NFC South: Kevin Kaesviharn

Panthers announce moves

September, 5, 2009
9/05/09
6:43
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com’s Pat Yasinskas


I’ll be back in a bit with team-by-team analysis of cut-down day. The Panthers were the final team to announce their moves.

They placed rookie defensive tackle Corvey Irvin on the injured-reserve list and terminated the contracts of offensive lineman Justin Geisinger and Kevin Kaesviharn.

Carolina also waived receiver Larry Beavers, running back DeCori Birmingham, defensive lineman Casper Brinkley, offensive lineman Patrick Brown, quarterback Hunter Cantwell, receiver Jason Cherry, safety Paul Chiara, defensive back DJ Clark, tight end Andrew Davie, defensive tackle Marlon Favorite, defensive back Joe Fields, offensive lineman, Keith Gray, linebacker Anthony Heygood, defensive tackle George Hypolite, linebacker Mortty Irvin, running back Jamall Lee, linebacker Jeremy Leman, receiver Kevin McMahan, receiver Marcus Monk, offensive lineman Jonathan Palmer and linebacker Kelvin Smith.

Saints add veteran DT Coleman

March, 27, 2009
3/27/09
8:24
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

Rod Coleman is back in the NFC South.

The Saints agreed to terms with the former Atlanta defensive tackle Friday. Coleman, 32, spent last season out of the NFL, but has decided to rejoin New Orleans defensive line coach Bill Johnson.

Coleman was coached by Johnson when the two were in Atlanta. Coleman played for the Falcons from 2004 through 2007 and led all defensive tackles in sacks in 2004 and 2005. Coleman spent the first four seasons of his career with Oakland.

The Saints also released safety Kevin Kaesviharn.

Second-year pro Sedrick Ellis is set as one starter at defensive tackle. Coleman likely will compete with Hollis Thomas, Kendrick Clancy and Brian Young for the other spot.

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

We've noted before how the Saints have managed to stay active in free agency, despite limited salary-cap room.

 Prioleau

This one's not on the level of signing cornerback Jabari Greer or safety Darren Sharper, but the Saints added some more depth to their defensive backfield Thursday by signing veteran safety Pierson Prioleau.

That's not going to change the plan to use Sharper as the starting free safety and Roman Harper at strong safety. However, it gives the Saints another experienced backup to go with Kevin Kaesviharn, and it may keep the team from going through with the possible move of cornerback Usama Young to safety.

Prioleau gives the Saints an instant insurance policy at safety because he already knows the defense after spending last year in Jacksonville with coordinator Gregg Williams. A 10-year veteran, Prioleau also has been a regular on special teams throughout his career.

More on Sharper pickup

March, 18, 2009
3/18/09
7:11
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

The Saints just sent out the official announcement about Darren Sharper agreeing to terms. That gives me an opportunity for a few more thoughts and notes about this move.

First, a couple of numbers. Sharper leads all active NFL players with 54 career interceptions. He's been to four Pro Bowls in a 12-year career that's been split between the Packers and Vikings. He's returned eight interceptions for touchdowns, which ties him for fifth place in NFL history.

Next, a quote from general manager Mickey Loomis, who has done a very nice job of getting free agents despite limited salary-cap room.

"We are pleased to announce the addition of Darren to our team,” Loomis said. "Darren is an accomplished veteran player that brings a wealth of knowledge and ability to our secondary and has always possessed outstanding instincts and playmaking skills.”

Finally, Loomis will have to keep juggling the cap. We don't know details on Sharper's contract yet, but this could prompt the Saints to restructure some veteran contracts or release some players. With the arrival of Sharper and cornerback Jabari Greer, veteran defensive backs Kevin Kaesviharn, Mike McKenzie and Jason David might not be on very solid ground.

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

After a rather quiet start to free agency, the NFC South suddenly is making a lot of noise.

On the heels of Tampa Bay's signing of linebacker Angelo Crowell earlier Wednesday, ESPN's John Clayton now reports the New Orleans Saints have agreed to contract terms with veteran safety Darren Sharper.

This move could go a long way in solving the secondary woes New Orleans' defense has had the last two seasons. Sharper is 33, but hasn't shown any real signs he's slowing down. He immediately gives the Saints a quality starter at free safety and a big upgrade over Kevin Kaesviharn.

Sharper's arrival comes after the Saints signed free-agent cornerback Jabari Greer. That gives the Saints two established veterans, who will step right into the starting lineup. Sharper also should help make strong safety Roman Harper better. Harper's best at playing the run and in short coverage. Because of other problems in the secondary, Harper often had to help out in deep coverage last year and that's not his strength.

New coordinator Gregg Williams suddenly has some pretty good options in the secondary. Cornerback Tracy Porter is coming back after suffering an injury near the midpoint of his rookie year. Cornerbacks Randall Gay and Usama Young also will be in the mix.

Although Sharper's arrival would suggest the Saints might now go with a defensive lineman, linebacker or running back in the first round of the draft, don't rule out possibilities like defensive backs Malcolm Jenkins and Vontae Davis with the No. 14 picks. Recent history has shown you can never have enough quality defensive backs.

Besides, Sharper's bound to slow down at some point. It might not be a bad idea to draft someone like Jenkins, who could be a cornerback or a safety. The Saints could draft him and bring him along slowly for a year.

Evening roundup

February, 27, 2009
2/27/09
6:57
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

With Kellen Winslow and Jonathan Vilma dominating the headlines most of the day, it's time for a quick trip through the other matters circulating through the NFC South on the first day of free agency.

Larry Holder writes that Jacksonville safety Gerald Sensabaugh will visit the Saints on Saturday. The Saints want to upgrade free safety Kevin Kaesviharn and Sensabaugh played for new coordinator Gregg Williams with the Jaguars last season.

Holder also writes the Bucs may be interested in New Orleans wide receiver Devery Henderson. Makes sense because Henderson has the speed to be the kind of down-field threat coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski wants.

Scott Reynolds and Jim Flynn report the Bucs may target cornerbacks Jabari Greer and Jamar Fletcher if they're unable to re-sign Phillip Buchanon.

David Scott reports Carolina linebacker Jon Beason had surgery to repair a torn labrum, but expects to be ready for training camp.

D. Orlando Ledbetter reports the Falcons have re-signed safety Jamaal Fudge, who expects to compete for the starting job left open by Lawyer Milloy's departure.

Saints set up visit with CB Bartell

February, 27, 2009
2/27/09
12:43
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

The New Orleans Saints have been saying for weeks they won't be major players in free agency. That still may turn out to be true, but the Saints aren't going about it passively.

 Bartell

John Clayton reports the Saints contacted the agent for cornerback Ron Bartell soon after the free-agency period began, and have set up a visit for Friday. That doesn't mean the Saints, who are tight against the salary cap, will sign Bartell, but they're at least pursuing a player at one of the positions they need to address most.

New Orleans' secondary was a problem throughout much of last season, and adding a player like Bartell could help solidify things as new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams takes over.

Bartell, 27, was a second-round pick by the St. Louis Rams in 2005 and has been a starter most of the past two seasons. At 6-foot-1 and 209 pounds, he can line up against some of the league's bigger receivers.

The Saints have high hopes for Tracy Porter, who will be returning after an injury suffered near the midpoint of his rookie season. Veteran Mike McKenzie remains on the roster, but is recovering from his second major injury in two years.

The Saints also are expected to look for help at free safety, where Kevin Kaesviharn struggled much of last season.

Mailbag: New Orleans Saints edition

February, 10, 2009
2/10/09
2:40
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

Again, thanks for flooding the mailbag. There literally were over 100 questions just on the Saints and a similar number on the Falcons, whose mailbag will be coming later today. Obviously, I can't answer every single question. So I went with ones that represented what you wanted to talk about most.

Here we go:

David in Vancouver writes: Assuming Mike McKenzie comes back 100% from his latest injury, do you see the Saints attempting to transition him to Free Safety ?

Pat Yasinskas: Mike McKenzie's health is a big question at this point. He did a great job coming back from a knee injury last year. But he was hit by bad luck and tore up his knee again. He faces a long recovery and he is going to be 33 in April. If he can get back on the field, I think a move to safety might be wise for McKenzie and the Saints. Free safety Kevin Kaesviharn didn't have a good year last season and the Saints clearly need to upgrade in free agency. Again, assuming McKenzie can get healthy, I don't think a transition to free safety would be too difficult for a sharp veteran like him.


Gordon in New Orleans writes: Think Charles Grant & Will Smith will feel bulls eyes on their backs this training camp, or was their play the scapegoat?

Pat Yasinskas: I think defensive ends Charles Grant and Will Smith should feel some pressure. They're both very talented, but they didn't play anywhere near their potential last year, although injuries played a role in that. I suspect new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams and defensive line coach Bill Johnson will try to late a fire under them. If, Grant and Smith can start producing, I think New Orleans could have a pretty good pass rush. I like Bobby McCray as a pass-rush specialist in the No. 3 defensive end role and I saw signs last year that rookie defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis can generate a push in the middle.


Ryan in New Orleans writes: What positions on defense do you think the saints will try to upgrade in the draft and free agency? What players would they look to get in the draft and free agency?

Pat Yasinskas: That's a pretty long list. We mentioned free safety above and I think cornerback also is a priority. I liked what I saw out of Tracy Porter before he got hurt last season. But I think the Saints need another top-notch corner. I also think it might be time to bring in another defensive end to help push Grant and Smith. Another defensive tackle to go with Ellis also would be nice. Assuming the Saints are able to re-sign middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma and outside linebacker Dan Morgan is able to come out of retirement and stay healthy, the Saints aren't in bad shape at linebacker. Scott Fujita and Scott Shanle need to make the plays they're supposed to, but I think adding one more young, speedy linebacker would help. Free agency and the draft right now are a bit of a challenge for the Saints. As of the moment, the Saints are over the salary cap. They'll do some trimming to get under, but I don't think they'll have a lot of money to play with, so I think they'll focus on some mid-level guys. They're also in a strange spot with the draft because, as of this moment, they only have four draft picks.


Tyler in Reynoldsburg Ohio writes: What are the Saints going to do with only a 1st round pick in the first 3 rounds and their salary cap all out of whack with people like Vilma, Moore,and Jahri Evans needing resigned? i know deuce needs to go or retire for cap space but what about restructuring Smith's and Grant's monster contracts?

Pat Yasinskas: Although the cap situation is far from ideal, it's not a disaster. General manager Mickey Loomis is a smart guy and he knows how to work the cap and there are plenty of ways to free up space. The Saints likely will release some players (Deuce McAllister) and that will help. Restructuring contracts of some veterans also is a common and painless way to free up money. The Saints should be able to do some of that and have enough room to re-sign their own guys. But, again, don't expect them to be big spenders in free agency.


Aaron in London writes: Do you see New Orleans Saints with a questionable secondary making a play for Leigh Bodden after his release. Bodden is a young press cover corner who would fir the Saints scheme perfectly. His stock is down due to an inept franchise and playing in a zone scheme that mis-cast him. I think Bodden could be the bargain of the off-season. If not the Saints, where will his likely destination be? I'm worried the savvy Patriots in need or corner help may snap him up and transform Bodden into a pro bowler.

Pat Yasinskas: I like Leigh Bodden as a player and someone like him could help solve a lot of problems. He's definitely a possibility, but a lot depends on what kind of interest there is in him around the league. As we've said several times, the Saints aren't in a position to spend big money on a free agent. If they could land Bodden at a reasonable price, though, I think that would be a nice move.


Gerald in Jennings, Louisiana writes: Hey Pat, loved your article all year. I'm looking forward to reading more. With the offense that the Saints possess, it seems if we can get consistent on the running game our offense will be able to carry us to the SuperBowl. The main concern for the Saints is there defense. I personally believe we have some of the personnel on defense to be a top 15 unit, but I feel its our scheme that hurt us the most. What are your thoughts on the Saints and there chances of reaching the SuperBowl with Gregg Williams running our defense?

Pat Yasinskas: I think Sean Payton might already have made his best move of the upcoming season by hiring Gregg Williams. The Saints clearly had problems on defense last year. They do have some talent in place and they'll add more in the offseason. But I think the biggest thing is attitude and approach. Williams is known for having an aggressive defense and I think he'll push some players who haven't been pushed before. If the Saints can just get their defense to be average, they can be a very good team.


Jarrod in morgan city,La writes: With the Saints having the number one offense in the NFL this year and not making it to the playoffs. Do you think that this could be attributed to play calls? (third/forth and short not using D.
McAllister). Wouldn't it seem plosible to move R. Bush to a slot reciever position, making P. Thomas your premiere running back and holding on to D. McAllister for one more year as a third down back?

Pat Yasinskas: I'm with you on using Pierre Thomas as the main back and using Reggie Bush as more of a receiver. But I truly don't think Deuce McAllister will be back. I know that's painful and difficult for Saints' fans to accept. But Payton barely played McAllister last year. I just don't think he figures into Payton's plans. I think the Saints will add a short-yardage back through free agency or the draft.


Tom in South Carolina writes: Do you expect Dan Morgan, after sitting out basically 2 years due to injury and retirement, to make a major impact and make a run for a starting spot, or will he more likely only be a serviceable backup and veteran leader, assuming he is healthy?

Pat Yasinskas: Obviously, there's no guarantee Dan Morgan can stay healthy. But I will say the Saints would get a huge boost if Morgan comes back and can stay on the field. I covered Morgan throughout his career and I don't think people truly realize how great a player he was, when he was healthy. The Saints have nothing to lose and everything to gain if Morgan comes back.

Hot Button: NFC South

February, 10, 2009
2/10/09
10:15
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

Carolina Panthers

 
  Greg Trott/Getty Images
  Julius Peppers' situation has made things complicated in Carolina.
Primary issue: The Panthers face one of the league's most challenging starts to the offseason with defensive end Julius Peppers and offensive tackle Jordan Gross eligible to become free agents. Both are Pro Bowlers and were critical in Carolina's 12-4 season. They also were the first two draft picks by coach John Fox and general manager Marty Hurney, and would play their entire careers in Carolina if the Panthers had their way.

The problem is this isn't a perfect world. There's only one franchise tag and the Panthers could use it on Peppers at around $17 million or Gross at nearly $9 million. This gets even more complicated because Peppers has made it clear he wants out of Carolina and Gross has said he wants to stay.

The Panthers have to come out of this with something in return. They can get two first-round picks if they franchise one of these guys and another team signs him to an offer sheet. But it's more likely and realistic that they'll franchise one and turn around and trade him.

Hot Button Archive
Kuharsky: AFC South
Yasinskas: NFC South
Seifert: NFC North
Walker: AFC North
Sando: NFC West
Williamson: AFC West
Graham: AFC East
Mosley: NFC East

Solution: The bottom line here is you might as well keep the guy who wants to be with you. Pay Gross his money before the start of free agency. Franchise Peppers and unload him for whatever you can get.

Secondary concern: No matter what happens with Peppers, the Panthers need to juice up their defensive line. A few years back, it was supposedly the best in the league when Peppers played with Mike Rucker, Kris Jenkins and Brentson Buckner. Those three are long gone and Peppers is about to join them.

The Panthers have some nice role players in guys like Maake Kemoeatu, Damione Lewis and Charles Johnson. But they don't have any cornerstones.

Solution: The Panthers need to get a first-round pick for Peppers and use it on a defensive end. The other option would be signing a high-priced free agent, but there's not a lot out there and the Panthers aren't flush with cap space. They've got to be aggressive in pursuing some midlevel defensive tackles in free agency.


New Orleans Saints

 
  G. Newman Lowrance/Getty Images
  Jonathan Vilma (top) and the Saints have yet to agree on a deal.
Primary issue: Linebacker Jonathan Vilma was one of the few bright spots on the defense last season, but he can become a free agent. Vilma has said he wants to return and the Saints have said they want him back. But there is no deal in place yet and the Saints are waiting until the start of free agency to keep down the cost of draft picks they owe the New York Giants and Jets in trades for Vilma and tight end Jeremy Shockey.

It's a little risky to let Vilma hang out there because another team could swoop in and steal him away. But you have to believe the Saints will make sure they keep Vilma. They need him to be the centerpiece of the defense for new coordinator Gregg Williams to succeed.

Solution: Hope they've already got a handshake deal in place with Vilma. The Saints have a bunch of other needs and they can't afford to let their one certainty get away.

Secondary issue: The Saints need to overhaul their secondary -- again. They've got a keeper in cornerback Tracy Porter, who missed much of his rookie year with an injury. Roman Harper is passable as a strong safety if the Saints can add some cover guys around him. Cornerback Mike McKenzie is 34 and coming off another major injury, and free safety Kevin Kaesviharn got beat far too often last year.

Solution: The Saints have to get at least one more quality cornerback and a free safety. The problem is they don't have a lot of cap room and have only four draft picks at the moment. But the good news is the Saints are pretty much set on offense. They need to use pretty much their entire draft and whatever cap space they can clear on getting some defensive help.


Tampa Bay Buccaneers

 
  Dale Zanine/US Presswire
  Antonio Bryant was the Bucs' top receiver last year, but he's up for free agency.
Primary issue: Under offensive guru Jon Gruden, the Bucs never had much consistency on offense. New coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski will install a much-needed vertical passing game and it looks like the Bucs will give Luke McCown a chance to win the quarterback job.

But the Bucs need to give McCown a fair chance and Jagodzinski's offense an opportunity to succeed. The best way to do that is with some downfield targets and the Bucs didn't have many of those last year. Veteran Joey Galloway is likely on his way out of Tampa Bay because of age and last year's injuries.

Antonio Bryant stepped up as the No. 1 receiver last year and he's scheduled to become a free agent. After Bryant, the Bucs got almost nothing out of their wide receivers last year.

Solution: With more than $40 million in cap space, the Bucs absolutely have to re-sign Bryant before free agency starts. But they can't stop there. There should be a good crop of free agents available and several more receivers could be available by trade. Tampa Bay's passing game was horizontal last season. Jagodzinski wants to make it vertical this year. But the Bucs need to get him some guys who can get open downfield.

Secondary issue: Much like the rest of the team, the defensive line fell apart at the end of last season. Kevin Carter and Chris Hovan started looking old. Defensive tackle Jovan Haye was hurt much of last season and not very effective when he was on the field.

Solution: With all that cap money, the Bucs almost have to make a run at defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth or Peppers. All they really have on the defensive line is end Gaines Adams, who is still a work in progress. They can let Haye walk as a free agent and it's not inconceivable that they might free up more cap room by cutting Hovan and Carter. The Bucs need to work on the line heavily in free agency and the draft.


Atlanta Falcons

 
  Kirby Lee/US Presswire
  The Falcons will have to find a replacement for the aging Lawyer Milloy.
Primary issue: The Atlanta defense overachieved last season and the coaches and front office know upgrades are needed at several spots. The most notable might be the two outside linebacker spots, where Michael Boley played his way out of the starting lineup last season and Keith Brooking showed his age.

The Falcons liked Coy Wire after he took over for Boley late last season. Wire and Boley are both scheduled to be free agents and Brooking presents a dilemma for the Falcons.

Brooking has spent his entire career with Atlanta, grew up in Georgia and played at Georgia Tech. He's been a good soldier through some good and bad times. But it's clear Brooking is near the end of his career. The Falcons found a good middle linebacker in Curtis Lofton in last year's draft. Now, they have to surround him with talent.

Solution: The Falcons might as well let Boley walk. The Brooking situation could work itself out. Brooking did some broadcasting after the season and it's possible he could decide to retire. That would end things gracefully. If that doesn't happen, the Falcons might have to release him. They should make a decent attempt to keep Wire, but linebacker has to be a priority in the draft and free agency.

Secondary issue: Safety Lawyer Milloy's experience was one of the reasons the secondary played beyond its talent level last season. He made guys like safety Erik Coleman and cornerbacks Chris Houston and Domonique Foxworth better than they really were. But Milloy is near the end of his career and it doesn't make a lot of sense to re-sign him to a long-term deal.

Solution: The Falcons will continue to try to help the secondary out by generating some pass rush from someone other than defensive end John Abraham. But, even with more pressure on opposing quarterbacks, the Falcons need some younger legs in the secondary. They need a replacement for Milloy and it wouldn't hurt to get another quality cornerback, too.

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

Fine work by the Times-Picayune's Jeff Duncan in getting the full 2009 salary cap breakdown for the Saints. With the Saints already over the cap, there's going to be some major movement.

Just scanning through Duncan's list, here are some guys I think could be out of New Orleans because of their salary-cap figures: Receiver David Patten, running back Deuce McAllister, guard Jamar Nesbit, defensive tackle Brian Young, cornerbacks Jason David and Mike McKenzie and safety Kevin Kaesviharn.

The Saints also can free up some cap space by restructuring the contracts of some of their veterans, and defensive end Will Smith would be a prime candidate for that.

Evening roundup

December, 4, 2008
12/04/08
9:58
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

A quick look at some more events of the day in the NFC South.

BUCCANEERS

Quarterback Jeff Garcia is 5-0 in his career against the Panthers. But only three of those wins have come in the John Fox era and Garcia's numbers have been steady, but far from spectacular in those meetings. In 2006 with Philadelphia and in two games since joining the Bucs, Garcia has completed 60.7 percent of his passes, averaged 220.3 passing yards and has thrown four touchdowns with no interceptions, according to ESPN researcher Vince Masi.

FALCONS

Rookie left tackle Sam Baker made it through his second straight day of practice with no problems after returning from back surgery. But Baker still may be at least a week away from playing.

PANTHERS

Bucs coach Jon Gruden compared Carolina receiver Steve Smith to Freddy Krueger. We'll assume the coach meant on the field.

SAINTS

New Orleans signed defensive end Tearrius George off Dallas' practice squad to fill the roster spot that came open when the Saints placed safety Kevin Kaesviharn on the injured reserve list.

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

If you want to know one reason why the Saints are 6-6, take a look at their injured reserve list.

As of now, it contains either 14 or 15 guys, depending on how you want to calculate it. Safety Kevin Kaesviharn was added Thursday. Defensive end Charles Grant, who is waiting for a federal hearing Friday on his four-game league suspension is on the reserve-suspended list, but he had been on injured reserve for several weeks.

With either 14 or 15 guys on the injured reserve list, the Saints are way ahead of the league average, which is 7.7 players. Only the Cincinnati Bengals (16) currently have more players on injured reserve. Baltimore has 14 and Seattle, New England and Denver have 11 each. By comparison, the teams with the fewest injured reserve players are Arizona with two and Philadelphia and Carolina with three each.

With Kaesviharn out, the Saints likely will turn to Josh Bullocks as the starter at free safety.

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

Here's a quick roundup of the events of the day in the NFC South.

PANTHERS
Cornerback Ken Lucas was listed on the injury report with a head injury, but he fully participated in Wednesday's practice. Linebacker Adam Seward (ankle) and defensive end Hilee Taylor did not practice.

Guard Travelle Wharton gets some international pub for his big fumble recovery Sunday and his strong season overall.

BUCCANEERS
Tampa Bay didn't practice Wednesday, but they did put out an injury report, as required by the NFL. The Bucs specified that the report is only an estimate, but they estimated that defensive tackle Jovan Haye (knee) wouldn't have practiced and quarterback Brian Griese (elbow), receiver Ike Hilliard (shoulder), tight end Alex Smith (ankle) and defensive end Gaines Adams (hip) would have participated on a limited basis. The Bucs return to practice Thursday.

SAINTS
Fullback Mike Karney practiced for the first time since suffering a knee injury Nov. 9. Running back Reggie Bush also participated fully. Safety Kevin Kaesviharn (shoulder) did not practice and is doubtful for Sunday's game with Atlanta.

The Saints signed defensive end Rob Ninkovich and safety Terrence Holt to fill the roster spots for the suspended Deuce McAllister and Will Smith.

FALCONS
Rookie left tackle Sam Baker took a big step in his return from back surgery. He's been out since Week Six, but returned to the practice field on a limited basis Wednesday. But my best guess is we're at least another week away from seeing Baker in a game.

Rapid Reaction: Vikings 30, Saints 27

October, 7, 2008
10/07/08
12:14
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

NEW ORLEANS -- The Saints wasted one of the greatest performances in "Monday Night Football" history.

New Orleans managed to lose 30-27 on a night when Reggie Bush returned two punts for touchdowns to give the Saints a fourth-quarter lead. A late pass-interference call on safety Kevin Kaesviharn set up a 30-yard field goal by Minnesota's Ryan Longwelll with 13 seconds left.

The Kaesviharn penalty and a touchdown pass from Gus Frerotte to Bernard Berrian came after Bush had put the Saints up 27-20. Blame a defense that fell apart late, an offense that couldn't hold onto the ball early, a couple of controversial calls by the officials and kicker Martin Gramatica, who had a field goal blocked and returned for a touchdown and missed another attempt late in the game.

That all helped the Saints squander a franchise-record 354 yards in punt and kickoff return yardage. This was New Orleans' chance to right its season. Instead, the Saints are 2-3 heading into Sunday's home game -- their last in the Superdome for more than a month -- with Oakland. After what happened against the Vikings, the Saints can't even take a game with the Raiders for granted.

Evening roundup

October, 3, 2008
10/03/08
6:30
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

BUCCANEERS

Receiver Joey Galloway and fullback B.J. Askew have been declared out with injuries for Sunday's game.

General manager Bruce Allen said defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin never asked to go to the Raiders.

PANTHERS/FALCONS

Defensive end Julius Peppers was fined $10,000 for a hit on Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan.

SAINTS

With Sedrick Ellis out two to four weeks, the Saints will have to rely on the trio of Kendrick Clancy, Antwan Lake and Brian Young at defensive tackle. End Charles Grant also can slide inside on passing downs.

Safety Kevin Kaesviharn drew a $25,000 fine for a helmet-to-helmet hit on San Francisco's Josh Morgan.

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