Banged up Saints travel to Carolina for NFC South battle

By ROY LANG III, Journal Sports

Today’s game

Saints (1-1) at Panthers (0-2)

Sunday, noon (Fox)

Two key components to the New Orleans Saints offense are far from 100 percent, but unlike last week’s game against Tampa Bay, the Black and Gold could have the services of both when they face Carolina today.

Jameis Winston (back) and Alvin Kamara (rib) were listed as questionable on the team’s final injury report prior to a noon kickoff at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C. 

Winston has tossed three touchdowns and three interceptions, but all three picks came against Tampa Bay in Week 2. He shifted the focus away from his ailing back.

“We have to get better on third downs and that’s on me,” he told the Saints’ website. “We had a great chance in the redzone to end up with seven and not three, and I missed Chris (Olave). We just got to continue to get better. The defense played a great game. I have to get better on third downs and protect the football.”

Kamara played in the opener, but had just 46 total yards (39 rushing) against the Falcons before missing Week 2.

“The more we get a feel of having all our pieces – we had a big piece last week that wasn’t with us, with Alvin, so much of our offense revolves around him and his unique skill set as well – the more games we get together, the more practices we all get together, it will be beneficial for all of us,” Winston said.

The Saints (1-1) have won four of the past five matchups against Carolina (0-2), but face first-year Panthers quarterback Baker Mayfield, who enters the NFC South after four seasons in Cleveland. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft is 30-of-56 passing with two touchdowns and one interception in two games. He also added a rushing score in Week 1. 

“He’s got moxie,” Saints co-defensive coordinator/defensive line coach Ryan Nielsen told the Saints’ website. “The guy loves to play football. He’s very fiery, he’s a good leader. It’s going to be a good test, this is our first time against him. He can make some plays with his arm, but also he can get out, he escapes in the pocket. He’s had a couple of nice runs this season already. So it’ll be a good challenge.”

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