Saints play it safe with Gustav

The New Orleans Saints are practicing this week in Indianapolis in preparation of their season opener. Saints GM Mickey Loomis talked about the decision earlier this week. Plus, link to some of's premium content.

The last week has been like a recurring nightmare for the Saints, especially for the players that were with the team back in 2005.

For the second time in three years, the Saints had to abandon their homes and their Metairie training facility in advance of a hurricane. In August 2005, the Saints were forced to leave when Hurricane Katrina took aim at the Gulf Coast, thinking they were going to be gone for a couple of days.

Of course, the Saints wound up spending that entire season in San Antonio and playing their "home" games in the Alamodome; Baton Rouge, La.; and even East Rutherford, N.J., when Katrina flooded New Orleans and inflicted heavy damage on the Superdome.

But after almost three years without a tropical system even threatening the area, the Saints were reminded of Katrina again when Hurricane Gustav came barreling through the Gulf of Mexico and took dead aim on the Louisiana coast.

So the Saints left on Saturday for Indianapolis, where they began their game-week preparations for Sunday's regular-season opener with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

When Gustav thrashed Louisiana on Monday, it spared the city with a glancing blow from his 115 mph winds, skirting the state's coastline and heading west before turning northward -- away from New Orleans.

Saints general manager Mickey Loomis said the team and coaching staff handled the adversity quite well. Players who had families in the city were allowed to get them out of harm's way before getting to Indianapolis in time for a 9 p.m. team meeting on Sunday.

"We have a large group of our people (players and coaching staff) who weren't with us in 2005 and we have some players and staff who were with us in 2005," Loomis said, "and I think it has probably been a little tougher on them emotionally with that 'here we go again deal.' But I've been real proud of the way our staff has handled this. It has been real positive."

While 95 percent of the city evacuated, there was no widespread flooding from levee breaches this time. As a result, the Saints want to return on Friday and play the Bucs as scheduled Sunday.

"Our message is this, we want to be one of the first ones back to New Orleans, we want to play our game in New Orleans, we want to raise the spirits of our community," Loomis said Monday after getting a good initial report from the city and Superdome officials.

Each week's Matthew Postins will analyze the top five issues facing the New Orleans Saints that week. In this opening edition, Postins analyzes how the Saints might use Deuce McAllister, why the Saints kept seven cornerbacks and if Martin Gramatica is the answer at placekicker. Click right here.

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