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News » Bengals, Dolphins to visit in preseason

Bengals, Dolphins to visit in preseason

Bengals, Dolphins to visit in preseason
The Saints will host the Cincinnati Bengals and Miami Dolphins in preseason games this summer, and will travel to Houston and Oakland to round out their exhibition schedule.

Times and dates have not been announced. The Cincinnati game will be played the weekend of Aug. 13-17 at the Superdome, followed by the game in Houston (Aug. 20-24), the game at Oakland (Aug. 27-31) and the home date with Miami on Sept. 3 or 4.

The Bengals have been down the past two years, largely because of quarterback Carson Palmer's injury issues. But if Palmer is healthy, Cincinnati could bring an explosive offense to New Orleans to open the preseason.

The Dolphins were one of the surprise teams in the NFL last year, winning the stacked AFC East with an 11-5 record. That won't matter come September, however. Typically most of the starters play sparingly in the final preseason games.

The regular-season schedule is expected to be announced during the first two weeks of April. The Saints' 16 opponents have been determined, though.

They will host Atlanta, Carolina, Tampa Bay, Dallas, Detroit, New England, the New York Jets and the New York Giants. They will travel to Atlanta, Carolina, Tampa Bay, Buffalo, Miami, Philadelphia, St. Louis and Washington.

OFFSEASON PROGRAM BEGINS: The Saints kicked off their offseason conditioning program Monday -- their version of the "first day of school" for the 2009 season.

The team did not release any information about which players did or did not report, but the entire roster was expected to check in Monday. Players are not required to remain in New Orleans throughout the offseason program as long as they stick to their workout routines.

The first actual on-field activity will be the rookie minicamp May 8-10. The Saints will have three weeks of organized team activities spread out during May and June, with the mandatory full-squad mini-camp scheduled for June 5-7.

Training camp will begin July 29 or 30 at the team's practice facility in Metairie.

BACKUP QB RETURNS: The Saints re-signed backup quarterback Joey Harrington to a one-year deal Monday, a move that has been expected for several weeks. Terms were not disclosed.

Harrington, 30, said he was "99 percent sure" he wanted to remain in New Orleans when he became a free agent last month, even though he knew it likely would mean serving as the No. 3 quarterback behind Drew Brees and Mark Brunell for the second consecutive year.

"The only reason I say 99 percent is because you never want to close the door before you know what's out there. But I knew this is where I wanted to be," said Harrington, who joined the Saints last September before being released and re-signed two more times in the next month. "I learned more from watching Drew for two months than I did in my first seven years in the NFL."

Harrington, who was drafted No. 3 overall by the Detroit Lions in 2002, started at least 10 games in each of his first six seasons with Detroit, Miami and Atlanta. Last year, he didn't play a down -- but he said it was probably his most beneficial season to date.

"It was all about getting my feet back under me, getting my confidence back," Harrington said. "This is the best locker room, the best group of players and coaches I've been around. This is truly the best place for me to learn and grow."

Saints Coach Sean Payton said last week that even though Harrington is the same age as Brees, he sees him as a developmental project.

"I still look at him as a young player," Payton said. "It's the one position that all of a sudden a player can have success in his 11th season and play for four years."

. . . . . . .

Mike Triplett can be reached at mtriplett@timespicayune.com or 504.826.3405.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: March 31, 2009

Nick Harris Name: Nick Harris
Position: P
Age: 30
Experience: 8 years
College: California
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