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WEEK 2 STORY LINES

Saints look to take advantage

For the second consecutive game, New Orleans will face a passer with little to no experience if Kevin Kolb starts for the Eagles.

September 16, 2009|SAM FARMER | ON THE NFL

The New Orleans Saints have not only Drew Brees on their side but fate.

If Kevin Kolb starts at quarterback for Philadelphia on Sunday, it will be the second consecutive week the Saints defense will face a passer with little to no experience. In the opener, New Orleans picked off Detroit rookie Matthew Stafford three times on its way to a 45-27 victory in which Brees threw a club-record six touchdown passes.

Kolb, likely filling in for Donovan McNabb (cracked rib), has played in eight games over the last three seasons, throwing for 167 yards with no touchdowns but four interceptions and two fumbles.

McNabb has said he will not know until later in the week whether he will feel good enough to play. The last time he faced the Saints, in Week 16 of the 2007 season, he completed 24 of 35 passes for 263 yards and three touchdowns in the Eagles' 38-23 victory.

The Eagles signed veteran Jeff Garcia on Monday, but it's unclear how or if they will use him. Michael Vick is not eligible to play until Week 3.

Hard yards

San Diego's LaDainian Tomlinson felt slighted this summer by a magazine story that suggested Minnesota's Adrian Peterson is the best running back in the league, and that Tomlinson has reaped the benefits of being in the Chargers' system.

If Tomlinson is looking to send the message that he's back, he's going to have to have better games than his opener, when he had 55 yards in 13 carries against the Oakland Raiders -- a team he normally torches -- a day after Peterson ran for 180 yards and three touchdowns at Cleveland. What's more, it was Darren Sproles and not Tomlinson who was on the field for the Chargers when the game was hanging in the balance.

Regardless, it won't get any easier for Tomlinson on Sunday, when the Chargers play host to Baltimore, whose defense was ranked second to Pittsburgh's last season. In his three games against the Ravens, his rushing yards dropped each time: 105 in 2003, 98 in 2006 and 77 in 2007.

Close encounters

The Dallas Cowboys will play their first regular-season game in their new stadium, playing host to the New York Giants on Sunday night. It will be the Giants' first look at the spaceship of a video board that hangs 90 feet above the field, although it's unlikely 43-year-old New York punter Jeff Feagles will boom one high enough to hit it.

The Giants were the last team the Cowboys beat at Texas Stadium -- the only victory for Dallas last December -- but New York didn't have receiver Plaxico Burress or running back Brandon Jacobs for that game.

Jacobs, who's still on the team, recently told ESPN's Matt Mosley that the Cowboys should have used better judgment about selecting an opponent for their stadium opener -- as if they actually had a choice -- saying, "They should've put Detroit in there instead of us."

Oh-and-no!

Kansas City has started 0-2 each of the last three seasons. Will new Coach Todd Haley break that trend? Even without starting quarterback Matt Cassel activated, Haley's team put up a good Week 1 fight at Baltimore.

Sunday, the Chiefs play host to the Raiders, unquestionably their most hated rival, and a team that beat them at home, 23-8, in Week 2 last season. Kansas City fans aren't asking the world of Haley (yet) but beating the Silver & Black is a non-negotiable.

Crack goes the spirit

The Raiders, who were surprisingly effective Monday in their opener against San Diego, lost the game on a five-yard draw for a touchdown by Sproles with 18 seconds to play.

The blank looks and stunned silence after that play were reminiscent of what happened in Oakland's home opener in 1997 -- also on "Monday Night Football" -- when the Chiefs escaped with a 28-27 victory after a last-second touchdown pass from Elvis Grbac to Andre Rison.

So wrenching was that loss to first-year Raiders coach Joe Bugel that he locked himself in his office and refused to speak with reporters after the game, instead nudging out respected cornerback Albert Lewis to be the mouthpiece for the team. Bugel was fired after that 4-12 season.

The question for today's Raiders is will they build off the good things from Monday's defeat, or play taps the way Bugel's bunch did?

--

sam.farmer@latimes.com

twitter.com/LATimesfarmer

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