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Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Five things to watch: Saints at Cowboys

By Pat Yasinskas

Five things to watch in Thursday's game between the Dallas Cowboys and New Orleans Saints.

1. Reggie Bush. The New Orleans running back might make his return from a broken leg and that could change the entire complexion of an offense that has come on strong in recent weeks. The Saints can put Bush in different spots or in motion and that allows them to free up other offensive weapons. If Bush plays, the Saints probably will ease him in with spot duty and still use Chris Ivory as their main runner.

2. Take advantage of matchups. As they almost always do, the Saints' receivers have a clear edge on Dallas' secondary. Top receiver Marques Colston is likely to draw Terence Newman and that should be a competitive matchup. But the real advantage comes deeper down the line. Devery Henderson, Robert Meachem and Lance Moore all rotate in. Dallas cornerback Mike Jenkins has been having a rough season and he's likely to be targeted often. Meachem is the deep threat here with three touchdown catches of more than 30 yards. The Saints should be able to wear down this secondary.

3. Student vs. pupil. New Orleans' Sean Payton was an assistant coach with the New York Giants when Dallas interim head coach Jason Garrett was a backup quarterback there. This is only Garrett's third game as a head coach. Payton is a veteran now and his team has had plenty of experience in dealing with the logistical issues that come with a short week. That could give the Saints a big edge.

4. Roman Harper versus Jason Witten. Harper is quietly putting together a nice season. He has one interception and five forced fumbles. He also is used as a blitzer at times. But Harper could get a big challenge from Witten. Although the Dallas tight end isn't putting up his usual big numbers this season, the Cowboys may look to get him more involved in the passing game.

5. Jon Kitna versus time. The Dallas quarterback is 38 and the short week could leave him a little tired. Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams will try to exploit that. Williams brings the blitz often, but he might bring it even more than usual against Dallas.