The New Orleans Saints (0-1) will seek their first win of the season, opening up their NFC South slate when they travel to Charlotte to face the Carolina Panthers on Sunday at Bank of America Stadium. Kickoff for the contest is at 12:00 p.m. (CDT).
FOX will telecast the contest, while Sports USA provides national radio coverage. Sunday marks the 35th meeting between the Saints and the Panthers with the series tied 17-17.
Although New Orleans has won the last four meetings to tie the series, Carolina is on the verge of a breakthrough under the leadership of second year QB Cam Newton, the first pick in the 2011 NFL Draft and 2010 Heisman Trophy winner. The Saints will be the second straight NFC South opponent for the Panthers, who dropped their season opener on Sunday to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 16-10, at Raymond James Stadium.
Aaron Kromer, the Saints' Offensive Line Coach/ Running Game Coordinator, tasked with leading the team for the first six games of the regular season, provides a steady hand and plethora of experience in directing the Black-And-Gold in this important division matchup. The Saints are coming off a dramatic 40-32 loss to the Washington Redskins in their 2012 season opener last Sunday at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. After falling behind 33-17 early in the fourth quarter, New Orleans rebounded and was only one touchdown and a two-point conversion from sending the game to overtime in a high scoring contest.
QB Drew Brees finished the day completing 24-of-52 passes for 339 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions. The signal-caller connected with TE Jimmy Graham, WR Lance Moore and RB Darren Sproles on scoring strikes, while Sproles also rushed for a key two-point conversion in the fourth quarter.
Moore tied for the team lead in receiving and was the game's leader in receiving yardage with six receptions for 120 yards, including a fourth quarter 33-yard scoring grab. Defensively, the opener marked the Saints debut for four new starters in DT Brodrick Bunkley, LBs David Hawthorne and Curtis Lofton and rookie CB Corey White.
While the new-look defense under coordinator Steve Spagnuolo continues to make corrections, one area where an offseason objective was accomplished was by holding the Redskins running game to an average of only 3.5 yards per carry.
Special teams was a strength on Sunday, as they helped close a 20-7 deficit near the end of the first half when DE Martez Wilson blocked a punt by Redskins P Sav Rocca and WR and special teams captain Courtney Roby picked it up and returned it five yards for a touchdown. Sproles averaged 34.3 yards per kickoff return, while recording 152 all-purpose yards.