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Saints News: 7.23.08

I guess I have to start off with something about Shockey.

First of all, Shockey will be wearing #88 for the black and gold this season. You'll have to jump for the rest, and it is quite a lot.


Some of you might have heard about this, since its been the talk of the day. Tom Rock from Newsday first broke the story. Here is the deal.

When the Saints traded for Jonathan Vilma earlier this year, they gave the Jets a fourth rounder in the 2008 draft with a conditional pick in the 2009 draft that could go as high as the second round. That second round pick in 2009 was then included with a fifth-rounder in the more recent deal for Shockey. So what gives?

According to a league source, the Jets would get the second round pick if Vilma plays 85 percent of the defensive snaps and the Saints sign him to a new deal before the end of this season. If those criteria are not met, the Jets will receive a third-rounder and the Giants get the second- and fifth-rounders. If the Jets get the second rounder, though, the Shockey value will change from a second- and a fifth-rounder in 2009 to a first-rounder in 2010.

No reason to really be worried though. All this means is that the Saints will wait until after the 2008 season to offer Vilma a new contract. The ball is really in their court. Here is the funny part.

It’s been speculated that Vilma, a fellow University of Miami product, was one of the players who was in Shockey's ear, trying to lure him to the Saints during this summer. If that’s the case (and we're not saying it is since that would probably be some type of tampering), Vilma may have recruited his way out of a new contract in New Orleans -- at least until after free agency opens up.

The Times-Pic had an article about his arrival, Sean Payton's feelings and details about the trade.

"I'm excited. ... It took a while," Payton said while traveling to Jackson on Monday afternoon. "I think probably you go through your range of emotions. Leading up to the draft, you think maybe it will happen. Then after that first day, there's some disappointment because it didn't. Then it kind of goes away for a while.

"But you still have that same interest, and it ended up working out in the end."

"It had really lied dormant for a few months here, and then this morning we just called to reiterate our interest," said Loomis, who said he always felt like the deal was simmering on the back burner.

"I think he'll be well-received (in the locker room)," Payton said. "I think he's a guy that wears his emotion on his sleeve. I think there are a number of players like that, but you'll never mistake him for someone who doesn't care.

"The game is very important to him, the team's success is very important. He brings a dimension of competitiveness and energy to the huddle. He's someone that wants to do well, wants to please. I look forward to it."

And if you're wondering what Eric Johnson thinks, this Buds for you.

"I haven't really had too much time to worry about how it affects me personally," Johnson said. "Really, I'm just trying to get my ankle right.

"Of course, it can be a plus. He seems like a good guy, and he'll be a good addition to the tight end squad."

You will hear from Shockey on Thursday when he meets with the media after practice.

Some of you may have heard that Giants WR Plaxico Burress was very unhappy with the recent Shockey trade. Here is what he had to say about it per the Star Ledger.

(Have you talked to Shockey?)
No, I haven't had a chance to talk to him. I left him a message and told him I was really happy for him. He didn't want to be there and when you don't want to be somewhere you have to find somewhere you're happy at, from a personal standpoint. Me personally, I want him around. Jeremy's probably one of the top reasons I came to New York. People talk about how we're a better team without him, but those are the people that don't know football. I hear that and it's like, 'You people are crazy. You've never played a down of football in your life, so what would you even know?' The guy walks on the field and he demands a double team. Before he even straps it up and goes out to play, he's already made the team better. Him going to New Orleans, he makes them one of the best offenses in the league. You put him with (Reggie) Bush, with Drew (Brees) and (Marques) Colston ... I mean Marques Colston has to be so happy right now he's probably in his backyard right now doing handsprings and cartwheels. (Shockey) gets them out of double coverage. He just makes that team so much better by going there. For us, we made that run to the Super Bowl without him, so now we'll see if we're better without him over a 16-game schedule. People got the playoff run and winning the Super Bowl mixed up with what that guy did for that organization over the past six years he's been there. That's the breaking point for me. You win five games without the guy and all of a sudden it's like the guy doesn't exist. But he's one of the main reasons why I became a Giant and why we got to the playoffs last year. I know for a fact we wouldn't have made it to the playoffs if he hadn't played at all. I'm more or less upset at the fact we could have traded him a long time ago.

(So you feel this should have been done sooner?)
Why not? Why not have everybody go into a situation where they know what's what? He could have been in New Orleans learning the playbook and things like that. And for us, three days before training camp starts, you're trading an All-Pro tight end? Imagine how we feel.

(Outside of the timing, do you feel the team could have handled it any differently?)
I don't really know what happened between Jeremy and upstairs (the front office), but the guy will tell you he was unhappy a long time ago. You should have done what was right when he wanted to do it instead of dragging through the process of not knowing where the guy was going to be, you know?

(Have you said anything to the front office?)
I don't have to say nothing. They spoke for us. Those are the guys that make the decisions. I know for myself, Jeremy made my job a lot easier. Like I said, he's one of the reasons I came to play with a tight end of that caliber, not taking anything away from (Kevin) Boss. All the negative things people say about Jeremy ... if you ask any of the guys in our locker room or anybody that played with him, nobody never has a problem with the guy. From a teammate standpoint and how hard he played ... he's one of the hardest workers I've ever been around, period. Any guy who played with him would never say Jeremy had a problem with him or that he had a problem with Jeremy. People see him on the football field and he's upset and how he speaks his mind and says what he feels, but the guy's passionate about the game. He loves it. He wants to compete. He wants the ball every play if he can get it. Me, I want to be around a person like that. I want to play with guys that want the ball, that want to score. I'm going to miss him, but he's happy and that's all that matters at the end of the day.

(In April, you said privately were going to flip out if they traded him at all...)
Yeah, well I hadn't had a chance to talk to Jeremy because he was out of the country, but I talked to him a few weeks ago and he was unhappy. The guy was almost depressed. He wanted to get out of the situation he was in and he was unhappy. I didn't know to what extent how unhappy he was until I had a chance to talk to him. And then, unselfishly, I was like, 'Man, the guy is unhappy with his situation.' You have to be unselfish and say, 'I just want the best for you as a person.' We're still going to be good friends.

Tiki Barber, John Madden and Cris Collinsworth all weighed in on the Shockey trade and give their evaluation. The story if from the Times-Pic. 

Tiki Barber

"It was great," said Barber of Payton's working relationship with Shockey, traded to the New Orleans Saints on Monday. "Sean has an ability (to find) the strengths of his players.

"He made me a star, basically, by saying, 'Don't put Tiki between the tackles. Let's do some misdirection so he can get outside and trick some people.' With Jeremy, it's, 'What's he good at? He's fast, so he's a mismatch for a linebacker. He's strong and big, so he's a mismatch for a safety. So let's put him in the slot and let him run some routes every now and then.' He thrived in (Payton's) offense.

"I think of late with the Giants, that's been his rub. He hasn't been out to catch a pass. He hasn't been put in his most advantageous situations, and injuries have been killing him every year. It's almost a product of his own success, because he became a hell of a blocker. People don't talk about this stat, but when he went out last year, the Giants went from 4.5 yards a carry to 3.5, because he was so good at that."

"I think he'll help Reggie, because Reggie is the same kind of runner that I was," Barber said. "He needs to get to the edge, and Jeremy's good at getting to the defensive linebacker or defensive end and cutting him off so you can run off his hip. So he'll be good in that regard, but also I think Sean is a pass-happy guy, and I think having Jeremy, in addition to (Marques) Colston and David Patten and those other guys, you have a potent passing offense. Reggie can catch, too.

"I think it's a good marriage, because Sean will know how to use (Shockey) and keep him happy.

"(Payton) is no-nonsense. I remember one time we had a meeting and he said to me, 'Tiki, you're so bored in this meeting, it's killing me. What do I have to do to keep you from being bored?' You respect that straightforwardness. He develops an understanding of what makes a guy thrive."

Barber also said not to worry about Shockey's propensity for hell-raising, both off the field or in sports-page quotations.

"He was the consummate professional in the locker room and on the practice field," Barber said. "He never took a day off in practice. He practices hard, he plays hard, he parties hard, he lives hard. That's just the way he lives his life. He's kind of a throwback -- 15-20 years ago, that's how players were."

John Madden

"(The trade) will help the Saints and I'll tell you why," said Madden, NBC's booth analyst, who also attended the tour. "Of all the stuff people talk about with Shockey, he's a good blocker. Tough guy, good blocker. He's a pass receiver, he can do all those things, but what I always liked is that he handle that defensive end. There's not a lot of tight ends that can do that."

Cris Collinsworth

"They throw it more than anybody," Collinsworth said. "You've got Reggie, you've got Shockey, you've got some pretty good receivers out there, you've got a quarterback who's pretty good, an offense that's pretty good about distributing everything - to me (the trade) makes a lot of sense on a lot of fronts.

"For me the whole key to the season is if they get Deuce (McAllister) back or not. If Deuce is healthy, right now they're in contention for the Super Bowl."

Don't screw this up for us Cris!

In an interview with Kidsday reporters conducted in June, Jeremy Shockey himself had some angry words to say about the Giants and his thoughts on a possible trade. Kidsday is a weekly section in NY's Newsday. I grew up on Long Island by the way, and I used to read Kidsday every week.

"If the team trades me, I promise you I'm going to make them pay," Shockey told the youngsters during a promotional appearance in Queens in early June. "If I ever get a chance to play against a team that trades me, it's not going to be a pretty sight."

When asked what team he would like to have been drafted by if he hadn't been drafted by the Saints, he responded with the New Orleans Saints. This was while he was still demanding to be traded, so it was just a good PR response.

We should probably talk a bit about training camp. The Times-Pic talks about the 10 "questions of faith" that are up in the air as we head into training camp. Though most of this is the same old stuff, its a little bit more in-depth than most others.

No, its not deja vu. It just so happens that the Clarion Ledger has put together their own list of 10 things to keep your eye on during training camp. And wouldn't you know it, they are pretty much the same as everyone else's. Read at your own risk.

The Advocate had a generic article. Nothing new here. A little Shockey, a little Deuce and a little Vilma.

The Advocate also had an article discussing the five major position battles in camp. Again, nothing here we didn't know.

The Advocate did have something of substance though, with this story telling us what Shockey's former college coach at Miami, Larry Coker, had to say about Shockey and the trade.

“Jeremy Shockey is an outstanding talent,” said Coker, who recruited Shockey to Miami. “He’s a special, special player. Jonathan Vilma is one of the smartest players I’ve ever been around. He can be as good as he wants to be.”

“That says it all,” Coker said of Payton’s familiarity with Shockey. “Sean’s not going to bring a bum into his football program. Get Jeremy on your football team and you’re going to win some games. I think it’s a great match.”

“One of the special things I love about Jeremy Shockey is that he brings passion and emotion to the game every week,” Coker said. “He’s my kind of player. He’s a tremendous playmaker.”

“Like a good head coach, I had to tell him, Jeremy, you’re not ready,” Coker said. “You’re not going to be that high a draft choice this year, there are 14 tight ends in the draft. Of course, he went into the draft, was the 14th player picked and was the first tight end.”

Coker ended it telling us what Shockey's mother once told him.

“She said, he might not be your best football player,” Coker recalled, “but he’ll be your toughest football player. She was right.”

One of the big questions going into training camp this year is the condition of Deuce McAllister's knees. The Clarion Ledger spoke with Deuce, and here is what he had to say.

"I know I can still play this game at a high level," said McAllister in a recent phone interview. "I know there's people doubting me."

"The process is coming along good," he said. "It's a long process, but it's coming along good."

"It was pretty much just being tackled the first time," said McAllister of the moment he knew he was good-to-go during his comeback from the right knee injury. "It's one thing to have (organized training activities) and run-throughs. But being in a live drill and in that first tackle and getting up knowing everything's OK puts you at ease."

"The thing I want to return to is 2002 and 2003," he said. "That's what I'm shooting for. That's the form I want to be in."

"I know I could have helped us," said McAllister, referring to last year's team that won seven games and lost nine.

"But I know the guys had to step up and make plays like Reggie and Steck ... I know it helped them mature in their careers.

"As far as number of carries, we haven't talked anything about it yet."

"It's all about how I go about it in my rehab process," he said. "I'm just going to prove to myself that I can play this game, which I know I can."

Let's all hope he can.

The Daily Comet also had an article featuring a player. This time its about new Saint Randall Gay and how it feels to be back in his home state of Louisiana.

"When I came out, I didn’t want to leave," Gay said during a break at last Friday’s Pro Football Combine Camp at Nicholls State University. "I wanted to play for the Saints. It didn’t work out then, and I ended up in New England, which was a great situation for me."

"My goal, it was a two-team thing," he said. "It was either stay where I was, or come home. That’s how it’s been with me since I’ve been in the league. You never want to leave a team that you’ve been with. You get used to the players and used to the system. If I did, (the Saints) were the only team I wanted to play for, and that’s how it worked out."

"That’s what the NFL is about. Opportunity," Gay said. "It’s a competition. You’re competing to play. You’re competing to get better. You’re competing to help your team win. That’s the ultimate goal, is to win a championship."

"I want to start," he said. "That’s how it is. Everybody wants to. But at the same time, if it’s between me starting and us winning a championship, I’m taking a championship all day. At the same time, you want to play as much as possible. That’s what this sport is about."

He also shares some stories from his days at LSU.

"Coach was like, ‘If you want to start, I’ll put you back,’" Gay said. "When I was healthy enough to play, we were doing so good, I was like, ‘Don’t change anything.’ I would much rather win a championship."

And for playing for Nick Saban and Bill Belichick

"I’ve been truly blessed to be able to play for those two people," Gay said. "Just seeing how much they know; how prepared they are for everything. When I say they are prepared for everything, they are prepared for everything. They expect a lot out of you, and you’re going to give a lot."

It's different playing for the Saints however.

"I noticed that the first day of off-season workouts," Gay recalled. "I’ve been around all these defensive coaches, where they didn’t really let the offense put in the whole playbook the first day. It was like the first play of one-on-ones, the receiver did a double move, and I’m like, ‘Ah, I know I’m with an offensive coach, now.’ So it’s a little different. But I’m sure it’s going to be a little exciting in training camp to see all the stuff they’re doing against us."

"They expect a lot. You can tell just being around how they approach the offseason," Gay said of his new teammates. "They’re real disappointed in their performance, last year. They expected to do so much more, and it didn’t come true. This year, they just came with a whole attitude of we don’t want to be where we were, last year. The year before, they were in the championship game, and they know they can be there again. That’s the way we’re going to go at it, this year. It’s there for you. You’ve just got to go out there and work to get it."

Saints TE Mark Campbell also known as "Soup" (Campbell's. Soup. Get it? I would have gone with Warhol.) will be writing a blog during training camp for the New Orleans Saints official website called "Soup of the Day" also known as "Soup du Jour." Mmmm...that sounds good. I'll have that. Yesterday was his first post.

Training camp is here! Normally in my household, when "training camp" is said by someone, they’re attacked like a pack of wolves on an injured animal. I don’t want you to misunderstand me though. You could say "train" or "training." As in when my wife asked me to go see "Sex and the City," I said ‘I can’t honey. I have to go to the gym and train.’ Or if you said "camp," that’s alright too. I enjoy going camping every now and then with my buddies and some beer. The point is two words that are good, solid words just don’t mix well together for a current player in the National Football League.

The truth is training camp is difficult but the most important time for each and every team as they finalize their rosters. With 10 years of camp experiences, I can easily tell you that no camp compares to ours in Jackson, Mississippi. For some unknown reason, the temperature goes up at least 20 degrees when the Saints arrive. The air grows thicker so you have to gasp for breath. Combine that with a gruesome schedule and the team effort of Will Smith and Charles Grant trying to rip my head off, I have just scratched the surface of my next three weeks in Jackson. I get it though. It’s hard for a reason.

Although there is a relationship built between coaches and players (aside from the new ones) there is another factor. We practice and prepare at a CHAMPIONSHIP caliber. That’s the difference that makes this camp the hardest. We do what we feel we have to for a chance to reach the Super Bowl. Hence, although Coach Payton is into his 3rd year, my theory of camp getting easier after the coach’s 1st year is officially garbage. To be where we want to be, we have to come in shape. We have to be ready.

That was just a portion. This one is a must read. He goes on with a list of ten things to make sure you do to prepare before coming to training camp. This was the most interesting part in my opinion.

Have a sun tan.

Get all your house bills taken care of. The last thing you want is Entergy calling you five times a day threatening to turn your lights off. Enough said.

Pack nice clothes and/or suit. Every year this happens. Coach will spring something on us that we need nice clothes for and guys scramble for the Men’s Wearhouse to find clothes that fit. I will not lie to you on this one. I have seen some bad outfits on teammates due to lack of preparation. Another gut shot in life to those too tall or too big for normal stores.

Get your feet right. This means toughen your feet. There are a million blisters to be had if you don’t get the skin on the bottom of your feet tough. I go for walks at night barefooted for about two weeks prior to camp. This usually works but it’s no guarantee. I know Ernie Conwell’s technique was to walk in hot sand.

Good stuff. I look forward to more.

For those of you planning on going to training camp, Millsaps College official webpage has a FAQ's page that might help answer some of your, well, frequently asked questions!

Here is Drew Brees talking to the guys on Sports Talk.

 New Orleans Saints - Saints QB Drew Brees


Here is an update on the Charles Grant situation per the Times-Pic. Forgot all about it, didn't you?

The arraignment in Saints defensive end Charles Grant's involuntary manslaughter case has been scheduled for Aug. 15 at 9 a.m. in Early County, Ga., according to the county clerk's office.

Grant will enter a plea of not guilty, according to his attorney, Edward Tolley. Because involuntary manslaughter is a felony, Grant likely will appear in person.

Great. This will be nicely timed to interfere with the season.

The Times-Pic gives us a position by position breakdown of the roster heading into training camp.

It's always easy to get a little carried away this time of year, with the anticipation of a new season clouding reasonable judgment.

But any suggestion that the Saints roster, from top to bottom, just might be the most talented in team history would get no real argument here.

It's certainly one of the deepest teams the Saints have assembled.

But one thing is certain. The battles for those final 53 roster spots are expected to be as compelling as ever.

Bleacher Report had kind of a quick, dumb article about the Saints and their expectations this year.

You better believe after all that New Orleans won't have a weak defense this season.  As long as they force more turnovers and get better down field coverage, you can bet this defense will relieve enough pressure from the offense to help keep stars like Brees and Bush healthy and fresh.

If you guys are like me and hate Aaron Brooks (I really hate him), you will love this one from the Times-Pic.

Since being released by the Oakland Raiders after the 2006 season, the former Saints quarterback who led the team to its first playoff win has seemingly fallen off the NFL's radar screen.

As NFL teams open training camps this week, Brooks remains near his hometown of Newport News, Va., awaiting a call that might not come.

"I've been working out and waiting in anticipation, " said Brooks, who spent last year out of football. "I'm kind of shocked and surprised I'm not on a team. But I've been patient all my life, so I'll just continue to do so."

Some think it may be a race thing, including former Tulane quarterback Shaun King.

"Blackballed might be too strong a word, " said ESPN analyst Shaun King, a former Tulane and NFL quarterback. "But if you really are objective, the facts point to it must be something. It's outside of normal when you look at the way that some of the quarterbacks are recycled. If you look at the rosters right now -- and I don't want to call specific guys' names, but if you look at the rosters in the National Football League and then you ask yourself based on accomplishment alone -- how is an Aaron Brooks or a Daunte Culpepper or a Byron Leftwich or a Shaun King, for that matter, not somewhere?"

I won't speak for the rest of those guys on the list, but c'mon. Did you even watch Aaron Brooks play? He really doesn't deserve it. Ugh. Why did Haslett stick with him for so long! Thank God those days are gone.

There is a lot more stuff out there now that the season is getting so close. This is getting tough guys and hard work!