NFL Wire News

Going 0-2 ‘not an option’ for Saints

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NEW ORLEANS — While it’s still way too early in a 16-game season to panic, the New Orleans Saints know they can’t afford to get off to an 0-2 start for the third time in the last four seasons.

The Saints went on to finish 7-9 in both 2012 and 2014 when they started the season with back-to-back losses, which means a lot of improvement is needed to get on track after last week’s 31-19 loss to the Arizona Cardinals.

But they’re not taking anything for granted, including a seven-game winning streak in the series with NFC South foe Tampa Bay when the Saints (0-1) go against the Bucs (0-1) on Sunday in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

“Yes, it is not even an option,” Saints quarterback Drew Brees said of trying to avoid another 0-2 start. “We have to find a way to win.

“You want to see your biggest improvement from week one to week two. You always say that, win or lose from the week before. So we expect big improvements this week.”

It’s important, perhaps crucial, considering a loss could potentially leave the Saints two games behind the Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers pending the outcome of their games after they both won last week.

After Sunday’s home game, the Saints will travel to Charlotte, North Carolina, to play the Panthers before returning home for a Sunday night matchup with the Dallas Cowboys.

It may look daunting, but the only thing Saints coach Sean Payton was thinking about Monday was facing a Bucs team that was blown out 42-14 by the Tennessee Titans in quarterback Jameis Winston’s NFL debut.

Even that kind of took a back seat to the disappointment Payton felt after falling to the Cardinals in a performance marred by missed opportunities in the red zone — scoring just one touchdown in four chances — and penalties.

“Our focus has to start internally,” Payton said. “It has to start with us, and then when we get to the (Bucs’) scouting report. It really has to be within these walls and our team right now.”

Brees, of course, agreed.

“It is a faceless opponent from the standpoint that if we don’t go out and execute our stuff and do the things we know that are our bread and butter and make us great, it doesn’t matter,” he said.

“No matter who we play, where we play them and when we play them, we need to focus on going out and doing what we do best and doing it the right way, with great technique the way we’ve been coached. That is first and foremost.”

SERIES HISTORY: 47th regular-season meeting. Saints lead series, 29-17. The Saints have won the last seven matchups with the Bucs, the longest streak by either team in a series that started in 1977 when Tampa Bay notched its first victory as an expansion franchise after losing its first 26 regular-season games. The Saints have won the last four games played in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome between the NFC South foes.

INJURY NOTES

–LCB Keenan Lewis did not practice Wednesday while he continues to recover from hip surgery and won’t play Sunday against the Tampa Bay Bucs.

–FS Jairus Byrd was held out of practice Wednesday because of his surgically-repaired knee and his return is not known.

–LB Dannell Ellerbe did not practice again Wednesday because of a toe injury and his status for Sunday’s game is unknown.

–RB C.J. Spiller, who had his knee scoped on Aug. 14, worked on a limited basis Wednesday and could return Sunday against the Bucs.


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