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Saints' Collins To Start Sun.

Troubled quarterback Kerry Collins will get his first start for the Saints on Sunday when slumping New Orleans plays host to the St. Louis Rams.

Coach Mike Ditka turned to Collins after last week's 31-24 loss in Minnesota. Billy Joe Tolliver completed 11-of-16 passes for 168 yards and a touchdown, but he is 1-3 as a starter and the Saints have lost five of six games after opening the season 3-0.

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The 25-year-old Collins has not played for New Orleans since the Saints claimed him off waivers from the Carolina Panthers on Oct. 14. On Nov. 2, Collins was charged with driving while impaired after police in Charlotte, N.C., stopped his 1995 Lexus.

The Saints had given Collins permission to stay in Charlotte after a 31-17 loss to the Panthers the day before. He was supposed to take care of personal business but instead went out with former teammates.

He has denied having a drinking problem and has apologized for his actions, calling his behavior "unacceptable, careless and immature."

Collins' return to North Carolina was his first since Oct. 7, when he told Panthers coach Dom Capers to remove him as starter because his heart was not in it. He was demoted to third string, then waived six days later after team officials unsuccessfully pursued a trade.

The Saints claimed Collins and the rest of his $1.15 million salary.

Collins was Carolina's first-ever draft pick in 1995 and led the Panthers to a surprising appearance in the NFC championship game one season later. But since then he has had problems on and off the field.

Last season, he offended teammates by allegedly using a racial epithet during taining camp and suffered a broken jaw in a preseason game against the Denver Broncos. Collins went on to lead the league with 21 interceptions and finished last in passing efficiency.

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