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Behind Enemy Lines: New Orleans Saints

In their first home game of the season, the Arizona Cardinals were able to provide their fans with a win. Their 25-21 victory over the Detroit Lions got head coach Bruce Arians his first win with the team and was their second solid performance in two weeks to begin the season.

While the offense had trouble executing on third down and in the red zone, the Cardinals' defense and special teams carried them, highlighted by Justin Bethel's blocked field goal.

The Cardinals now head back out on the road as they travel to New Orleans to face off against the unbeaten Saints. With two victories over NFC South rivals, including a nail-biter against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, the Saints are looking like their old selves with head coach Sean Payton back at the helm.

Let's go behind enemy lines and see what's happening down in "The Big Easy."

Friday, September 20

• New Orleans Saints safety Roman Harper declared out vs. Arizona Cardinals, guard Jahri Evans is questionable-

New Orleans Saints safety Roman Harper (knee) has been officially declared out for Sunday's matchup against the Arizona Cardinals, as has safety Isa Abdul-Quddus (ankle).

• (VIDEO) New Orleans Saints' Sean Payton said Kenny Vaccaro has progressed quickly-

Vaccaro has played every snap in first two games

• New Orleans Saints defense miles ahead of last season's unit -

So while the Saints understandably don't want to get too giddy over the first two defensive performances of this season, when they held Atlanta's high-powered offense to 17 points and allowed a single touchdown to Tampa Bay after the Buccaneers took over possession in Saints' territory, there also is no doubt that they're miles ahead of the pace set last season.

• Graham: Absorbing big hits part of his job -

New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham didn't have much to add Friday to the conversation about whether or not the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' safeties were taking dirty shots at Saints players last Sunday. Even though Graham himself absorbed the most vicious one of them all -- a brutal helmet-to-helmet shot from Ahmad Black.

• Key matchup: Peterson vs. Morstead? -

The New Orleans Saints are well aware of the threat they'll face every time they punt the ball to Arizona Cardinals dynamic returner Patrick Peterson on Sunday. But the Saints will counter with one of the league's most underrated weapons -- punter Thomas Morstead.

Thursday, September 19

• Not the norm: Saints rank last in red zone -

One of the more head-scratching statistics in the NFL through two weeks has to be the New Orleans Saints ranking dead last in red zone touchdown percentage at 14.29 percent (1-for-7). For one thing, the statistic does not mesh with the fact that the Saints are 2-0. For another, that's an area where the Saints have excelled throughout the Sean Payton-Drew Brees era.

• Saints morning report: Bar high for Graham -

Geez. What does Jimmy Graham have to do to get noticed? The New Orleans Saints' star tight end had a career-best performance in Sunday's 16-14 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, with 10 catches, 179 yards and a touchdown. But it wasn't enough to earn him NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors (thanks to Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers' 480-yard, four-touchdown performance).

• Time to give up hope for Mark Ingram? -

Is it time to give up hope that Mark Ingram will ever develop into a productive weapon for the New Orleans Saints?

• Saints defensive line aims to get healthy - The Advocate

Speaking to a reporter in the visitor's locker room of Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., last Sunday, New Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan sounded annoyed.

• Saints Tight End Jimmy Graham: A Legend in the Making - Canal Street Chronicles

Jimmy Graham is just a couple of games into his fourth year in Black & Gold and we still do not know what he is fully capable of. Will his performance slow down anytime soon? Not a chance.

Wednesday, September 18

• Drew Brees take tough stance on Bucs' hits -

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees didn't pull any punches when asked about the shots his teammates took last Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- making it clear that he felt safeties Dashon Goldson and Ahmad Black crossed the line with their vicious hits to the heads of tailback Darren Sproles and tight end Jimmy Graham.

• Patrick Robinson done for season -

The New Orleans Saints placed backup cornerback Patrick Robinson on season-ending injured reserve Wednesday.

• Sean Payton talks about Tyrann Mathieu -

New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton talks about former LSU standout Tyrann Mathieu's quick study with Sunday's opponent, the Arizona Cardinals.

• Early defensive success makes Ryan toast of New Orleans - The Advocate

Rob Ryan for mayor? It seems silly to suggest — until you take a closer look at Ryan's budding local résumé. After all, he's accomplished more in two games as Saints defensive coordinator than the previous tackling guru.

•NFC South 2013: How the Saints Stack Up - Canal Street Chronicles

The New Orleans Saints are the only team in the NFC South to have played two division opponents to start the 2013 season. Two games, two wins. Two rivals down, one to go.

Tuesday, September 17

• New Orleans Saints re-sign cornerback Chris Carr, agent says -

The move is likely due to the leg injury cornerback Patrick Robinson sustained during Sunday's 16-14 win in Tampa Bay.

• New Orleans Saints offense takes advantage of another impressive defensive stand: Film Study -

The Saints were one first down away from being toast. Tampa Bay came back to the field after the two-minute warning needing only six yards to put New Orleans away and the Saints only possessed one timeout.

• A couple of Saints stats to raise eyebrows in a good way, and a bad way -

First on the positive side, the Saints rank 11th in total defense for the first time in ages. Even better, the Saints are tied for sixth in the NFL in points allowed giving up 15.5 points per game.

• Power Rankings: No. 8 New Orleans Saints -

The New Orleans Saints held steady at No. 8, which is fitting after they squeaked out a 16-14 victory at Tampa Bay. It was a good win -- but not exactly a pretty one. And for the second week in a row, the No. 8 ranking seems just about right for a 2-0 Saints team that is still trying to prove it is back among the upper echelon of NFL contenders.

• Sean Payton reviews win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers -

Coach Payton met with media members on Monday afternoon to discuss Sunday's game.

• Rob Ryan will be the difference for the 2013 New Orleans Saints - Yahoo! Contributor Network

After allowing the most yards in NFL history in 2012, the Saints hired Rob Ryan as their new defensive coordinator. New Orleans felt that Ryan's 3-4 scheme was a better fit for its defensive personnel. What the Saints needed was a way to generate pressure on opposing QBs without having to blitz.

• Saints wide receiver Nick Toon not being utitlized - Canal Street Chronicles

Nick Toon was listed as a healthy scratch in the Saints' 16-14 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday in favor of Robert Meachem and has hardly been seen so far this season. Why is this talented wide receiver being wasted?

Monday, September 16

Saints won one the hard way against Buccaneers -

Call it improbable. Call it seemingly unlikely.

Whatever the label, finish off the description by calling it a win by the New Orleans Saints on Sunday at Raymond James Stadium, a 16-14 decision over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers that was dominated by fits and starts and divided by a 69-minute weather delay.

Upon Further Review: Saints Week 2 - ESPN

New Orleans' defense looked very good in the season-opening win against Atlanta. But when you have a defense that ranked No. 32 in the league last season, it's natural to remain skeptical after only one good outing.

New Orleans Saints' Sean Payton lauds Jimmy Graham for stepping up after helmet-to-helmet hit -

New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton has seen a bone crunching helmet-to-helmet hit on tight end Jimmy Graham enough times by now to have it permanently seared in his brain.

5 things to know from Saints-Buccaneers -

No one has to remind the New Orleans Saints how special Drew Brees can be in clutch situations.

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