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Haslett saw some good in loss to the Panthers

By By Richard Dark / EMG staff writer
Oct. 9, 2003
METAIRIE, La. For only the second time since the regular season began, coach Jim Haslett had a reason to be positive at his weekly Monday afternoon press conference. And he wasn't nearly as testy.
Just think how he'll be when and if and when they get back on the winning track.
Unlike their other three losses, the Saints were competitive and had a chance to pull out a road game, but were unable to execute and recover onside kick with 1:47 to play after a John Carney field goal pulled them to with the final margin.
Citing improvement, the embattled coach talked more about the positives of Sunday's 19-13 loss to the Carolina Panthers.
They now sit at 1-4, the worst such start in the Haslett era. The Saints host the Chicago Bears, also a 1-4 club.
While as a whole, both the offense and defense did not have any serious breakdowns; the absence of Michael Lewis was certainly noticeable.
The main pain and most glaring was the 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Carolina special teamer Rod "He Hate Me" Smart. "If we'd have had Michael Lewis, that wouldn't have happened," Haslett said, referring to his raw rundown speed.
One of the bright spots defensively was the play of S Victor Green and LB Orlando Ruff. Ruff had 10 tackles. In personnel moves, the team waived Henry Ford, when they activated wideout Talman Gardner before the game.
Haslett said the team came out in good shape on injuries, saying although there are a few bumps and bruises; no one should miss next week.
Penalties weren't terribly numerous (seven), but the coach pointed to a trio that went a long way toward hurting them, by prolonging Panther drives and thwarting their own.
Running back McAllister, who played, despite suffering from flu-like symptoms, did not go to the hospital prior to the game as reported by FOX. He instead, received an IV at the hotel, for fluid replenishment. He should be fine to begin practice this week, the coach said.
McAllister ran the ball well, gaining 124 yards on 23 carries and being Aaron Brooks' best target with four catches for 59 yards. That total of 183 yards marks his highest total as a pro. Conversely, the bulkiness and persistent work by Panther running back Stephen Davis methodically wore down the thin defense in the second half. Davis' 159 yards Sunday vaulted him to tops in the NFC.
That may not happen until the defensive line puts in a production similar to the Houston game.
With now five starters still out of commission a unit, the unit has only forced six punts in 29 defensive possessions.