1:00 PM ET, September 10, 2006
FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland, OH
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.
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.
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Both teams are looking to rebound and get off to fast starts in 2006. Year two of the Romeo Crennel era begins with high expectations after a very productive offseason. However, the Browns have suffered some adversity in the preseason due to the injury of prized free-agent C LeCharles Bentley. Second-year QB Charlie Frye has a lot of potential, and with the return of TE Kellen Winslow and WR Braylon Edwards, the Browns have two explosive playmakers who can hopefully get this offense back on track. The new additions of NT Ted Washington and OLB Willie McGinest should help improve a run defense that finished 30th against the run in 05.
The Saints overcame a lot in 2005. New head coach Sean Payton has the uphill battle of bringing respectability back to this organization. The Saints have some explosive playmakers on offense with WR Joe Horn and the combination of RB Deuce McAllister and the most exciting rookie of this year's draft class, Reggie Bush. Defensively, the Saints must find a way to stop RB Reuben Droughns. They finished in the bottom five last season against the run. However, they have two explosive pass rushers in defensive ends Charles Grant and Will Smith who will fun to watch in 2006.
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|Avg Points Allowed||14.0||19.0|
Team Averages & NFL Ranks
|TEAM OFFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|TEAM DEFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|Pass Yds Allowed||NO|
|Rush Yds Allowed||NO|
Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)
|Series tied 1-1|
|Nov 24, 2002||NO 15, CLE 24|