Thursday, September 28, 2006

Saints face 'Dem Cats' on Sunday

When the Saints and Panthers renew their rivalry Sunday at 1 p.m. EDT in Charlotte, the hottest player will be kicker John Kasay, who set an NFL record last week with 4 field goals of 46 yards or longer. His Panthers escaped with a 24-23 win over Tampa Bay. But the 16-year veteran will find it tough going up against the special teams play of the Saints.
Carolina linebacker Dan Morgan and tight end Mike Seidman are both listed as questionable against New Orleans. So is safety Shaun Williams. Pro Bowl receiver Steve Smith is a go though and the Panthers figure to need him. Last week Smith had 7 catches for 112 yards against the Buccaneers after missing the first two games with a strained right hamstring. He might get a buck-fiddy Sunday. That's not dissing the Saints secondary, that's just stating the facts. if it wasn't for the feel-good homecoming and some generous officiating (picking up a pass interference flag?), the score could have been drastically different.
Reggie Bush is 30th in the league in rushing, but defenses know they have to stop him. The Cleveland Browns defense had a plan to box him in and not let him get to the outside; the Packers gameplanned to not let him catch the ball; the Falcons tried to not let him run the ball. Eventually he will break one passing or rushing and defenses realize this too.
Last year N.O. beat Carolina 23-20 in week 1 after the emotional turmoil of Katrina.
Aaron Brooks was still a Saint back then. Brooks was 18-of-24 for 192 yards for the Saints while Deuce McAllister got 64 yards, including two touchdowns.
Jake Delhomme threw 2 picks but finished with 212 yards with a touchdown. Steve Smith caught eight passes for 138 yards.
For the second game between the two, Carolina soundly whipped tail 27-10. It was the first week the Saints benched Brooks. Todd Bouman threw 4 picks and fumbled.
This year, it'll be different. Can you say 'Bush?"

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