November 2, 2007

Faine ruled out, Simmons could start for Shanle; examining the matchups

Injury Update: C Jeff Faine will miss his second straight game with a pectoral injury. Jonathan Goodwin will start his second game of the season. Starting left guard Jamar Nesbit will be the backup center.

Weakside linebacker Scott Shanle is doubtful to play, and veteran Brian Simmons is expected to fill in, along with Troy Evans.



Another linebacker that has been limited in practice is special teamer Alfred Fincher. If both Shanle and Fincher are out, the Saints could make a move to promote a free agent off the practice squad so that they can compensate for the losses on special teams. Rookie linebacker Marvin Mitchell is expected to be active.

DE Charles Grant returned to practice on Friday after working through a minor ankle injury.

DT Brian Young did practice, though the Saints have been taking it easy on the veteran defensive tackle after two minor knee surgeries in the past two weeks.

Tough matchups: Charles Grant and Will Smith have a tough task ahead of them. The Jaguars offensive line averages listed weights of 320 pounds, but the offensive tackles are towers: 6'5, 325 pound Khalif Barnes and 6'6, 320 pound Tony Pashos. Both are good run blockers, and the Jaguars are expected to bulldoze the Saints with an inexperienced quarterback under center.

Both Smith and Grant play at under 300 pounds, though Grant is one of the best run defender ends in the league and faces a tough matchup against right guard and former Saints Chris Naeole and right tackle Pashos.

Superb Jaguars CB Rashean Mathis was loved by the Saints before the 2003 draft, and reportedly told by the Saints that he would be heading to New Orleans with one of their first two draft picks. But the Saints traded up to #6 to take Jonathan Sullivan, then passed on Mathis again in the second round to take Jon Stinchcomb. Two picks after the Saints drafted their starting right tackle, the Jaguars took Mathis, the super athletic small-school gem from Bethune-Cookman.

Now, Mathis is one of the best cornerbacks - if not the best - in the NFL.

The Jags will use Mathis to counter the Saints' own recent small-school gem, Marques Colston. If anyone in the NFL can match up against the Saints' 6'4, 230 pound receiver it is the 6'1, 200 pound Mathis. The Jags' other starter, 5'11, 198 pound Brian Williams, is slow but very physical and also a decent matchup for the Jags against Colston. Instead, the Saints will target Williams with Devery Henderson, Lance Moore and David Patten, who can take advantage of Williams with their speed and quickness.

The Saints may be willing to let Colston fight against Mathis while their other receivers try to take advantage of Williams. Using motion and typical unconventional formations, the Saints would love to match Colston on pint-size nickelbacks Terry Cousin (5'9, 185) and Scott Starks (5'9, 180).

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