The Saints found a way to get back into the win column with a 16-14 victory over the Panthers after a tough over time loss to the Falcons last week, a game in which young kicker Garrett Hartley became the scape goat after missing a 29 yard field goal that could have won the game.
Kicker John Carney was signed last Tuesday on the heels of the Atlanta game, not necessarily to replace Hartley, but to assume the place kicking duties while helping him over come the struggles that have lead to a 4 of 7 kicking performance through three games after a perfect 5 of 5 post season performance last year.
Carney proved with his performance that the Saints made the right move by going a perfect 3 of 3 on field goals during the Carolina game kicking two from 32 yards and again from 25 to give them a two point lead and the eventual win.
Even better news than Carney’s performance for the Saints was the rushing attack executed by rookie Chris Ivory and veteran Ladell Betts who combined to rush for 122 yards, by far the Saints best output of the season.
Injuries sidelined starter Pierre Thomas during the contest and Reggie Bush is still recovering from a broken fibula suffered in week two’s win over the 49ers, forcing Ivory and Betts to carry the rush load.
Ivory averaged 5.5 yards per carry (12 carries, 67 yards) and Betts 3.6 yards per carry (13 carries, 47 yards) for healthy combined per carry average of 4.2 yards.
Thomas most likely will return when the Saints face the Arizona Cardinals this Sunday but Ivory and Betts are here to stay and should see a fair share of carries each during Bush’s absence.
Injuries are begginning to mount at the strong safety position and may be cause for concern as the Saints prepare for their games against Cardinals.
Starting strong safety Roman Harper was inactive against the Panthers after battling a hamstring injury giving the start to top backup Pierson Prioleau.
Prioleau was hit hard in the chest area early in the second quarter and immediately dropped to the turf in pain, it was clear after the shot that he was having trouble trying to breath.
He was taken in and given X-Rays which came back negative although he did not return to the game.
Chris Reis, who recovered the onside kick during Super Bowl XLIV, replaced Prioleau in the lineup but he too was injured later in the third quarter while covering a kick with an apparent shoulder injury. He also did not return to the game.
Usama Young, a backup up at free safety, took over for Reis and ironically enough finished the game as the top tackler with five stops including a sack of Panther quarterback Jimmy Clausen.
He was also instrumental in stopping the Panthers final drive when he dropped running back DeAngelo Williams for a four yard loss that effectively moved Carolina out of the field goal range of their kicker John Kasay.
Harper’s status for this Sunday’s game is still uncertain and now the Saints find themselves thin at the position after the injuries to Prioleau and Reis, the good news is of course that most likely Harper and Prioleau should be okay to play.
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