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Drew Brees can lean on Saints OC Pete Carmichael

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CANTON, Ohio -- One immediate question facing the New Orleans Saints is how the team -- and its quarterback, Drew Brees -- will adjust to suspended coach Sean Payton's absence.

Brees and Payton have been joined at the hip during their six seasons together in New Orleans. Their ability to communicate through rough-and-tumble moments on the field is proven. So what do we have in the pairing of Brees and interim coach Joe Vitt?

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Based on what little we saw in Sunday night's Hall of Fame Game against the Arizona Cardinals (granted, a sparse test sample), it appears Brees and Vitt won't collaborate in the same manner Brees and Payton did during games. Zero surprises here. Brees has a soulmate in offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael. And with Vitt facing a six-game suspension of his own to start the season, it's Carmichael who steps into the (sigh) interim-interim role during a critical early-season stretch.

The hopeful note in New Orleans is the deep history between Carmichael and his quarterback. They've worked together for years, dating to their days with the San Diego Chargers.

The Saints face a lot of change, but we're not worried about how this offense will perform. With Brees at the helm against the Cardinals, they rolled down the field with ease. Expect to see a lot of that in 2012.

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