The Saints ranked 29th against the run last year, so it doesn't look like there's
been any improvement.

4. Chris Johnson disappears

The Tennessee Titans' star running back ran into a brick wall.

He rushed for a career-worst 4 yards on 11 carries as the Titans finished with 20 yards on 16 carries in a loss to the New England Patriots.

The last time we checked, the Patriots' defense wasn't evocative of the legendary "Steel Curtain."

Meanwhile, the Patriots discovered a featured runner as Stevan Ridley gained 125 yards on 21 carries.

A former 2,000-yard rusher, Johnson has to be involved effectively for the Titans' offense to work as new quarterback Jake Locker learns on the job.

5. Replacement officials.

Filling in for the regular referees due to an NFL lockout, replacement officials mistakenly gave the Seattle Seahawks an extra timeout during the final minute of the game.

The gaffe stemmed from the requirement that teams use a timeout for an injured player. Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin got hurt, then two plays later Seattle coach Pete Carroll was allowed to call a fourth timeout.

Although the Seahawks didn't capitalize on the opportunity late in the game during their 20-16 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, referee Bruce Hermansen acknowledged afterward that he made a mistake.

Meanwhile, the replacement officials called 18 penalties during the Green Bay-San Francisco game, raising the ire of combustible 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh.

And Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers described the penalties as bizarre.

awilson@baltsun.com