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Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
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Jo-Lonn Dunbar Excelling For The Saints

While starting middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma has missed time with a lingering knee injury, Jo-Lonn Dunbar has stepped for the New Orleans Saints in a big way. He earned his second game ball of the season for his excellent play in Monday night's win over the Giants. Simply put, Dunbar continues to get better.

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Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images
Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images
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Saints Injury Report

New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton gave his team the entire week off during the open date. The team returned to practice this week refreshed and healthy. However, there are still a few names on the latest injury report.

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Photo by NFL via Getty Images
Photo by NFL via Getty Images
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Jo-Lonn Dunbar Stepping Up

New Orleans Saints linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar has filled in admirably in the middle for injured pro bowler Jonathan Vilma the last two weeks. He's fast, he's young, and he's third on the team in tackles. In Sunday's win over the Atlanta Falcons, he made the biggest play of his career.

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(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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Five Things The Saints Need To Work On Improving

The New Orleans Saints are 7-3 on the year, and are in sole-possession of first-place in the NFC Saints.

Like with every team though, there's certainly room for improvement.

With the bye week here for the black & gold, they can use it to get healthy, with linebacker Jonathan Vilma, cornerback Patrick Robinson, along with head coach Sean Payton being the most banged-up.

But the Saints can also use the bye week to work on areas that need improving, such as establishing a more consistent running attack, and becoming a better red zone defense.

In defense of Saints' red zone defense, the Falcons gained 481 yards of total offense last Sunday, yet only scored 23 points, in an overtime game, as the New Orleans defense was much better in the red zone.

What other areas do the Saints need to improve on following the bye week?

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Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
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Saints Place Garrett Hartley On Injured Reserve

New Orleans Saints kicker Garrett Hartley was put on injured reserve yesterday. Hartley suffered an unspecified hip injury while kicking an extra point during the preseason. Hartley's agent claims that Hartley recently suffered a set back while rehabbing the injury, leading the Saints place him on IR. New Orleans also released defensive tackle Mitch King and signed linebacker Ramon Humber and offensive tackle Pat McQuinston.

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(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
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Jonathan Vilma Respected By Everyone

Middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma is the heart and soul of the New Orleans Saints' defense.

In his three season with the Saints, Vilma has been in on 347 tackles, including including 256 solos tackles, along with seven sacks, and five interceptions.

But Vilma's worth doesn't rest with numbers, alone.

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Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images
Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images
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5 Reasons The New Orleans Saints Get Back to the Super Bowl in 2011

The 2011 NFL lockout has already made the 2011 NFL season interesting and no one has even played a regular game yet. Because of the lockout restricting all NFL business for the majority of the offseason, teams have only had a few weeks to take care of things that are normally spread out over the course of a few months. Trades, signings and moves are being made at a frantic pace that can almost be compared to kids picking teams on a playground. Teams like Philly are already calling themselves the "Dream Team." Some teams have turmoil and conflict from within the organization and the huddle, and seemingly through this NFL gumbo of excitement and drama, the New Orleans Saints are comfortably flying under the radar as they approach a 2011 season that according to BleacherReport, can easily see the Black & Gold back in the Super Bowl.

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