gamble. The former second-round draft pick missed all of 2004 with a knee injury, but played well as a full-time starter for the Arizona Cardinals in 2003.

Slaughter signed with New Orleans on Aug. 8. He was Ray Lewis’ backup in Baltimore last year, so he didn’t get much playing time, but he could increase the Saints’ depth at linebacker. They need the help after finishing 30th out of 32 teams in run defense last season.

Expect the Saints’ rookies to get a lot of playing time. Bullocks - a second-round pick - set a Big 12 record with 10 interceptions in his junior year at Nebraska. Fincher led Connecticut with 140 tackles last season, and Jefferson was a full-time starter for three years at Wisconsin.

New England’s defense will also be in the spotlight because the Saints have a number of weapons on offense. The top priority will be shutting down running back Deuce McAllister, who has rushed for over 1,000 yards in each of the last three years. Ex-Patriot Antowain Smith, who is entering his first year with the Saints, might get some playing time as well.

The Patriots are still working out the kinks at linebacker after allowing Cincinnati’s Rudi Johnson to rush for 6.7 yards per carry last weekend. This will be quite a test for newcomers Monty Beisel and Chad Brown, who are trying to learn the system and fill the void left by the absence of Tedy Bruschi and Ted Johnson.

"He’s unique in the fact that he is a very powerful inside runner.He is a strong guy, a big kid that can run through people," Belichick said of McAllister. "He has tremendous speed to turn the corner and go the distance on any play. That makes him a big threat there and he is outstanding in the passing game. He just has wide receiver-type of hands.

"I’m sure if he were a receiver full time he could probably run routes as well as, if not better than, a lot of receivers in the league. You have to defend the whole field on him. It’s not like you can worry about him in one area but not somewhere else. You have to worry about everything, including him catching the ball."

The Saints also have one of the league’s best 1-2 combinations at wide receiver. Joe Horn is a four-time Pro Bowler and the cornerstone of New Orleans’ passing game, but the addition of Az-Zahir Hakim in late June gives them another legitimate deep threat. Horn had 1,399 yards and 11 touchdowns last year while Hakim finished with 533 yards and three touchdowns despite missing three games.

Quarterback Aaron Brooks also presents problems because of his ability to pass and scramble. Brooks is coming off one of his best seasons; in 2004, he threw for 3,810 yards and 21 touchdowns while rushing for 173 yards and four touchdowns. Although he’s prone to mistakes, he can create plays from chaos and catch defenses off guard.

The Patriots did a lot of scout-team work this week to prepare for Thursday’s game, so they know what the Saints bring to the table. The final score isn’t as important as the overall performance. The Patriots want to make some progress in hopes that what they do on Thursday can help them out three months from now in November.

"We’ll get a good evaluation of where we are going against a different type of team than we played last week in Cincinnati," Belichick said. "We’ll have some different challenges that we’ll have to meet. They’re a good team and they have a lot of talent."

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Old 08-18-2005, 07:52 AM   #7
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Saints provide a glimpse at the future

Saints provide a glimpse at the future
By Jerome Solomon, Globe Staff | August 18, 2005

FOXBOROUGH -- This isn't exactly a dress rehearsal, what with the actual performance more than three months away.

As the Patriots' defenders look to find cohesiveness after major offseason losses, they can throw away most of what they saw last week in Cincinnati -- the Bengals aren't on New England's 2005 regular-season schedule. But the Saints' Deuce McAllister will be on display at Gillette Nov. 20.

''You put a lot more time in on the personnel," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said of preparing for a preseason game against a regular-season opponent. ''You really break down the strengths and weaknesses and tendencies of personnel, whether it be their stance or alignment, or inside technique, outside technique. More specifically how they do the things that they do."

Belichick and his staff should get a good look at what New Orleans has for personnel, as Saints coach Jim Haslett says his starters should play into the third quarter.

''It was something we wanted to do to get a lot of work early in camp and back off as we go because of injuries and the people we were playing," Haslett said after practice Tuesday. ''We just feel like we have a new [offensive] line, and we want to get Deuce a lot of work. We've got some new guys on defense, so we want to get the cohesiveness down as fast as we can."

Though Belichick said there was no agreement between he and Haslett to play starters into the second half, the opportunity to get a good look at his front-line players against the Saints is probably tempting.

''For a team like New Orleans, we want to be prepared from a team standpoint, to understand all of the things they do as a team, and what their team tendencies are -- what coverages they like to run in certain situations, what fronts and what blitzes they like to use in certain situations, what plays they would call . . . by down and distance and formation and all those things," Belichick said. ''But then specifically, how are we going to play [receiver] Joe Horn, [cornerback Mike] McKenzie, [defensive end] Charles Grant, [defensive tackle Johnathan] Sullivan, and [center] LeCharles Bentley?

''That gets very specific to each of those players, and we're going to be seeing them again."

Despite his team's depth, Belichick would like to see the matchups of his starters against Haslett's starters as long as possible. But with a host of day-to-day injuries, New England's depth has taken a hit, and the team isn't in a position to risk too many players in a meaningless game

Linebacker Mike Vrabel, defensive end Ty Warren, and cornerback Randall Gay -- all starters -- are out with injuries, as are about a dozen other Patriots.

New Orleans doesn't have a power running game, but McAllister is a tough inside runner and difficult to bring down. He ran the ball nine times in the Saints' exhibition opener against Seattle, and Haslett indicated he'll see the ball more against the Patriots.

Offensively, the Patriots should look more like the squad that will begin the season than they did at Cincinnati in a 23-13 win. Several offensive players who sat out the opener, including receivers Troy Brown and Deion Branch, will be in the lineup.

Most significantly, quarterback Tom Brady will dress for a game for the first time since the Super Bowl. Brady says he has been brought along slowly in training camp practices so as to not overwork his arm, but he is eager to see game action.

The Patriots' offense has looked sluggish at times in practice, with Brady in and out of workouts and not as precise as normal, and the reserve quarterbacks being erratic.

''I'm excited to get out there," Brady said. ''It's been awhile since I played a game.

''There's just improvement that you try to make throughout the camp. It's about really improving all parts of the game and trying to be more efficient on offense.

''Some of these teams that have these great offenses that score all these points, throw for all these yards and run the ball well -- the Chiefs and the Colts come to mind -- ultimately you'd like to be one of those very, very good offenses. We've been kind of inconsistent throughout camp."

Depending on the number of possessions, expect Brady and Doug Flutie to lead the Patriots through at least three quarters, with Rohan Davey and possibly rookie Matt Cassel mopping up.

An area to watch is special teams, as Belichick sees tonight's game as an opportunity to gauge his team's improvement.

''Last year they had the player of the week on special teams four straight weeks," Belichick said of the Saints. ''They really have a lot of good players and they're very well coached. They're really pretty good at everything."

Due to the circumstances, Belichick hopes his squad is good at watching and learning, even if there will be some time before the real demonstration of the lessons learned.

''It's like playing a division team twice during the regular season," he said. ''You play them the first time and you certainly learn a lot about that team. You play them the second time and it's still a different game, but you just have more of familiarity with that opponent than somebody you haven't played in two or three years."

© Copyright 2005 Globe Newspaper Company.

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Old 08-18-2005, 07:56 AM   #8
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Starters will play into 3rd quarter

Starters will play into 3rd quarter

Saints, Pats getting serious



METAIRIE, La. - The New Orleans Saints will try to correct the mistakes made in last week's preseason opener when they travel to face the New England Patriots tonight.

The second exhibition contest marks the first time the Saints have ever visited Gillette Stadium and the first time since 1994 the teams will meet in the preseason. It will also serve as a regular-season preview, with the Saints also facing the defending Super Bowl champs on Nov. 20 in Foxboro, Mass.

After turnovers and slipshod tackling marred their preseason opener, the Saints focused their attention on fundamentals in this week's training camp practices. Against the Seahawks, the Saints lost two fumbles and were intercepted once during a mediocre offensive showing. The defense, expected to be improved from a year ago, missed 15 tackles, though 13 of those occurred in the fourth quarter, well after the starters had taken a seat.

Still, that 34-15 loss was enough for sixth-year Saints coach Jim Haslett to find considerable room for improvement.

"I hope for a better performance than we gave the other day," Haslett said. "I'd like to see consistency, stop turning the ball over, playing good defense, (stopping) the run and really just get better."

It will also be the preseason debut for Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who sat out of last week's 23-13 win over the Cincinnati Bengals while resting a sore arm. Brady has been throwing more in practice this week and is expected to start against the Saints.

Haslett and Patriots coach Bill Belichick have agreed to let their starters play into the third quarter at least, a rare move just two games into the exhibition season. But Haslett said it will help the coaches get a better feel for their teams, as well as offer a chance for the first-stringers to get better acquainted with each other.

"This was decided in the offseason," Haslett said. "It's something we wanted to do to get a lot of work early in camp, and then back off as we go. We've got some new guys on defense, so we wanted to get a lot of the cohesiveness down as fast as we could."

Second-year middle linebacker Courtney Watson said the game will have the same feeling as any game during the season when the Saints meet the Patriots, who have won three of the last four Super Bowls.

"It's a preseason game, but they are the world champs," Watson said. "We're all competitors, so we all want to step up to the challenge. However long the starters play, we want to take it serious. We want to go out there and compete and judge where we are at this point in training camp."

Giving the starters more time on the field may also offer a glimpse at the teams' regular-season meeting, though Haslett said he didn't necessarily expect Belichick to show his hand this early in the preseason. He said tonight's game will be more about evaluating his team's progress than getting a jump on the competition.

"They do a good job of running the football and I don't think that will change much with what they're doing the rest of the year," Haslett said.

"Obviously, you game plan a little more (during the season), you look at players and injuries to players, and there are some other things that factor into it. It should be a good gauge for us. First of all it's on the road, and we're playing the world champs.

"So, I think it's a good gauge to see where we're at. We're worried about ourselves, and I'm sure Belichick will worry about his team. He's done a pretty good job the last couple of years."

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Old 08-18-2005, 07:59 AM   #9
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Haslett: Team has to improve

Haslett: Team has to improve

Advocate sportswriter

FOXBORO, Mass. -- New Orleans Saints coach Jim Haslett knows what he wants from his team in tonight's exhibition game against the New England Patriots, and he doesn't think it's a lot to ask.
The Saints dropped a 34-15 decision to the Seattle Seahawks in their preseason opener on Friday, a setback that began with a shaky offensive performance in the first half.

The Saints had three turnovers -- two by the second team -- that led to three Seahawks touchdowns and a 24-3 halftime deficit. The second- and third-team defenses weren't immune, giving up the bulk of the Seahawks' 216 rushing yards.

"I hope for a better performance than we had the other day," said Haslett, who said he'll play his starters for three quarters in tonight's game. "I'd like to see consistency, not turning the ball over, play good defense, and stop the run. I just want to get better and improve over what we played last week."

While the Seahawks had the upper hand in their matchup last week, the Saints step up in class tonight against the two-time defending Super Bowl champions on national television (Fox).

"Well, I think it will be a good gauge," Haslett said. "We've done good work (in training camp). We worked on tackling this week, and we did a number of different things. It was a short week, but it will be fun to go up there and play this team."

There was a reason to emphasize the tackling in this week's practices. Haslett said the Saints had 15 missed tackles in the game, with 13 of them coming in the fourth quarter when younger players and undrafted free agents were in the game.

"I watched a couple of other preseason games and it's happening to everybody," he said. "It's just a bunch of young guys running around and not really being sure of what they are doing. Miscommunication obviously leads to missed tackles. It will be better this week."

Injury report

Six players will likely be sidelined for tonight's game.

Linebackers James Allen (knee) and Cie Grant (knee), tackle/guard Spencer Folau (shoulder), wide receiver Az-Zahir Hakim (hamstring), and tight ends Shad Meier (knee) and Boo Williams (hamstring) will probably sit this one out.

Williams, who injured his left hamstring late in Monday night's practice, is the latest player to go down in training camp. He said he played with the same injury last season, but expects to be out for two weeks this time.

Meier and Hakim may be able to return to practice on Saturday when the Saints begin the final five days of training camp.

LSU night

Appropriately enough, tonight's game will be played in what is referred to as LSU East -- because of the large number of former Tigers with the Patriots.

Six ex-LSU players are on the Patriots roster -- linebacker Eric Alexander, quarterback Rohan Davey, running back Kevin Faulk, cornerback Randall Gay, defensive end Jarvis Green and defensive end Marquise Hill.

The Saints have three former LSU standouts on their roster -- cornerback Fred Booker, wide receiver Devery Henderson and defensive tackle Howard Green, a cousin of Jarvis Green.

Numbers game

If you happen to see two players with the No. 76 on the Saints sideline tonight, you don't have to have your eyes checked.

Rookie defensive end L.P. Ladouceur and rookie tackle Brandon Phillips, who was signed Monday, are sharing the number because the Saints don't have any numbers available in the 60s or 70s -- which is what tackles can wear, according to NFL rules.

Big man in camp

Phillips, by the way, is the biggest player on the Saints roster at 6 feet-8. Phillips, a former University of Arizona player, had a tryout with the team during its rookie minicamp in May but was not signed to a contract.

He was signed because the Saints are thin at tackle with Jon Stinchcomb out for the season with a knee injury and Spencer Folau still recovering from shoulder surgery in late May

tiggerpolice is offline  
Old 08-18-2005, 11:08 AM   #10
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RE: Starters will play into 3rd quarter

This is what I'm talking about.

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Starters will play into 3rd quarter

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These are all closely related or identical topics. Can we try to put articles like these that are all related in one thread in the future? Thanks.

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