Saints trying to put 1-3 start behind them

Updated: October 1, 2003, 7:35 PM ET

NEW ORLEANS -- These days there seem to be almost as many New Orleans Saints players watching practice as there are taking part in it.

On Wednesday the Saints listed nine players as out for the Carolina Panthers game on Sunday -- seven of them on defense. Another is return specialist Michael Lewis.

On top of that, the Saints most dependable receiver, Joe Horn, did not practice Wednesday and was listed as questionable for Sunday's game. He has been bothered by a sore left knee since the season opener, but an MRI on Tuesday showed no ligament damage.

With so many players injured, just putting together a game plan is a real challenge, coach Jim Haslett said.

"It's an ongoing battle," Haslett said. "We don't really know exactly who is going to play Sunday. You have to taper it down for whoever is out there playing, so they can get a good grasp on the scheme."

Two injured players were back on the practice field Wednesday. Cornerback Dale Carter and defensive tackle Johnathan Sullivan won't play this Sunday, Haslett said, but might be ready for the following week.

Carter, who had surgery on the bone around his eye, has to wear a shield at practice and in games now.

"He can't have a direct blow again to that injured area," Haslett said.

Dealing with so many injuries is a new experience for him, Haslett said.

"In 2000, we had a lot of players injured down the stretch when we played the Rams in the playoffs," Haslett said. But we never had it this early in the season and we never had this many."

New Orleans (1-3) needs to put the disappointment of the early losses, especially the 55-21 whipping the Indianapolis Colts gave them in the last game, behind them.

"We're treating it like it is the start of the season," said defensive end Willie Whitehead. "We have to forget about last week. We have to get back to playing the way we're supposed to and not worry about anything else."

The losses hurt, but the team has not panicked, quarterback Aaron Brooks said.

"That's one thing we can look forward to," Brooks said. "It's not the end of the world, not the end of our lives. We do have another opportunity to go out there again. Even though you don't come out as well as you'd like to, at this point, we do have time to make up for it."

The first of the autumn weather to hit New Orleans made Wednesday's practice more comfortable. Haslett said it was a good one, with good tempo. He wants his players to take that into the next game.

"We need to get back to having fun," Haslett said. "We can't worry about every little thing that happens."

Haslett urged the team to remember what the game was like when they were eight years old, how much fun they had then and play that way again.

"To me it still comes down to doing the right things, taking care of the ball, still enjoying what you do and having some fun," Haslett said. "Being 1-3 is not much fun, but you have to try to enjoy it."

This story is from's automated news wire. Wire index