Additions, continuity make secondary stronger

METAIRIE, La. -- Here are five observations on the New Orleans Saints, based on their Aug. 9 practice:

1. When the Saints opened the 2004 season with a home loss to the Seattle Seahawks, the starting secondary included cornerbacks Ashley Ambrose and Fred Thomas, strong safety Jay Bellamy and free safety Tebucky Jones. We know it's trite but, yep, what a difference a year makes. Assuming everyone stays healthy through the preseason, the starters for the Sept. 11 opener at Carolina will be Mike McKenzie at left cornerback, Fakhir Brown on the right corner, Dwight Smith at free safety and Bellamy at strong safety. Suddenly a unit that represented one of the Saints' most glaring weaknesses is an obvious strength.