"Are we more injured that other teams? Probably most of them (the Packers have placed 10 players on injured reserve). It's allowed an opportunity for some young guys to step up and play pretty well. That will serve us well down the road, once we get everybody back."
Reggie Bush is not expected to play on Sunday night. He didn't practice with the team on Wednesday and was off behind one end zone, working on a step-climbing machine and a stationary bike. It was a sign of progress and coach Sean Payton said Bush was a day-by-day player for Sunday. I don't think he'll play.
The Saints (4-3) don't like to use injuries as an excuse for sagging performance, but there's no question that a number of key players have missed action.
Injuries have afflicted Pierre Thomas, Scott Shanle, Tracy Porter, Jabardi Greer, Roman Harper, Will Smith and others.
"The disappointing part is you haven't seen the complete team since Week 2 when Reggie went down," said Shanle. "It's absolutely had an effect.
All-Pro safety Darren Sharper, who opened the season on the physically-unable-to-perform list while recovering from offseason knee surgery, finally came back last weekend to a defensive backfield that played without its three best cornerbacks.
Greer and Shanle expect to play Sonday night.
Am I out of my mind? Maybe. The Saints looked horrible last week in losing to the Browns. But Brees and playmates always step up when you expect them not to. I believe Brees can exploit the Steelers' 24th-ranked pass defense and the Saints have the No. 3-best defense in the league.
The Steelers arguably are the best team in the NFL.
PREDICTION: In other words, if Brees doesn't throw interceptions that are returned for touchdowns, I'm picking the Saints to bounce back and cover the 1 1/2 points.
Other NFL weekend predictions: Lions -3 over Redskins; Broncos -1 over 49ers; Jaguars +6 1/2 over Cowboys; Jets -6 over Packers; Rams -3 over Panthers; Dolphins +2 1/2 over Bengals; Bills +7 1/2 over Chiefs; Chargers - 3 1/2 over Titans; Cardinals -3 over Bucs; Seahawks +3 over Raiders (best bet); Patriots -6 over Vikings; and Colts -5 over Texans.
College predictions: Oregon -7 over USC (lock of the week); Nebraska -7 1/2 over Missouri; Ole Miss +7 over Auburn; Ohio State -25 over Minnesota; Georgia -3 over Florida; Iowa - 6 1/2 over Michigan State; Tulsa +8 over Notre Dame; West Virginia -6 1/2 over Conn; Air Force +7 over Utah; South Carolina -17 1.2 over Tennessee; Southern Miss -10 over UAB; TCU -35 over UNLV; Oklahoma State -5 1/2
over Kansas State; and SMU -8 over Tulane.
Saints coach Sean Payton said cornerbacks Jabari Greer and Tracy Porter could play on Sunday night against the Steelers.
The coach said the reason the Saints weren't scoring a lot of points is because of the turnovers they're making.
Payton also issued an update of the injuries to Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas.
Payton's injury report:
“Going through the injury report first, tackle Zach Strief (knee) was full today; Anthony Waters (hamstring) was full; Leigh Torrence (shoulder) was full; Darren Sharper (knee) was full; Julius Jones (shoulder) was full; Will Smith (groin) was full; Jahri Evans (ankle) was full; Scott Shanle (hamstring) was limited; Jonathan Goodwin (groin) was limited; Jabari Greer (shoulder) was limited; Tracy Porter (knee) was limited. Then the two players that did not practice: Reggie Bush (fibula) did not practice and Pierre Thomas (ankle) did not practice.”
There’s a report out that Reggie Bush isn't going to play. Is that true?
“I saw that. Right now, both with him and Pierre, there’s a little bit of wait and see. They’d have to do something more than what we’ve seen these first two days. In Pierre’s case, we put him in a walking boot to take some of the pressure off after his workouts leading up to this week, trying to rest it. So it will be unlikely that he gets to practice and then with Reggie we’ll just monitor him again. We’ll list the game status tomorrow without getting ahead.”
Is Pierre’s injury just lingering or has it worsened?
“It’s lingering some. We had a local foot and ankle specialist put his eyes on it two days ago, which has been the third doctor. I think the feeling from all sides was to get the weight off of it here – the swelling has gone down – and see if we can get the pain to calm down as well.”
Tracy Porter was limited. So he’s improving?
“I’m encouraged with both Tracy and Jabari in their rehab. They were able to go some today, both with the defense and on the scout team. Obviously they have two entirely different types of injuries, but their progress has been encouraging. I’m going to see how they are tomorrow and I was encouraged with the work that they got today.”
In the second quarter last season, you outscored your opponents by 40 points but this year you’re being outscored by 25. Are teams making better adjustments this season in the second quarters of games against you?
“I would say that the turnovers have more to do with that and field position. Certainly when you play somebody and you’re coming off the season that we had a year ago, you’re going to get their best effort but I don’t know that the adjustments are taking place. With the amount of stuff that we have on the sidelines with the photos and all of that, people – including ourselves – play their base defense and offense and there are some little things that you do in regards to matchups to take advantage on either side of the ball, but I think it would probably be more of the turnovers and some of the things that we can correct, without taking away the play of some of the teams that we’ve played.”
Drew Brees said yesterday the interceptions are on him, but that ultimately you want to be aggressive. Is there a fine line between those two things?
“I think you’re always walking that. Each game can be a little different. Paying attention to the type of game you’re playing one week to the next can vary entirely based on your opponent. I think there is that fine line. Certainly we study those and we pay attention to those. He’s someone that more often than not is making the right decision and is going to be the reason we’re successful more often than not. There are times when you’re less aggressive and there are times where you’re more aggressive, based on the game plan.”
Looking at his history, he seems to have bounced back more often than not after a difficult week. Is there something you attribute that to?
“I think you’d start with his resiliency. He’s very strong, very confident and very experienced. I think typically with younger quarterbacks that’s difficult to achieve. With his experience and the success he’s had, he’s very confident in his abilities. I think starting with myself and everyone else, we feel the same way. That’s his resiliency, his work ethic and film study. All of those things go into that.”
You guys don’t use injuries as a crutch. People talk about defenses attacking you differently without Reggie Bush. Does your offense lose its identity a little each week you have to work in a different player with a different skill set?
“I think you start always with trying to highlight what your own players do well. We’ve gone through injuries in the past. I think that it’s foolish to try to even use those as an excuse. The nature of what we do and the nature of our league is that you’re going to have to deal with injuries on either side of the ball during the course of a season. The next player’s going to have to step up. That next player might not have the same skill set of the player he’s replacing, but the key is to try to take advantage of what we feel that next player can do very well on either side of the ball. That’s part of the 16-game regular season schedule.”
Do you feel like with Pierre Thomas that you are being backed into making a decision with his health soon?
“No. Number one, we’re not outlining any time frame. But number two we’re working aggressively and the player’s working aggressively to get healthy and we’re making sure that we look at all the possibilities in regards to the injury.”
Is surgery ruled out?
“Number one, I’m not ruling anything out. Number two, I don’t think that’s been something discussed with the nature of his injury.”
SOME HITHER, OTHERS YON: Eli Manning is about to become a dad. His wife, Abby, is expecting their first child this spring. Eli, 29, and Abby, 26, who have been married for 2 1/2 years, are both so happy, according to the New York Post. College sweethearts at Ole Miss, married on the beach at the One&Only Palmilla in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, in April 2008, The Giants quarterback said Abby and his mother, Olivia, are close. "My mom and her are great fiends, and they talk through the week and they hang out," said Manning. "In some ways Abby and I are have similar personalities, where she is laid back. But she knows when to get serious and when to be hard on me or keep me in a straight line, which I like."...
Saints kicker Garrett Hartley on making a field goal and two extra points against Cleveland last Sunday: "You still have to analyze and say, 'What am I doing? How did it feel?' Everything felt good in that game, from warmups to to extra points to having a field goal. You can't miss inside 40 yards, especially in the Dome. Just have to have the attitude that I come out everyday and get better. There's no graymatter in between the black and white, The bottom line is, get the job done."...Worrying works because 90 per cent of the things I worry about never happen...
Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul are two players worth watching in Friday night's matchup between the Nuggets and Hornets at 7 at the Arena.
Superstar Anthony smiled when asked about the connection between the two players.
"We're always linked, " Anthony told the Denver Post. If Anthony gets to New York, all of the prognostications are that Paul, who shares an agent with Anthony, will join Anthony when his contract expires in two seasons. Paul said as much while he attended Antony's wedding in New York.
Paul has recovered from the injuries that forced him out of 37 games last season, poured in 17 points and added 16 assists in the Hornets' season-opener on Wednesday night, a 95-91, win over Milwaukee. The Nuggets blew out the Jazz in their opener.
"He's good," judged Anthony, "He's back to normal. We know the Chris Paul that runs his team, gets everybody going. You saw that when he got 16 assists. He got everybody involved, scored when he needed to. He looked good to me."
The Nuggets have been fairly successful against the Hornets in the Arena in recent years. The Nuggets are 6-4 against the Hornets on the road and are favored by one point in this one.
"The league missed Paul," said Anthony "as much as New Orleans did. We missed him as fans of the game and what he can bring. So for him to open up with 17 points and 16 assists that's the old Paul before the injury. We've got our work cut out for us."
The Nuggets have three players who used to play for the Hornets: Chris Anderson, J.R, Smith and Melvin Ely. Anderson will miss this game because of an injury.
New Hornets swingman Trevor Ariza is a defensive stopper and he made an impact in the opener with four steals.
by Ed Staton
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