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Aces in the hole

Martz says Saturday's game plan will feature changes

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Posted: Tuesday December 26, 2000 2:49 PM

  Mike Martz St. Louis head coach Mike Martz says New Orleans should expect some changes Saturday. Jeff Gross/Allsport

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- There are at least a few more tricks up Mike Martz' sleeve for the St. Louis Rams' third game in six weeks against the New Orleans Saints.

The Rams' head coach anticipates the game plan for Saturday's wild card game will be about two-thirds new from what the defending Super Bowl champions used in their 26-21 victory on Sunday. He's convinced he can still surprise the Saints.

"Oh, I'm sure," Martz said. "We try to change it up each week, whether it's the same opponent or not."

Martz expects the Saints (10-6) will have some wrinkles the Rams (10-6) haven't seen, as well. New Orleans returned to practice Tuesday, while Martz gave players their second consecutive day off.

"I'm sure they'll have some new things for us, that's just the way it is," Martz said. "You try to get one leg up in some respects by having something a little bit different, whether it's formations and a different run or two, or a pass play."

Defense is another story. Martz believes teams are better off going with their best, and not over-adjusting.

"I think you play what you play on defense," Martz said. "You can change it somewhat, but my experience this year is the people who have changed for us defensively eventually go right back to what they do normally.

"I think it's a little easier to do what you do and adjust to it and just to rally to the ball as opposed to doing something dramatically different."

A case in point was the Saints' defense on Sunday. Martz said it was about the same, with New Orleans playing two deep safeties most of the game, except for some increased pressure.

"They came after us a little bit more, but by and large I think it was pretty much the same," Martz said.

Whether or not the plays change, preparing for a familiar opponent will make the short work week heading into Saturday's game less of a factor.

"I think the preparation part of it is a big advantage for us, and obviously it is for them, too," Martz said. "Obviously you don't use your whole game plan, so there's stil some things you've got in and have practiced or worked on that you didn't get a chance to get to."

The Rams had a markedly better game offensively the second time around with the Saints, largely due to Marshall Faulk. Faulk was used sparingly in Saints' 31-24 victory in Game 12, two weeks after he returned from midseason knee surgery.

On Sunday, Faulk had 220 yards rushing, 41 receiving and scored three touchdowns.

"He's just incredible," Martz said. "Somebody find me a better player in this universe."


 
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