Defensive worries for the Giants

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The National staff The New York Giants will begin defence of their Super Bowl title tonight without a key defensive player. Osi Umenyiora, who combined with Michael Strahan for 22 of the team's NFL-leading 52 sacks last year, will be absent against the Washington Redskins. Strahan retired after the Giants' Super Bowl win and Umenyiora suffered a knee injury in a friendly against the New York Jets. The game is the coaching debut of Washington's Jim Zorn. He succeeds Joe Gibbs, who retired to devote more time to his Nascar interests.

If the Redskins are going to contend for a play-off spot in the competitive NFC East, they y need further development from quarterback Jason Campbell, who returns from a knee injury that caused him to miss the final three games of last season. The New Orleans Saints have confirmed their first game of the season, against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, will be held in the Louisiana Superdome on Sunday after Hurricane Gustav caused only limited damage to the city.

The team had flown to Indianapolis to practice at the Colts' training facility before Gustav hit the Louisiana coastline, but will return to New Orleans tomorrow. Plans were in place to switch the game to Tampa had the storm caused substantial damage. "There were a number of critical issues that needed to be addressed before we could make this announcement," the Saints owner Tom Benson said. "We have been assured that the stadium is ready to host our fans and our team, and we have been assured by our political leaders that we have their support in making this happen."

* With agencies