Saints News: 5.1.08

The Times-Pic did their usual live chat Q&A, so I will do my usual review. The whole thing can be found here .

On Jeremy Shockey...

JIMMY SMITH: The Shockey deal, from what I'm told, is not dead. Sean Payton, apparently, is transfixed with Jeremy Shockey and it wouldn't be surprising at all if the deal is consummated in the near future, possibly before the minicamp at the end of June. Payton loves the player and believes, apparently, that he'd be a big upgrade at the position. The tight end position is important to the Saints offense as something other than another blocker, and Shockey could go a long way in improving the pass-catching aspect of that spot.

On special teams...

MIKE TRIPLETT: Hey LeVar, I think the Saints are thinking like you with Reggie. They want to maximize his potential and maximize their investment on him. I expect to see him returning more punts. … Last year, he was a little dinged-up, and he was too valuable to the offense after Deuce went down.

 

Tracy Porter could compete for a return-man role, too. Lance Moore is still a decent option, and Pierre Thomas can return kickoffs. … They should be a little better this year.

On the RB situation...

MIKE TRIPLETT: Hey Brian and Derrick and Ross, I think the Saints will be OK at running back. I think they had good enough depth last year when Deuce went down. I just think their biggest mistake was that they moved Reggie Bush inside to replace him and dumbed down their offense as a result.

 

I think Deuce could still be good for 10 to 15 carries a game. But even if he can’t return to form, they could use Aaron Stecker and Pierre Thomas for 10 to 15 carries a game, with Reggie doing a little of everything. I don’t think that’s a weakness at all.

On Carl Nicks...

MIKE TRIPLETT: Hey Mike, Great Name! Maybe we’re related. [Note by Saintsational, 04/30/08 8:43 PM PDT The questioners name was Mike Doublett. Thats pretty funny, c'mon! ]

 

Nicks has the most potential of any of the Saints’ Day 2 draft choices. At one point in January, he was being ranked alongside some of the first-round tackles in this year’s draft class. He’s got some character concerns and some work-ethic concerns, so he’s hardly a sure thing. But he knows he’s on a short leash, so he should be motivated. I wouldn’t expect anything from him this year, but he could develop into a powerful run-blocker, either at right tackle or guard.

On our kicker situation...

MIKE TRIPLETT: I wouldn’t kick Gramatica out of town just yet. I think the Saints really liked him after his brief audition last December. I just think they’re tired of messing around with that position. They’ve used four different guys over the last two years, and they want some security.

It’s also possible that both guys stick on the roster. Mehlhaff has a big leg and could become a kickoff specialist/long field-goal kicker.

On DeMario Pressley...

JIMMY SMITH:   That did seem to be a nice choice at the time, John. Pressley seems to be an impressive speciman and the way the Saints rotate their defensive linemen, if he's able to stick around, he should see some playing time.

On Vilma...

MIKE TRIPLETT: Hey Jeremy, we should find out more about Vilma – and Morgan, for that matter – once the OTAs start. … His health is definitely a concern. He had an unusual knee surgery – grafting a piece of bone from another part of his body to replace a piece of dead bone in his knee. Of course there could be complications. But the injury itself is an issue he’s been playing through for a long time, so the Saints are optimistic.

 

My outlook on him is, of course, assuming he’s healthy. He could be the defense’s version of Drew Brees two years ago.

On our safety situation...

JIMMY SMITH: That's a very interesting hypothesis, Perrin. If Mike McKenzie has lost some of his cover-ability in the aftermath of his ACL injury, turning him into a safety might be an option. He's always seemed to play the run well and it might be an easy transition for him. Reponding to all those questions about the safety position, the Saints were obviously not entirely pleased with the play of Roman Harper last year since they dangled him as trade bait to the Giants in the Shockey talks. Kevin Kaesviharn seemed to come on at the end of the year. Josh Bullocks was somewhat spotty, playing well at times, playing inconsistent at others. With a new secondary coach on board, there could be some transitioning at that position this summer.

On Adrian Arrington...

MIKE TRIPLETT: Arrington slipped in the draft because of some character concerns (not too serious, though, it seems) and maybe because he’s a little one-dimensional as a receiver. He’s very big with good hands, but he’s not exceptionally fast or versatile. I also don’t think he projects as much of a special-teams asset, so he would need to make the team as a top-three or top-four receiver, which will be difficult.

I think his size could help him stand out, though. I haven’t seen him stand next to Robert Meachem, but I assume he’s bigger than any of the Saints receivers, outside of Colston. And like we said before, the Saints are always willing to go with a guy if he looks great in camp, no matter what round they drafted him in.

On Mark Brunell making the team...

JIMMY SMITH: There's no question that Mark Brunell will be on the 53-man roster, Greg. The Saints need a qualified, veteran backup to Drew Brees and they wouldn't have signed him to a two-year contract if they didn't intend to keep him around. The team isn't ready to anoint Tyler Palko as Brees' heir apparent yet.. He needs more seasoning in Payton's offensive system. But Palko will be on the roster, too.

On our defensive line...

JIMMY SMITH: There's a likelihood, Steve, that we'll see Charles Grant move inside some, at least experimentally. But the Saints coaches do a lot of rotation with their defensive linemen so the next step in that progression would be to insert Grant inside to see what he can do alongside McCray and, perhaps, Ellis. You're certain to see Ellis and Pressley on the field side-by-side as well as seeing each rookie opposite Hollis Thomas and Brian Young.

The Sun-Herald had this article on second round pick Tracey Porter.

"We had had conversations with him and his coach. He gives us return ability and he has real good ball skills. He would clearly have been a guy that was in our second-round circle a week ago. What we try to do is draw these circles with the idea of ranking who we think will be available, and in Porter's case he was a guy because there was a need, but just as importantly, we felt his skill set ranked in that area."

Porter's addition to the Saints places nine cornerbacks on the roster (Glenn, Gay, Mike McKenzie, Jason David, Jason Craft, Usama Young, Anwar Phillips and Greg Fassitt).

"I will play any and every area they want me to in New Orleans right now, whether it be corner, nickel or whatever," he said. "I am going to come in there and help get the entire defense better, the secondary as well as the front seven guys. Those guys that do that job, they know now that I am a Saint and coming in and I am looking to help in every aspect of the game."

I'm excited about him. In all honesty, if he lives up to the hype, he could really make a difference in the short term.

The guys over at Who Dat Say claim to have had a run-in with Mike McKenzie at a Hornets game and the news is good.

But the best news of all: Mike says he will be ready to go when next season rolls around.

Keep in mind this is "hearsay" and none of this is confirmed. But if its true, great!

This is a great article from the NY Times for all you Voodoo lovers. It explains the cities love for the team.

“I’m aware that they do a lot of good,” Joyce said as Wimprine walked away. “You see them on TV. They’re good for New Orleans.”

On Friday night, the VooDoo hosted winless Utah. Outside the arena, children jumped in an inflatable trampoline, mascots in skeleton costumes walked on stilts, a band covered Def Leppard and balloon-animal makers did their thing.

“We just love New Orleans and what it stands for,” said Linda Poillion, a season-ticket holder who had driven from Hammond, La., for the game. “It’s just a lot of fun; it’s real family-oriented.”

The article also reveals a little about Cinderella-story and fan favorite QB Danny Wimprine.

For 2007, Wimprine signed on as the third-string quarterback. Ascending to starter by trades and injuries this season, he has won his first five games and lost only once, on the road against Dallas.

With his schoolboy haircut, easy smile and handy prayer book, Wimprine has found no shortage of admirers here. He says yes ma’am, quotes his father and coddles the puppy adopted by his girlfriend of 11 years. Between practices, his schedule last week included visiting a Kiwanis Club at 7 a.m. on Thursday.

If you are into the Voodoo, as I have become, you will like this article. Definitely check it out. It's also nice that a big publication like the NY Times is getting the team some national attention. As a season ticket holder, this makes me happy and I can never stress enough how fun the games can be to attend. It is not the NFL. It never will be. It needs to be taken for what it is and not held to the same expectations as the NFL. It is a completely different entity. I think the biggest obstacle to success for the Voodoo and Arena Football in general is the inability to get over the everyday fan's constant comparison to the NFL. But the fact remains, the games are fun and the team is good. If you are a true football fan, then you should be able to see the talent in these players and find respect for them.

And for you golf lovers with the NFL Network, Drew Brees is hosting his annual golf tournament. This comes from the New Orleans Saints official website .

On Friday, May 2 at 7:00 pm CT, the NFL Network will televise The Drew Brees NFL Golf Championship.

The spectacular field of talent assembled for the golf tournament will only be trumped by the remarkable setting of the tournament, Torrey Pines Golf Club, which is the site of the 2008 U.S. Open.

Brees, who annually hosts the tournament, holds the event for the purpose of generating awareness and funds for The Brees Dream Foundation. The 2007 NFL Man of the Year (along with former SD teammate LaDainian Tomlinson) for their outstanding contributions both on and off the football field, is also an accomplished golfer who has played in many high profile golf events in his free time, including the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, the Celebrity Golf Tour Championships in Lake Tahoe, and most recently, the PGA Tour’s Zurich Classic.

For more information on the golf tournament, simply click here, or for ways that you can help out Drew and The Brees Drew Foundation, click here.

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