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Friday, September 12, 2008
Saints' defense suddenly battered

By Pat Yasinskas
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

Remember all that talk about the Saints' defense after opening day? You might want to forget it.

Things aren't looking nearly as good today as the Saints announced three starters will be out for Sunday's game with Washington and backup linebacker Mark Simoneau will be lost for the season.

Cornerback Randall Gay, linebacker Scott Fujita and safety Roman Harper will miss the game against the Redskins. Individually, none of those injuries would be devastating because these are not the players the New Orleans defense is built around. Collectively, it's a big deal.

The defense isn't going to suddenly be as bad as it was last year and that's mainly because of the presence of linebacker Jonathan Vilma and defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis. There also is more depth than last year, but that's fading fast. The Saints are thin at defensive tackle, after letting the injured Hollis Thomas go.

The loss of Simoneau, a former starter, also leaves the Saints very thin at linebacker. With Fujita out, Troy Evans probably gets a start. There's a little more depth in the secondary, where veteran cornerback Aaron Glenn and safety Josh Bullocks probably will start. But Bullocks played his way out of the starting lineup last year and Glenn's not viewed as a long-term solution. There still is uncertainty if veteran cornerback Mike McKenzie, who is coming off major knee surgery, will make his return this week.