Notebook: McKenzie Working His Way Back

The Patriots are one of the top scoring team in the NFL. They get there by throwing the ball. Saints defensive back Mick McKenzie knows he has a new lease on his NFL career having rejoined the Saints earlier this week. Now he's part of a group charged with slowing down that Patriots passing machine.

McKenzie Getting Familiar
Newly-acquired cornerback Mike McKenzie said Wednesday it was too early to tell if he'll be able to help the Saints in Monday night's showdown with the New England Patriots.

McKenzie played for the Saints from 2004 to 2008, but was released during the off-season after finishing the last two seasons on injured reserve with knee injuries.

He was re-signed Monday to add depth to a team that's struggled with injuries at the position with Jabari Greer, Tracy Porter, Randall Gay and Leigh Torrence all missing playing time in the last three games.

McKenzie, who played three seasons under former defensive coordinator Gary Gibbs, said the biggest thing is learning the playbook of new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.

"It's night and day, it's a totally different scheme," McKenzie said. "I'm pretty familiar with the guys here, so it's just a matter of me getting familiar with the terminology."

Flipping Linemen
Saints coach Sean Payton said left tackles Zach Strief and Jermon Bushrod would continue to alternate at the position as they did for last week's game against the Tampa Bay Bucs.

Strief, a four-year veteran, was a surprise starter after Bushrod had started the eight games he was healthy for earlier in the season. Bushrod was filling in for Pro Bowl tackle Jammal Brown, who is out for the season after having sports hernia and hip surgeries.

Payton said the coaching staff just wanted to get Strief some playing time after performing well in recent practices.

"We really came out of the St. Louis game (on Nov. 15) wanting to get him some work, and we were able to do it in this week's game," Payton said. "We'll continue to look at both of those players as options as we move forward. Both of those guys are going to play."

On Pace To Break Patriots' Record, Barely
After 10 games, the Saints remain on pace -- barely -- to break to break the NFL record for scoring in a season with 369 points.

Coach Sean Payton's team is averaging 36.9 points a game and is on pace to score 590 points -- one more than the Patriots, this week's opponent, put up in going 16-0 in the regular season in 2007.

The Saints have had 18 players score a touchdown so far this season after tight end David Thomas joined the club with an 11-yard catch from Drew Brees in a 38-7 win at Tampa Bay. The Patriots had 21 different players score a touchdown in 2007.

"It just shows how many great players we have on this team -- and how unselfish they are," said Thomas, who joined the Saints in a trade with the Patriots on Sept. 5.

Getting Over The Hump
The Patriots have never lost to the Saints in New Orleans, winning once in Tulane Stadium and three times in the Superdome since it opened in 1975.

The Patriots won in 1972 (17-10) at Tulane, then beat the Saints in the Superdome in 1980 (38-27), 1986 (21-20) and 1998 (30-27).

New England has also played in three Super Bowls in the Superdome, falling to the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XX (46-10) and the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XXXI (35-21). They won it all against the St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI (20-17).

More Starts Than Willie
Right guard Jahri Evans made his 58th straight start last Sunday, which moved him past former All-Pro tackle William Roaf for most consecutive starts by a Saints' offensive lineman to start a career.

An unheralded fourth-round draft pick from Bloomsburg (Pa.) State in 2006, Evans moved in with the first-team offense in the first week of training camp that summer and has started every game since then.

While the Saints have been solid in protecting Drew Brees the last four seasons, Evans is one of the reasons the Saints rank fifth in the NFL in rushing this season with 154.3 yards per game.

Feeding The Hungry
With funds collected from players and coaches, several Saints and their families helped distribute turkeys and food baskets to 1,000 New Orleans-area families on Monday.

Among the players taking part in the Thanksgiving giveaway were running backs Reggie Bush, Pierre Thomas and Mike Bell, and wide receivers Robert Meachem and Lance Moore.

BY THE NUMBERS: 12-0 -- The Saints' record when they have no turnovers since Sean Payton became their coach in 2006. They're 2-0 this season after not giving it away against the New York Giants in Week 6 and the Tampa Bay Bucs last Sunday.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We're on our way to fixing things. We talk about no turnovers, we talk about no sacks ... eliminating negative plays and that kind of thing. You look at us historically, especially this year, when we take care of the football and can eliminate negative plays, we're very, very hard to beat." -- Saints QB Drew Brees, on eliminating turnovers in their 38-7 blowout of the Bucs.

SERIES HISTORY: 12th regular-season meeting. The Patriots lead, 8-3. They've won the last three matchups after the Saints prevailed in the previous three encounters. The Patriots will play in the Superdome for the first time since upsetting the heavily-favored St. Louis Rams, 20-17, in Super Bowl XXXVI on Feb. 3, 2002.


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