KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
SURFACE: Sportexe Momentum
TV: FOX, Chris Myers, Brian Baldinger
SERIES: 25th meeting. Panthers lead the series, 13-11. They have won five straight on the road against the Saints. Carolina swept the season series against the NFC South champs last year, giving them seven wins in their last nine meetings overall.
KEYS TO THE GAME: The Saints will load up to stop RBs DeShaun Foster and DeAngelo Williams and take their chances with QB David Carr, who was terrible in his debut for the Panthers. The good news for Carr is he should have time to look downfield -- the Saints are the only team in the league without a sack this season and CB Jason Craft will replace injured starter Jason David. ... The Saints lost RB Deuce McAllister for the season, but Reggie Bush and Aaron Stecker must be given the chance to get the running game going and provide help for struggling QB Drew Brees. That task will be considerably easier with Panthers MLB Dan Morgan expected to miss his second straight game -- the drop-off to backup James Anderson is considerable.
KEY INJURIES: Panthers: Morgan (Achilles) and QB Jake Delhomme (elbow) won't play; Goings appears out as well. Saints: David (fractured left forearm) is out 4-6 weeks; SLB Scott Fujita (sprained ankle) and DT Kendrick Clancy (turf toe) could be game-time decisions.
--QB Jake Delhomme did not practice on Thursday and looks like a no go this week.
--QB David Carr is out to prove to Carolina fans that he can do better than last week. Carr, who is expected to start, struggled in his first game against Tampa Bay.
--LB Dan Morgan did not practice on Thursday and looks like a scratch this week.
--LB James Anderson is likely to start his second straight game in place of Dan Morgan.
--WR Steve Smith has five touchdowns in his last four games against the Saints, but has been in a slump in the last two weeks.
--LB Adam Seward could be held out of this week's game with a calf injury.
--KR DeAngelo Williams could be counted on to return kickoffs this week with Nick Goings recovering from a concussion.
--RB Reggie Bush will replace the injured Deuce McAllister in the starting lineup for Sunday's game with the Carolina Panthers.
--RCB Jason David had a plate inserted into his fractured left forearm last week and will likely be out for 4-to-6 weeks.
--CB Jason Craft, the Saints' nickel back, will probably start in David's spot against the Panthers. Craft has nine starts in 49 games with the Saints.
--SLB Scott Fujita, who sprained his right ankle two weeks ago against the Tennessee Titans, did not practice again Thursday. His status for Sunday's game is unknown.
--K Olindo Mare strained the groin in his kicking leg Wednesday and was held out Thursday as a precaution. Saints coach Sean Payton said Mare could have worked if they needed him to.
--P Steve Weatherford will handle kickoffs and possibly extra points and field goals if Mare is not able to go against the Panthers.
--WR David Patten, the Saints' third receiver, was able to work in a portion of Thursday's practice despite a strained right calf.
--DT Kendrick Clancy, who missed the Saints' last game with the Titans because of a turf toe, took part in a portion of Thursday's workout.
--S Jay Bellamy, who is still nursing a sprained ankle, was limited in practice on Thursday.
INSIDE THE CAMPS:
It looks as though the Carolina Panthers will be without starting quarterback Jake Delhomme this week against New Orleans.
Delhomme, who did not play last week against Tampa Bay, didn't practice again Thursday and has not thrown a football since Carolina's Sept. 23 win over the Atlanta Falcons.
Coach John Fox would not rule out Delhomme, but it seems unlikely he will go this week. The Panthers may be waiting until after the bye week before allowing Delhomme to throw.
After New Orleans, the Panthers travel to face Arizona and then have a week off to prepare for their next home game against Indianapolis.
David Carr, who struggled in his first start with Carolina this past Sunday against Tampa Bay, is expected to get the start. His goal this week is get wide receiver Steve Smith more involved in the offense.
Smith has just six catches for 42 yards in the past two games.
Also, linebacker Dan Morgan failed to practice for a second straight day Thursday. He hinted earlier in the week that he won't be ready to play this week.
Linebacker Adam Seward (calf) and Nick Goings (concussion) were also held out of practice Thursday.
Running back DeShaun Foster returned to practice on Thursday after missing the practice the day before because of a team decision.
While Saints running back Reggie Bush will get a lot of attention Sunday in his first game as the team's featured back, cornerback Jason Craft has as big a task -- if not bigger.
Bush will replace the injured Deuce McAllister as the go-to back as the Saints hope to get their offense going and dig out from an 0-3 start. At the same time, Craft will be in the spotlight as he tries to stop Carolina Panthers All-Pro wide receiver Steve Smith.
Craft will likely start in pace of Jason David, who fractured his left forearm in the Saints' last game and will be out 4-to-6 weeks. Craft's assignment: try to slow down Smith, who has abused the Saints in recent years.
In his last five games against the Saints, the playmaking Smith has 40 receptions for 495 yards and five touchdowns. He also has a 20-yard touchdown on a reverse. That's not good news for a Saints' defense that has given up 12 passes of 24 yards or more -- with six touchdowns -- in the first three games.
And Craft, a nine-year veteran who usually serves as the fifth defensive back in the Saints nickel package, plans to be ready for the challenge.
"I'll be out there on the right corner," Craft said when asked what his role will be Sunday. "I'm sure Steve Smith is going to be out there because he's usually lined up at the 'X'. I'm used to it. I've just got to prepare myself and get ready."
Over the years, Craft has come to know what Smith means to the Panthers' offense. And he has seen it up close and personal the last two years after Smith missed both games between the NFC South rivals because of an injury in 2004 -- Craft's first season in New Orleans.
He knows he'll have to be at his best considering Smith has been frustrated the last two weeks with a total of six receptions for 42 yards. In the first two games this season, he had 15 catches for 271 yards and four touchdowns.
"If they can get him started, they usually do well on offense," said Craft, who has an interception, sack and forced fumble against the Panthers. "Steve Smith is a spark for them, but we just have to take care of our business.
"As a defender, you have to try and prevent him from getting to the ball and try to make plays yourself," he said.