The League

David Larimer
Two-time defending Gameday pick-em champion

David Larimer

An assistant NFL editor at the The Washington Post

Tampa Bay at New Orleans, Week One

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Tampa Bay at New Orleans, Week One

Sunday, 1 p.m.

Jeff Garcia sure is an ornery old cuss. He lobbied for a contract extension over the summer, never mind that's not something NFL teams throw around to 38-year-old quarterbacks. He reiterated that he's not ready to shuffle off this week, telling reporters, "I'm playing the last year of a contract year, and I'm going to make the most of it." This came weeks after his John Wayne response to rumors that Brett Favre might be coming to take his job: "I'm the starter here. I'm going to choke it to death until somebody pulls my grip off of it."

No one puts Grampa in a corner!

Of course, Garcia was one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the league last season, helping lead the Buccaneers to the NFC South title and earning a Pro Bowl berth. Relative youngsters made their marks, notably leading rusher Earnest Graham, leading tackler Barrett Ruud and defensive end Gaines Adams, who led all NFL rookies with six sacks. But the heart of the team is aging. Leading receiver Joey Galloway is 37, and, like Garcia, battled injury in training camp. Linebacker Derrick Brooks is entering his 14th season; cornerback Ronde Barber, his 12th.

The Saints, meanwhile, who spent recent days training in Indianapolis while New Orleans was evacuated by Hurricane Gustav, might be less worried about wearing down than starting slowly. Their high-powered offense stalled early last season, the defense was powerless to help, and by Week 4 New Orleans was 0-4, outscored 119-51 and all but out of the playoff picture. They addressed glaring needs on the defense by trading for playmaking linebacker Jonathan Vilma and drafting promising defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis in the first round. Still, it's the offense, with quarterback Drew Brees (consecutive 4,000-yard seasons), wide receiver Marques Colston (168 career receptions, most by any NFL player in his first two seasons) and newly acquired tight end Jeremy Shockey that must keep the team marching.

By David Larimer  |  September 5, 2008; 11:30 AM ET  | Category:  Week 1 Previews Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: This is the Real Eli | Next: Houston at Pittsburgh, Week One

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