Saints Collins To Start Nov. 15

Kerry Collins' first start at quarterback for the New Orleans Saints will come Nov. 15 against the St. Louis Rams in the Louisiana Superdome, coach Mike Ditka said.

Collins said he was told during a brief conversation with Ditka on Thursday.

"Book it," Ditka said as he walked off the practice field Thursday. "That's all there is to it."

Ditka's plans call for Collins to back up Billy Joe Tolliver for two more games unless Tolliver plays poorly or is injured. "Then all bets are off," Ditka said.

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    Forum: Should Collins play this season?

  • The Saints play the winless Carolina Panthers Sunday in Charlotte, N.C., then meet the undefeated Minnesota Vikings in Minneapolis Nov. 8.

    Collins is in his third week as a Saint since being claimed off waivers from the Panthers on Oct. 14. Collins has practiced for nine days.

    "I think this will give me ample time to get the offense down and be ready to really execute it efficiently," he said. "I think it's a great opportunity for me. I'm looking forward to it."

    "We're a winning football team. In the meantime, I'm just going to do whatever I can in a backup role to Billy Joe."

    Kerry Collins
    Kerry Collins will get the call Nov. 15 against NFC West rival St. Louis. (AP)

    The Saints (4-3) are 1-1 under Tolliver as a starter, including a 9-3 victory Sunday against Tampa Bay.

    "He's the coach. He makes the decisions that he feels are best for the football team," Tolliver said. "Like I've said all along, they didn't bring Kerry in here to watch me play."

    "I know he's going to get his shot. My job is to win as many games as I can until he gets in there."

    Collins estimated that he is 90 percent proficient with the offense to be able to execute in a game.

    In five games against St. Louis, four as a starter, Collins has completed 68 of 119 passes (57.1 percent) for 887 yards and seven touchdowns, with nine interceptions. He is 2-2 as a starter against the Rams.

    Against Minnesota, Collins has one appearance. He was 15-of-30 for 155 yards and no touchdowns with four interceptions in a 14-12 loss to the Vikings in 1996.

    "I feel good about the way things are going," Collins said. "I think this group is headed in the right direction. I think it's going to be a lot of fun if and when I do get a chance to play."

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