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Saints Venture Into Black Hole for Saturday Showdown

    <span>Fresh off a productive week of work in Houston, which consisted of two days of practices with the Texans and culminated with a 38-14 win at Reliant Stadium on Saturday evening, the Saints will pack their bags once again and head out west to face the Oakland Raiders at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. Saturday's matchup, a rare afternoon preseason game will be only the third time the Saints and Raiders have faced off in an exhibition. It will be the first time New Orleans has traveled to the black hole since they were forced to move their base of operations to Northern California for a week prior to their 2005 pre-season finale due to Hurricane Katrina.  

The Saints made strides on offense, defense and special teams on Saturday night against the Texans continuing the high energy level from the spirited practice sessions during the week. New Orleans gashed the Texans for a turnover-free 420 yards of total offense, recovered a fumble and made an interception on defense and scored a touchdown on a punt return as they produced their highest point total in a preseason contest since the club's second season in 1968.

QB Drew Brees was almost flawless as he saw almost an entire half of work, completing 9-of-14 passes for 87 yards, a touchdown throw to RB Pierre Thomas and a 105.4 quarterback rating.

RB Mike Bell drew the start and took advantage of the opportunity for extended playing time in the first half, carrying 10 times for 100 yards and a 46-yard second quarter scoring burst. The first half offensive explosion was supported by a stellar effort by thestarting offensive line, which kept Brees' jersey clean and helped spark the running game.

Defensively, the Saints first unit held their own against the run, limiting the Texans to 35 yards rushing and 3.5 yards per carry. CB Jabari Greer had a 23-yard interception return late in the second quarter that stopped a potential Texans scoring drive and helped set up a field goal that gave the Saints a 17-7 lead at halftime. CB Tracy Porter had a team-leading seven tackles in the first half.

The Saints enjoyed contributions from several other players in the second half who improved their training camp case for regular season roster spots. Midway through the third quarter, WR Rod Harper broke open the game and gave the Saints a 24-14 lead when he returned a punt 79 yards for a touchdown. Rookie runners Herb Donaldson and Garrett Hartley/P,-d-,J,-d-, Hill.aspx">P.J. Hill added a fourth quarter rushing touchdown apiece. Defensively, LB Anthony Waters stated his case for a roster spot when he sacked Texans QB Dan Orlovsky 16 yards back from where the play started on the Saints two, forced him to fumble and recovered the ball on the same play on a drive deep in Saints territory.

When the Saints head west, they will be facing an Oakland team that experienced marked improvement following a coaching change last season. The Raiders bring a 1-1 record to Saturday's contest following a 21-20 loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Saturday.

Former LSU product and signal caller Jamarcus Russell, the number one choice in the 2007 draft, continues his rapid development and will present a challenge for the Saints defense along with the stable of runners that Oakland's top-notch running game brings to the table.

SITE: Oakland Coliseum

WORTH NOTING: Saturday's game will be the first time the two teams have met in the pre-season since 2005, when the club spent the entire week in the Bay area prior to the game after evacuating from Hurricane Katrina. The Saints have a 1-2 preseason record against Raiders...New Orleans has a 5-5-1 mark against Oakland in the regular season...The two clubs met in the Louisiana Superdome on Oct. 12, 2008 and the Saints defeated the Raiders 34-3...Saturday's game will be regionally televised on CST with Tim Brando handling play-by-play, Solomon Wilcots serving as color analyst and Mike Nabors patrolling the sidelines...the game will also be carried on FOX 8 in the New Orleans market and can see seen nationally on the NFL Network…The contest can be heard regionally on the New Orleans Saints Radio Network (870 AM and 105.3 FM serve as the flagship stations locally in the New Orleans area) with Jim Henderson handling play-by-play duties, Hokie Gajan serving as color analyst and Kristian Garic patrolling the sidelines...A Spanish language radio broadcast to the New Orleans area can also be heard on WFNO-830 AM with Marco Garcia handling play-by-play and Emilio Peralta serving as the analyst.

SAINTS-RAIDERS CONNECTIONS: Head coach Sean Payton is a native of San Mateo, Calif...Wide receivers coach Curtis Johnson served in the same position at the University of California in 1995. Payton, running backs coach Bret Ingalls, Johnson and Raiders head coach Tom Cable served on the San Diego State staff in 1989. Ingalls and Cable later served on the same staff at the Idaho and he later served as the Raiders head coach's offensive coordinator with the Vandals from 2000-02, also working with Oakland quality control, offense coach Rich Scangarello. Payton and Raiders linebackers coach Mike Haluchak served on the same staff with the New York Giants in 1999. Secondary coach Dennis Allen, defensive line coach Bill Johnson, quarterbacks coach Joe Lombardi and Cable served on the Atlanta staff from 2004-06...LB Scott Fujita played at California from 1998-2001. Fujita was originally a walk-on safety for the Golden Bears before finishing his career on scholarship after transitioning to LB. Fujita and Raiders CB Nnamdi Asomugha were college teammates. Fujita, LB Scott Shanle and Raiders DE Greg Ellis were teammates in Dallas...Offensive line coach/running game Aaron Kromer served on the Raiders staff from 2001-04, serving as assistant offensive line coach in 2001, before being promoted to head line coach in 2002. Kromer and Raiders quarterbacks coach Paul Hackett served on the Tampa Bay staff from 2005-07. As offensive coordinator with the New York Jets from 2002-04, Hackett tutored C Jonathan Goodwin. DT Lynell Hamilton/Rod Coleman.aspx">Rod Coleman was a fifth round draft choice of Oakland in 1999 and played for them from 1999-2003...Oakland defensive backs coach/assistant squad development Willie Brown starred at Grambling from 1959-62 and is a member of the Louisiana Sports and Grambling Athletic Hall of Fames...Oakland tight ends coach Adam Henry signed with New Orleans out of McNeese State as an undrafted free agent in 1994 and went to training camp with the club in 1995 and 1996, spending his first sea-son on their practice squad...Raiders QB Jamarcus Russell prepped at Lillie B. Williamson (Mobile, Ala.) HS and starred at LSU from 2004-06. WR Lynell Hamilton/Skyler Green.aspx">Skyler Green and Russell were college teammates from 2004-05...S Darren Sharper, Raiders DB Jason Horton, DT Terdell Sands and WR Javon Walker were teammates in Green Bay. Walker prepped at St. Thomas More (Lafayette) HS. Oakland defensive backs coach Lionel Washington, who prepped at Lutcher HS and starred at Tulane, tutored Sharper in Green Bay...Oakland defensive line coach Dwaine Board played for the Saints in 1988...DE Will Smith and Oakland DE Jay Richardson were teammates at Ohio State, while Richardson later teamed with CB Malcolm Jenkins on the Buckeyes defense. TE Buck Ortega, TE Jeremy Shockey, LB Jonathan Vilma and Raiders DT William Joseph were teammates at the University of Miami (Fla.). Shockey and Joseph were teammates with the New York Giants from 2003-07...Raiders LB Jon Alston prepped at Loyola Prep (Shreveport)...Raiders CB Darrick Brown prepped at Kentwood (Tangipihoa) HS and played at McNeese State...S Pierson Prioleau, DE Paul Spicer and Oakland T Khalif Barnes were teammates in Jacksonville. Prioleau and Oakland S Rashad Baker were teammates in Buffalo in 2004. CB Randall Gay, FB Pierre Thomas/Heath Evans.aspx">Heath Evans and Baker were teammates in New England...Raiders DB Darrick Brown is a Tangipihoa native who played at McNeese State with Oakland FB Luke Lawton, who prepped at St. Thomas More (New Iberia) HS. Goodwin, Vilma, Lawton and Raiders DB Justin Miller were teammates with the New York Jets...LB Robert Meachem/Jo-Lonn Dunbar.aspx">Jo-Lonn Dunbar, Oakland LB Ricky Brown and T James Marten were teammates at Boston College...Prioleau and Oakland DT Ryan Boschetti were teammates in Washington, where they played for defensive coordinator Gregg Williams...Oakland G Cooper Carslisle prepped at McComb (Miss.) HS...Raiders S Hiram Eugene prepped at Jeanerette HS and starred along with Archibald native and Raiders WR Jonathan Holland at Louisiana Tech...WR Lance Moore and Oakland QB Bruce Gradkowski were teammates at the Toledo. G/T Anthony Davis, Gradkowski, Raiders QB Jeff Garcia, T Cornell Green and C John Wade were teammates in Tampa Bay from, where Green and Wade were tutored by Kromer. TE Darnell Dinkins and Gradkowski were teammates in Cleveland in 2008. LS Jason Kyle and Garcia were teammates in San Francisco in 2000...Asst. head coach/linebackers Joe Vitt tutored Raiders CB Chris Johnson when he served as interim head coach in St. Louis in 2005. Vitt and Oakland passing game coordinator Ted Tollner served on the same staff with the Los Angeles Rams from 1992-93...DE Mark Brunell and Oakland wide receivers coach Sanjay Lal were teammates at the University of Washington. Brunell, Spicer, Wade and Oakland player personnel Zack Crockett were teammates in Jacksonville...Raiders asst. special teams coach Aaron Pelch served as an assistant at Millsaps (Jackson, Miss.) College from 2006-08...S Usama Young and Oakland WR Shawn Bayes were teammates at Kent State...DT Earl Heyman and Raiders RB Michael Bush were teammates at Louisville...S Chris Reis and Oakland TE John Paul Foschi were teammates at Georgia Tech...TE Darnell Dinkins and Raiders QB Charlie Frye were teammates in Cleveland from 2006-07...Oakland DT Tommy Kelly prepped at Provine (Jackson, Miss.) HS and played at Mississippi State...RB Lynell Hamilton and Raiders WR Chaz Chilens were teammates at San Diego St...LB Jonathan Casillas and Oakland DE Matt Schaughnessey were teammates at Wisconsin...LB Troy Evans and Raiders LB Morlon Greenwood were teammates in Houston from 2005- 06...Greenwood and Evans were teammates in Miami in 2005.

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