Archive for Thursday, September 22, 2005

Saints expecting another disruption

September 22, 2005


— As Hurricane Rita bears down on the Texas coast, the New Orleans Saints are bracing to have their plans rearranged by yet another storm.

The hassle this time won't be anything like Hurricane Katrina, which ripped apart their hometown and their stadium, forcing them to relocate to San Antonio. Still, it could be yet another inconvenience in a season that already has given the Saints more than their fair share.

Coach Jim Haslett said Wednesday afternoon that team officials were considering flying to Minneapolis on Friday instead of Saturday to avoid any weather problems in San Antonio. The Saints play the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.

"We'll make that decision later, when we see where it's at," Haslett said.

Soon after he spoke, Rita was elevated to a Category 5 storm, the highest level.

Throughout Texas, sports teams were re-evaluating their schedules because of the storm. The Houston Texans, who are off Sunday, canceled a practice scheduled for today and recommended that players flee the area. Several colleges have postponed games.

Saints receiver Joe Horn seemed almost ready for more upheaval.

"I expect things like that," he said. "That's life. They can stack them up, five, one after another, and we just have to pick up the pieces and move on or stay here and ride out the storm."

Horn was still fuming over Monday night's supposed "home" game that was played at Giants Stadium, the home of the team they were playing, the New York Giants. The Saints were sloppy and appeared lackluster in a 27-10 loss.

"Am I (angry) we had to play in New York? You're doggone right I am," Horn said. "But we don't have any say-so in this league. That's obvious."

The Saints got more bad news Wednesday as punt and kickoff returner Michael Lewis was placed on injured reserve. He tore two knee ligaments against the Giants and is scheduled to have surgery next week. Haslett said he was told Lewis got his cleats stuck in the turf.

"It's a shame because not too many people on this team work harder than Michael does," Haslett said. "But we'll pick up and hopefully not miss a beat."

Receiver Nate Poole replaced Lewis on the roster. Donte' Stallworth will return punts and Aaron Stecker will handle kickoffs.

After playing the Vikings, the Saints will have the closest thing to a home game as they'll have all season - a game in San Antonio, their temporary home. It's one of three they'll play at the Alamodome. The other four will be in Baton Rouge, La., at LSU's Tiger Stadium.

"That makes them away games," offensive lineman Wayne Gandy said. "Anytime you get on a plane and pack a bag, it must be an away trip."

In making the decision to play games in Baton Rouge, officials with the NFL and the Saints cited the opportunity of bringing games closer to the team's fans.

"It's definitely going to be different - traveling to another home game," offensive lineman Jermane Mayberry said. "Hopefully we'll get there and we'll have the home crowd behind us."


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