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Saints owner favors Baton Rouge

But logistical issues with LSU will have to be worked out

Saints owner Tom Benson, who drew criticism for his silence concerning where the team should play home games in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, prefers to call Baton Rouge home.

In a statement issued Tuesday, Benson echoed players and coaches who've said they prefer to play in Tiger Stadium on the LSU campus. Benson said he told the NFL he would like the Saints to play there "to the extent circumstances allow."

NFL spokesman Joe Browne said the league has been in contact with LSU and Baton Rouge officials and hopes the Saints eventually will be able to play home games there.

There are logistical issues potentially blocking the Saints from playing some early-season home dates at 92,000-seat Tiger Stadium about 80 miles northwest of their longtime home, the storm-damaged Louisiana Superdome. The LSU campus is home to relief efforts that even forced the Tigers to postpone their first home game and move their second one this Saturday to Arizona State.

Benson also assured season ticket holders they will be refunded if they are unable to attend games, wherever they may be played. He said the team was still finishing the details of its refund policy.

"The entire New Orleans Saints organization would like to extend its prayers and best wishes to all of our fans throughout Louisiana and the Gulf South region," Benson said.

Benson added he wants the club to be "a source of pride and joy in these difficult days."

"As we move forward together, the Saints look forward to serving as a leader in the rebuilding and revitalization of our great community," Benson said, noting that the club is setting up a relief fund for the storm-ravaged region.

The Saints already agreed to play their first scheduled home date in New York against the Giants on Sept. 19. The next home game in question is Oct. 2 against Buffalo.

VIKINGS ADD ROBINSON: Koren Robinson, a troubled underachiever with Seattle agreed to terms Tuesday on a two-year contract with the Minnesota Vikings. To make room at a crowded wide receiver position, the Vikings waived Kelly Campbell.

Chosen with the ninth overall pick in the 2001 draft by Seattle, the 25-year-old Robinson was released in June after he was charged with drunken driving. That was the latest in a series of off-the-field troubles for Robinson, who checked himself into a 28-day alcohol rehabilitation program last month.

Robinson's best season was in 2002, when he caught 78 passes for 1,240 yards and five touchdowns.

BETTIS OUT: Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jerome Bettis won't play in Sunday's season opener against Tennessee because of the strained right calf that kept him out of the team's final preseason game.

With Bettis and Duce Staley (knee surgery) hurting, coach Bill Cowher said No. 3 running back Willie Parker will make his first career start. Parker, a college backup at North Carolina, ran for 102 yards against Buffalo on Jan. 2 in his only extensive playing time as a rookie.

Staley hasn't been ruled out — he is listed as questionable — but missed the entire preseason and has practiced only once with the team since training camp began.

The Steelers also signed Quincy Morgan, released by the Dallas Cowboys over the weekend, to add depth to their depleted group of wide receivers.

MANNING RESUMES PRACTICE: Eli Manning participated in his first full practice Tuesday, more than two weeks after suffering an elbow sprain on his throwing arm and five days before the team's regular season opener.

"I felt fine," the New York Giants quarterback said. "I wanted to take all of the snaps, but (coach Tom Coughlin) took me out and I don't argue with the head man about that. But I was making all the throws. I threw some deep ones that actually had too much on them. I have to work on the timing on some of those things, but it felt good throwing."

Coughlin, who had backup Tim Hasselbeck run about six plays near the end of practice, termed Manning's workout a success.

"He looked OK," Coughlin said. "He took most of the reps throughout practice. He threw the ball well, he was sharp with it and he was quick in his movements. I was pleased with the day."

GARCIA DOESN'T NEED SURGERY: Detroit Lions backup quarterback Jeff Garcia won't need surgery on his broken left leg. The decision was made Tuesday after a leg and ankle specialist confirmed the initial diagnosis. Garcia is expected to be out six to eight weeks, and the Lions have no immediate plans to sign another quarterback. They will open the season Sunday against Green Bay with starter Joey Harrington and backup Dan Orlovsky, a rookie out of Connecticut.

RHODES WILL MISS OPENER: Defensive coordinator Ray Rhodes will not be with the Seattle Seahawks for Sunday's regular season opener at Jacksonville after being hospitalized for dizziness. Rhodes, 54, was sent to a hospital by team doctors on Sunday for a series of tests. The team said he was released from the hospital on Tuesday. The Seahawks said doctors have yet to find an explanation for Rhodes' dizziness so he will continue to undergo tests and be monitored during the next few days.

BILLS SWITCH LONG-SNAPPERS: A Orchard Park, N.Y., the Buffalo Bills changed long snappers Tuesday, signing Mike Schneck and releasing Jon Dorenbos. Schneck spent six seasons with Pittsburgh before being released Saturday.

Dorenbos appeared in 29 games with Buffalo after making the team as an undrafted rookie free agent out of UTEP in 2003.