Bradley Handwerger / WWLTV.com Sports Reporter
NEW ORLEANS, La. When Jabari Greer turned on film this week of the Indianapolis Colts offense, hebreathed a sigh of relief.
His job now is a bit easier than two years ago, the last time Greer and the Saints prepared for the Colts,who they play tonight in a nationally televised affair in the Superdome.
Peyton Manning was around then, giving Greer and the Saints defense headaches in preparing for anoffense that only Manning can run.
Now Manning is out, stopped only by offseason neck surgery, and in his place is Curtis Painter.
In other words, the focus for the Saints has shifted.
'We get to focus a lot more on our particular assignments instead of focusing on a single aspect of thegame,' Greer said. 'Peyton brought so much to prepare for that without him, now you can focus on yourmatchups. Now you can focus on certain stems and releases by the receiver. It just changes your outlookas far as preparation.'
The Colts have been in flux this season, starting 0-6 their worst start in more than a decade.
Kerry Collins began the year as Indianapolis' starter, but went down with a concussion, giving way toPainter.
He has been an improvement over Collins, but not enough. Even without the 27 point debacle to open theseason, Indianapolis is still losing by an average of 6.4 points per game.
A season ago, the Colts went 10-6 and averaged 380.8 yards per game, including 288.1 through the air.
A year later, the offense is averaging 284.7 points per game, or three fewer than it passed for a year ago.
Still, the Saints were well-prepared in that Super Bowl, holding the Colts to 17 points. Linebacker ScottShanle, who was on the Saints' Super Bowl XLIV team and remains a fixture on this incarnation, isn'tbuying that too much is different with the Colts offense these days.
'They're going to do what they do,' Shanle said. 'Those guys have been in that scheme for a long time.I think the biggest change will be the freedom that Manning has as far as getting in and out of a lot of
different plays, which makes it challenging defensively.'
Painter isn't working with a talented-less cupboard. Receivers Reggie Wayne and Pierre Garcon and tightend Dallas Clark remain viable threats.
Garcon, especially, is having a standout season, catching 27 passes for 472 yards that's a potent 17.5yard-per-catch average. He has four touchdown catches, including an 87-yarder that was a career long.
Wayne, meanwhile, spoke up in Painter's behalf prior to the season, putting his hat in the young
That has helped Painter make the transition from backup to starter easier, he said.
'I think that really just getting in there and getting comfortable ... that's what in turn helps get the mostconfidence,' Painter said. 'Working in practice with the guys, throwing routes and just getting thatfamiliarity with them just adds to it. But just to have the guys around you support you really means a lot.'
One of the keys will be turnovers the Saints are minus-seven on the season, the Colts minus-two.
Indianapolis has a penchant to fumble the football, losing a league-high seven fumbles.
That could play into New Orleans' favor as long as it doesn't press the matter, Shanle said.
'I just think it's one of those things where the more you try to talk about it and wonder why, the less it'sgoing to happen,' Shanle said. 'It's just like one of those things where once it starts to happen, it seems tohappen more. It almost gets to a point where you can press too much.'
In the end, linebackers coach Joe Vitt isn't buying into the Colts being a team that's truly 0-6.
'Right now they've got a first-ballot Hall of Fame quarterback who is not playing so they're in a little
bit of a transition mode right now,' Vitt said. 'And they're getting better. They're playing hard. They're
playing with great enthusiasm, with great body language. You don't hear any chirping coming out of thatorganization.'
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