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Saints Opening Day Kickoff Notes

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    <span style="">                 <span style="text-decoration: underline;">HOMEFIELD ADVANTAGE </span>                 

Posting a 6-2 home record in 2008 (5-2 at the Superdome, 1-0 in a home game played at London's Wembley Stadium), the Saints took full advantage of their surroundings in front of their fans. New Orleans' .750 home winning percentage was tied for the fifth-best mark in the NFL and fourth best in the NFC, while their totals of 264 points and an average of 427.3 yards from scrimmage per game in these home contests were ranked first in the NFL. The Saints finished the season with six home victories for only the fourth time in club history and for the first time since 1992. 2008 was their first winning home mark since 2003 and the 11th in franchise history.

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
The Saints have ten players on their roster who have moved up to active rosters in the NFL after beginning their playing careers on practice squads. Of these ten, seven are products of the Saints practice squad. The most notable of these is WR Lance Moore. After spending most of 2005 and 2006 on the practice squad, Moore's role evolved into that of the team's leading receiver in 2008 with 79 receptions for 928 yards and ten touchdowns to rank among league leaders. LB Robert Meachem/Jo-Lonn Dunbar.aspx">Jo-Lonn Dunbar and S Chris Reis began their careers with the club on the practice squad before being elevated and becoming integral parts of the special team units, where they each recorded 16 tackles each in 2008 to tie for second on the club.

BUCKING THE ODDS
Players whose names are not called in the NFL Draft typically face challenging odds in showing that they are worthy of playing in the league. However, the Saints feature 17 players on their 53-man roster who have bucked the conventional odds and have become important contributors after failing to have their names called on draft day. The most notable two on the roster are Moore and RB Pierre Thomas, the club's receiving and rushing leaders in 2008. The Cleveland Browns originally signed Moore as an undrafted free agent in 2005 before he joined the Saints practice squad that September.

Signed after the 2007 draft, Thomas was the club's leading rusher this season with 129 carries for 625 yards with a team-leading nine TDs and also led the club with 12 scores overall, the fourth-highest single season total in club history. Thomas' touchdown and rushing touchdown totals were both tied for the ninth highest in NFL history by an undrafted player.

The Saints will open 2009 with one undrafted rookie from the class of 2009 on their 53-man active roster in LB Jonathan Casillas.

FIRST DOWNS
New Orleans was again among leaders in 2008, ranking first in the NFC and tying for second in the NFL with a club record 354 first downs, including a league-high 232 passing. 2008 was the third straight year that the Saints set a club record for first downs.

NFL FIRST DOWN LEADERS IN 2008

Rank   
Team   
No.  
Rush  
Pass  
Penalty
1. NE
356 145 186 25
2t. NO 354 103 232 19
2t. DEN 354 103 223 28
4. HOU 340 106 210 24
5. NYG 338 130 176 32

DOMINATING OFFENSE
Since 2006, the Saints have scored an average of 26.1 points per game, a total of 1,255 points in 48 regular season contests, ranking third in the NFL. In 2008, the Saints ranked first in the NFL in points scored (463) and in points per game (28.9) as they set the club record for points in a season.

NFL POINTS PER GAME LEADERS SINCE 2006

Rank  
Team  
Points  
Points/Game  
1. NE 1,384 28.8
2. SD 1,343 28.0
3. NO 1,255
26.1
4. IND 1,254 26.1
5. DAL 1,242 25.9

NFL POINTS PER GAME LEADERS IN 2008

Rank   
Team   
Points  
Points/Game   
1.
NO 463 28.9
2. SD 439 27.4
3t. NYG 427 26.7
3t. ARI 427 26.7
5. GB 419 26.2

394.6 PER GAME AVERAGE UNDER PAYTON'S GUIDANCE
Since Sean Payton was named coach in 2006, the Saints have been the NFL's top ranked offense by rank of total yards from scrimmage, averaging 387.8 yards per game in the regular season. In 2008, the Saints finished ranked first in the league for the second time in three years, averaging 410.7 yards per game with a club record 6,571 total net yards.

KEEPING DRIVES GOING
In 2008, the Saints finished ranked first in the NFC and second in the NFL with a 48.5 percentage (97-of-200) on third down conversions, breaking the team record (46.3) which was originally set in 2002 and that they had tied last season. QB Drew Brees ended the year ranked first in the NFL in third down passer rating (117.8), completing 96 of 144 throws (66.7%) for 1,399 yards with 11 touchdown passes and two interceptions.

NFL THIRD DOWN CONVERSION PERCENTAGE LEADERS IN 2008

Rank   
Team  
Made  
Att.  
Pct.   
1.  
IND  101 201  50.2
2. NO  97 200  48.5
3. DEN  95 200  47.5
4.
SD  89 194  45.9
5.
GB  99  222  44.2

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