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Titans Wrap up Preseason Tonight at New Orleans (7 p.m., CT)

NEW ORLEANS - Although they'll spend the regular season preaching against looking ahead, at this time of the year NFL players and coaches readily admit to it.

For the Tennessee Titans and the New Orleans Saints, the biggest factor in Thursday night's preseason finale is the games coming up next week.

Saints coach Sean Payton is trying to balance the work some veterans still need with his desire to make sure everyone is fresh- and uninjured - for the Sept. 8 opener at Green Bay.

Tennessee looks to shore up a running game that may not include holdout Chris Johnson without losing anyone for its Sept. 11 opener at Jacksonville.

"The No. 1 one thing is coming out healthy, but you can't go into the game playing that way,'' said Titans quarterback Matt Hasselbeck. "You go into the game playing that way you're not going to play like yourself and not play very well. But at the end of the day, that's the goal.''

Hasselbeck will only have his game face on for eight to 10 snaps however, coach Mike Munchak said.

Ditto for Saints quarterback Drew Brees, or maybe even fewer.

"Obviously what's foremost in our mind is preparing for Green Bay, to prepare both physically and mentally for that game,'' Brees said.

Some of New Orleans starters may get more game time than they normally would in the last of the practice games.

"There are a handful of veterans who haven't had as many snaps because of injury in this preseason that we'll look to play some to get them more up to speed and more familiar with game-like conditions,'' Payton said. "You'll see some veteran players that need the work.''

The Saints' defense, which looked better last week against the Oakland Raiders, might also benefit from more game time. New Orleans will also have a new starter at left defensive end after the surprising cut of veteran Alex Brown on Tuesday. Turk McBride and Cam Jordan will compete for that job.

Tennessee will not play defensive end Derrick Morgan, the first-round-pick last year. He had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee Monday to repair a torn ligament. Kick returner Marc Mariani and defensive end Jason Jones will also be resting up for Green Bay.

The Titans are still without their star running back. Johnson is still holding out for a new contract. The Titans are ready to make him the highest-paid running back in NFL history. He reportedly wants $13 million a year.

One person not looking ahead is wide receiver Kevin Curtis. He was signed by the Titans last weekend and this game will be his shot at making the team.

"He has experience, we like his speed, and we want to see how he fits with us,'' Munchak said. "It's hard to do that in a short period of time and we all know that. So we will see in a game-like situation on Thursday how he does and that's what we will have to look at. We know what he has done in the past, so we are just going to kind of see where he is at for us for the future.''

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