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Fine to start at tight end; rookie Nelson doubtful

Bills rookie tight end Shawn Nelson is listed as doubtful for Sunday's game against New Orleans because of a sore shoulder.

Derek Fine will start at tight end for the Bills, and it's likely first-year man Jonathan Stupar will be the team's No. 2 tight end.

Defensive tackle John McCargo (calf) also is doubtful. Listed as questionable with ankle injuries are cornerback Terrence McGee and receiver Josh Reed. Both practiced on a limited basis Friday. Listed as probable are center Geoff Hangartner (back), cornerback Leodis McKelvin (leg) and receiver Roscoe Parrish (thigh).

New Orleans will be without starting running back Mike Bell due to a knee injury. His backup, Pierre Thomas, isn't 100 percent due to a sore knee but did practice fully each day this week. Second-year back Lynell Hamilton probably will see action for the Saints.

Saints left tackle Jammal Brown (hip) and defensive tackle Kendrick Clancy (knee) both are out. Defensive end Charles Grant (hamstring) and strong safety Roman Harper (hamstring) both are probable. No. 4 receiver Lance Moore (hamstring) is out.

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Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams will make his first return to the Ralph Wilson Stadium sidelines Sunday since his removal as Bills head coach after the 2003 season.

Saints coach Sean Payton never had worked with Williams in his NFL career. But Payton had coached against him as a play-caller in New York, Dallas and New Orleans.

"It would always seem that regardless of his personnel, they were one that tackled well, that played with great fundamentals and gave you enough looks to cause problems," Payton said. "They were always challenging for us, whether it was in Dallas or in New York or our first season here in New Orleans."

Williams coached Washington's defense to a top-10 NFL finish in four of the past five seasons. Williams' Buffalo defenses improved from 21st to 15th to second in his three years here. The Saints ranked 23rd last year in yards allowed and 26th in points allowed.

"He's come in and is very demanding," Payton said. "I think at first there was a lot to go through and install. . . . But I like the direction that it's headed."

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Saints quarterback Drew Brees was a pretty good tennis player when he was in middle school, and there was a lot of athletic talent on the courts in Austin, Texas, where he grew up. Brees played against Andy Roddick, currently No. 6 in the tennis world ranking. Also in the group was Chris Mihm, who was a 6-foot-6 sixth-grader and grew to become a 7-foot center who has played with four different NBA teams.

"He always played in a division above him because he was so good," Brees said of Roddick. "So this would have been between the ages of 10 and 12 for me and eight to 10 for him. We played four times when we were growing up, and I beat him three out of four. But he beat me the last time we played, and that was when I was on my way out and kind of eliminated tennis as one of my sports and focused on football, basketball and baseball."

Roddick is a Nebraska native but lived in Austin from ages 4 to 10.

"You could tell at a young age just his ability and his skill was so much better than mine," Brees said. "I was a serve-and-volley guy, so I could kind of overpower him at that point because I had a really good serve and I would just come to the net and just volley them. That's what I did against everybody I played. I wasn't a good ground stroke player. Had it worked out I think I would have been a pretty good tennis player."

email: mgaughan@buffnews.com

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