Saints are better behind running game, defense

The New Orleans Saints may not have finished the preseason undefeated (3-1), but they accomplished just about every goal on their list.

They have found a power-running game and developed a stable of backs that includes Reggie Bush, Pierre Thomas, Mike Bell and Lynell Hamilton.

Heading into the final week of preseason, the Saints ranked second in rushing yards.

Drew Brees completed over 70 percent of his passes during the preseason. Brees needs a healthy crop of targets, which also includes the improved talents of TE Jeremy Shockey, who appears to be on the verge of a rebirth in the Crescent City. WR Rod Harper is a speedster who excels at punt returns having returned two for touchdowns this preseason. He seems to be the favorite to join Marques Colston, Lance Moore, Devery Henderson and Robert Meachem as the fifth receiver on an immensely talented offense.

Finally, new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams may have given Sean Payton the defense needed to make a Super Bowl run. The Saints tallied 10 takeaways during the preseason and entered the final week allowing the fewest rushing yards in the league. Reserve DE’s Bobby McCray and Anthony Hargrove will join Paul Spicer to replace Charles Grant and Will Smith during their four-game suspensions.

Armed with a fastbreak offense and a opportunistic defense, the Saints are more than ready to make a run at the postseason. With improvements in areas that were once weak, watch out for a team that has the coach, quarterback and defense to go beyond their achievements in 2006, when they made it to the NFC title game.

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