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Saints confident they’ll remain among NFL’s best

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The New England Patriots line up against the New Orleans Saints during a joint football practice in Foxborough, Mass., in August. (The Associated Press)

The Associated Press • September 8, 2010

NEW ORLEANS — When New England hosted the Saints for joint practices in mid-August, Patriots players referred to New Orleans as the new standard for NFL success.

The idea would have raised eyebrows only a year ago, when the Patriots could boast of five AFC championship appearances, four Super Bowl appearances and three championships in an eight-year span, while the Saints had only two playoffs wins — and no Super Bowl appearances — in franchise history.

Then last season, the Saints won 13 regular season games and more than doubled their all-time playoff win total with three postseason victories en route to their first championship.

All those jokes about New Orleans not winning the Super Bowl until you-know-what freezes over are dated now, and there’s no telling when, or if, the bag heads will return to the Louisiana Superdome.

No longer an NFL laughing stock, New Orleans is now among the league’s elite. And the Saints are confident they’ll be there for a while.

The Saints are “trying to be a dynasty, not just a one-time defender,” running back Reggie Bush said.

“This is a special time for us right now,” Bush continued. “We feel like we have all the pieces to the puzzle right now to be a contender every year. It’s up to us to make that happen, to be able to make those playoff pushes every year.”

The Saints haven’t lost many key players from a year ago.

On offense, all starters are back. Some, most notably receiver Lance Moore, are healthier.

In the four seasons since head coach Sean Payton began calling the plays and quarterback Drew Brees began executing them, the Saints have led the league in yardage three times. Their lone “off” year was 2007, when they were fourth.

The Saints’ offensive line has been among the best at preventing sacks, and if Brees stays healthy for a fifth-straight year, New Orleans could very well rack up the most yards in the NFL again.

On defense, the Saints lost two starters: Linebacker Scott Fujita, who left in free agency, and defensive end Charles Grant, who was released. The Saints may be stronger at end this season after replacing Grant with longtime Chicago starter Alex Brown.

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Written by demon53

September 8, 2010 at 6:34 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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