Saints 19

(1-0, 1-0 away)

Browns 14

(0-1, 0-1 home)

Coverage: FOX

1:00 PM ET, September 10, 2006

FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland, OH 

1 2 3 4 T
NO 3 6 7 319
CLE 0 0 7 714

Top Performers

Passing: D. Brees (NO) - 170 YDS, 1 TD, 1 INT

Rushing: D. McAllister (NO) - 22 CAR, 90 YDS

Receiving: K. Winslow (CLE) - 8 REC, 63 YDS, 1 TD

New Orleans (3-13) at Cleveland (5-11) 1:00 pm EDT

New Orleans (3-13) at Cleveland (5-11) 1:00 pm EDT

CLEVELAND (Ticker) -- Coach Sean Payton has some playmakers on offense. Romeo Crennel hopes he can counter with some from his defense.

Heisman Trophy-winning running back Reggie Bush makes his NFL debut on Sunday when the New Orleans Saints visit the Cleveland Browns in an interconference season opener.

Bush was expected to be the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, but the Houston Texans stunned the football world by selecting defensive end Mario Williams. That left Bush for the Saints, who grabbed him with the second pick.

Now Payton, who spent the last three years as an assistant under Bill Parcells in Dallas and was the offensive coordinator of the New York Giants in 2000 when they reached the Super Bowl, gets to run plays for an offense that features Bush and three-time 1,000-yard rusher Deuce McAllister in the backfield and Drew Brees at quarterback.

Signed as a free agent, Brees passed for 3,576 yards and 24 touchdowns with 15 interceptions last season for San Diego before suffering a torn labrum in his right shoulder. He replaces Aaron Brooks, who was released after throwing for 2,882 yards and 13 touchdowns with 17 interceptions last season.

Crennel, who is in his second year as Browns coach after earning three championship rings as the defensive coordinator of the New England Patriots, is trying to improve a defense that ranked 30th against the run and managed a league-low 23 sacks.

Two former Patriots - nose tackle Ted Washington and outside linebacker Willie McGinest - were signed in the offseason and Kamerion Wimbley, the team's first-round pick, will be counted on to make the transition from college end to outside linebacker and provide a pass rush in the 3-4 scheme. Cleveland also is expecting inside linebacker D'Qwell Jackson, the team's second-round pick, to make an immediate impact.

Containing an offense headed by Brees, McAllister, Bush and wide receiver Joe Horn will be a difficult task for the Browns.

Only four teams yielded more points than the Saints last season. They acquired defensive tackle Hollis Thomas and linebacker Mark Simoneau from Philadelphia and signed linebacker Danny Clark, Oakland's leading tackler each of the last two seasons.

The Browns were the lowest scoring offense in the league (13.6 points per game) and two of their top playmakers - wide receiver Braylon Edwards and tight end Kellen Winslow - are coming off major knee operations. Winslow tore his ACL in a motorcycle accident prior to last season's training camp after he missed most of his rookie season with a broken right leg.

Quarterback Charlie Frye, a third-round pick in 2005, went 2-3 as a starter in his rookie season. He will need Edwards and Winslow to stay healthy and Reuben Droughns to again rush for more than 1,000 yards.

The Browns signed Pro Bowl center LeCharles Bentley away from New Orleans in the offseason, but Bentley suffered a season-ending knee injury in the first training camp practice.

Ironically, after the Browns signed Bentley, they traded their center Jeff Faine to New Orleans.


Passing Leaders

D. Brees69.530711910
B. Hoyer55.72542115

Rushing Leaders

M. Ingram1386184.56
K. Robinson643305.22
T. West1124083.63
I. Crowell783584.65

Receiving Leaders

J. Graham5962310.67
B. Cooks5355010.43
A. Hawkins4560113.42
T. Gabriel2952718.21

Team Averages & NFL Ranks

Total YardsNO
Yards PassingNO
Yards RushingNO
Yards AllowedNO
Pass Yds AllowedNO
Rush Yds AllowedNO

Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)

Series tied 1-1
Nov 24, 2002NO 15, CLE 24