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John DeShazier: Saints players know Panthers want to run the football

Davison: 'We know this team, we know what they like to do'

The New Orleans Saints (0-2) have no expectation of offensive deception for Sunday's NFC South Division game against Carolina (2-0) at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C.

The Panthers have a formula that has been successful for them over the years, it largely entails running the football, and they haven't strayed from it the first two games of this season.

Carolina has 66 rush attempts this season and has dropped back to pass 63 times (quarterback Cam Newton has 57 pass attempts and has been sacked six times).

And even though the Panthers haven't been especially effective on the ground – 193 yards, 2.9 yards per carry – it doesn't diminish the fact that they continually are challenging via the run, and will do so again Sunday against a Saints defense that has allowed 248 rushing yards, and 4.1 yards per carry, in the first two games.

"It's a challenge that I look forward to every year, twice a year," Saints defensive tackle Tyeler Davison said. "We know this team, we know what they like to do. It's up to us to do our job and stop it."

"These are the games you want," defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins added. "It's going to be man on man, beat the guy in front of you and whoever does that more times than not, is going to help their team more. It's a division opponent, you know what they're going to do, it's just a matter of going out and doing your job and beating the man in front of you."

To a man, the Saints admit that they consistently haven't done enough of that this season. Minnesota and New England combined to score 65 points in the first two games, with seven touchdowns.

"It starts up front with everybody doing their job," Davison said. "I think that's what it takes – everybody, play in and play out, doing the job. Not just 10 people, not just nine people, but 11 people play in, play out, doing what they're supposed to do, down to the last detail. That's what we've been working on. We've got the people to do it, it's just time to put it out there all together at once.

"In the NFL, the margin for error is real small. Even when we have those lapses, we have to remind ourselves that we're closer than it may seem."

Inching closer Sunday means neutralizing a running game that has had varying degrees of success the previous three seasons.

In 2014, the Panthers had 62 attempts for 380 rushing yards in the two games; in '15, 64 carries for 294 yards; and last year, 54 carries for 153 yards. Sunday, though, Carolina will be without tight end Greg Olsen, its most reliable receiver.

"I'm not going to anticipate them being more (run) heavy, just because they already like to do that anyway," Davison said. "They always have a plethora of weapons that they can turn to. No matter if he was in the game or not, we're going into the game thinking we've got to stop this run, first and foremost. That's not going to change regardless."

Said Rankins: "They're going to come out and try to establish their identity. With Cam Newton back there, (running back) Jonathan Stewart, those guys are going to come out and try to establish a new line of scrimmage, knock us off the ball, and then take their shots down the field. They're a big-play offense.

"They're going to run it, pound it and then take their vertical shots. We've just got to limit their amount of run yards and then contest on the back end when they try to take those vertical throws. And then just play ball."

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