Haslett wants focus on Vikings, not playoffs

By By Richard Dark / EMG staff writer
Dec. 10, 2002
NEW ORLEANS Late last week, New Orleans Saints receiver Horn said the team needed to take care of business up in Baltimore to show him they truly "had their identity back."
After a 37-25 win left the Saints on the verge of an NFC playoff berth there's no doubt this team knows exactly who they are.
On Monday, those surrounding the team were clamoring to talk about and speculate this week's looming playoff possibilities.
But to the surprise of no one, coach Jim Haslett didn't want to look ahead, saying the only thing that matters is that the Saints continue their roll and worry only about beating Minnesota at home this weekend.
But for the record coach, a win over the Vikings Sunday, coupled with either a loss or tie by the New York Giants, or a win or tie by the Philadelphia Eagles, will assure postseason play after a one-year absence.
The first part of that equation will be no easy task, especially if one puts much stock in the team's current injury situation.
Head trainer Scottie Patton accompanied Haslett to the Monday press conference for the second consecutive week, largely to answer questions regarding the health of the arm of starting quarterback Aaron Brooks, who left Sunday's game in the second half after being sacked twice. Haslett alluded to not wanting to risk the bruised shoulder getting hit. Patton characterized Brooks as having experienced "muscle fatigue" in the affected area.
Despite that, Brooks is doing better this week and he did not take a hit to the injured area, Patton said. The only new injury to the Saints was a right wrist sprain suffered by defensive lineman Norman Hand. Patton said Hand is listed as probable.
Haslett said any decision regarding how much time Brooks or backup Jake Delhomme, who had an impressive second half effort in relief against the Ravens, will play won't be determined until later in the week.
Haslett admitted that two important factors had to be achieved where Brooks is concerned, to get him healthy first and foremost and to get him back into a comfortable rhythm. The coach refused to speculate whether that would mean increased playing time for Delhomme.
Haslett did say that benching Brooks for a week before the end of the season for healing purposes wasnt an alternative they were at all leaning toward.
Another factor in the victory over the Ravens was the continued improvement of the run defense.