|Unsettled Saints looking to regain form against Bills|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 09 August 2007 14:41|
After a 20-7 loss to an obviously more energetic Pittsburgh Steelers squad in last Sunday's Hall of Fame game, the New Orleans Saints have spent much of the week talking about the need to show more pride in their work when they host the Buffalo Bills on Friday night.
``It's important after last week and I think our players understand that. You just can't turn it on or off. ... We talked about it this whole week,'' Sean Payton, the reigning NFL coach of the year, said after Thursday evening's practice in Jackson, Miss. ``It's still about the fundamentals and the energy and the enthusiasm and the want-to and ... playing with a little passion. That's what we're looking to see.''
With his focus more on testing his players than winning games, Bills coach Dick Jauron said he liked the idea of facing a team that comes in both a little angry and with one game already in the books.
Like most teams, the Bills open their preseason this week.
``It's probably better for us. Hopefully, they're ahead of us,'' Jauron said. ``Hopefully, they'll make it even tougher for us. That's what this thing is all about. We've got to get ready for what I would think is the toughest division in football, so the tougher the better.''
Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who was 1-for-6 for 6 yards last Sunday, is expected to play the entire first quarter and possibly into the second. Deuce McAllister, who didn't play at all against Pittsburgh, will get about a quarter of work along with Reggie Bush, who ran the ball twice against the Steelers.
That should mean an early test for a Buffalo defense in transition.
The Bills lost shutdown cornerback Nate Clements and starting middle linebacker London Fletcher to free agency and traded outside linebacker Takeo Spikes to Philadelphia.
Further complicating Jauron's plans, tackle Darwin Walker, acquired in the trade for Spikes, refused to report over a contract dispute and has since been traded to Chicago.
Second-round draft pick Paul Posluszny, who is expected to take over at middle linebacker, will be making his NFL debut against an offense that led the league in passing and total yardage last season.
New Orleans' offensive line will be missing two starters with minor injuries, center Jeff Faine (calf) and left tackle Jammal Brown (knee).
Jonathan Goodwin will start for Faine, while second-year player Zach Strief, starting for Brown, will get to take on one of the better defensive ends in the league in Aaron Schobel.
``It will be a good challenge for me and obviously tell me how far I've come and how far I have to go,'' Strief said. ``The opportunity to play him is a good opportunity for me.''
The Saints' defense has most of its starters back, but with defensive tackle Hollis Thomas reporting to camp above his target weight of 335 pounds, free agent acquisition Kendrick Clancy will start in his place.
``He did a pretty good job last week and I want to see this guy with the first group,'' Payton said. ``So it's a combination of him playing pretty well and Hollis needing to get his weight down.''
Safety Roman Harper, recovering from a season-ending ACL tear early in his rookie season, sat out last week and will see his first live action since the injury.
Bills quarterback J.P. Losman, who played his home games in the Louisiana Superdome while at Tulane, has increasingly shown patience and an ability to hit all the throws, including deep balls to Lee Evans and Roscoe Parrish.
``You just have to remind yourself to slow down, relax, especially going to New Orleans, where I do have some roots,'' Losman said. ``So I have to actually concentrate on slowing down even more and just calming down - don't play excited or anything like that. It's going to be fun, it's going to be smooth and we're going to move the chains.''