Atlanta (3-2) at New Orleans (2-3)

  • Game info: 1:00 pm EDT Sun Oct 16, 2005
  • TV: FOX
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Atlanta Falcons are hoping Michael Vick is healthy enough to start against the New Orleans Saints, but their problems on defense might be even more pressing.

Vick was forced to sit out last week’s 31-28 loss to New England due to a sprained right knee, though he said Wednesday he expects to play in this contest.

“I heal pretty fast,” Vick said. “Yes, I think I will be playing on Sunday. I have to continue to treat my knee and make sure that it is nice and sturdy when I get out there.”

It’s conceivable Vick could be held out for a second straight week. Backup Matt Schaub showed he could run the offense, tossing three touchdown passes with no interceptions against the Patriots.

Though he has not gone so far as to name Vick his starter, coach Jim Mora is anxious to have Vick back on the field.

“I’ve only been here for three games that he hasn’t started, and we’re 0-3 in them,” Mora said.

Vick’s health isn’t Mora’s only concern as the defense played poorly against New England, allowing a season-high 31 points and 483 yards of total offense. Middle linebacker Ed Hartwell suffered a season-ending Achilles tendon injury during the defeat, and Pro Bowl defensive end Patrick Kerney remains questionable for Sunday with an abdominal injury.

The Saints aren’t exactly the picture of good health.

New Orleans will be without running back Deuce McAllister for the rest of the season due to a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, suffered in Sunday’s humiliating 52-3 loss to Green Bay.

“(On Tuesday) guys were moping around because Deuce got hurt,” Saints coach Jim Haslett said. “But I was talking to (quarterback) Aaron (Brooks), and I said, ‘How did you get your job? Guys got hurt. You didn’t have any remorse, didn’t have any regrets. You came in and led us to our only playoff win ever.’

“I think this team will rally around something like this. I really do.”

Haslett said the team has to play better to compensate for the loss of McAllister, beginning with running backs Antowain Smith and Aaron Stecker. The duo will share rushing duties this week, according to Haslett.

Smith, 35, is in his ninth season and with his third team in three years. He admits his career is “winding down.”

Stecker is trying to come back from an ankle sprain suffered when he fumbled the opening kickoff three weeks ago against Minnesota.

Stecker started two games last year while McAllister was injured, and New Orleans went 1-1 during that stretch. He gained 106 yards on 18 carries, including a 42-yard touchdown run, in a 28-25 overtime victory over St. Louis on Sept. 26, 2004.

Stecker also returned a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown against Tampa Bay on Dec. 19.

“I thought I showed enough, but in the offseason they got Antowain,” Stecker said. “This is a team game. If that’s what the team decides, I’ll go out there and perform and help the team out, regardless of how I feel.

“I won’t be pouting. If I did, I wouldn’t be prepared.”

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Team Stat Leaders

Passing Yards
Rushing Yards
Receiving Yards

Scoreboard

Preseason
  Thursday, Aug 18  
  New Orleans
New England 37
27 Final
      Friday, Aug 19  
  Tennessee
Atlanta 24
21 Final
     
  Cincinnati
Washington 24
17 Final
     
  Minnesota
NY Jets 21
28 Final
      Saturday, Aug 20  
  Cleveland
Detroit 21
13 Final
     
  Green Bay
Buffalo 7
27 Final
     
  Jacksonville
Tampa Bay 20
17 Final
     
  Miami
Pittsburgh 3
17 Final
     
  Philadelphia
Baltimore 20
14 Final
     
  Carolina
NY Giants 21
27 Final
     
  Chicago
Indianapolis 24
17 Final
     
  Oakland
Houston 17
19 Final
     
  Arizona
Kansas City 24
17 Final
     
  San Francisco
Denver 21
26 Final
      Sunday, Aug 21  
  St. Louis
San Diego 21
36 Final
      Monday, Aug 22  
  Dallas
Seattle 18
10 Final