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2008 Training Camp Review - Day 2

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"Reality Bites" was the appropriate theme of yesterday's practices, despite the "Edge" theme on the coaching staff's shirts today. I think we all need to come back down to earth and shake the Shockey hangover.

Consider some of the lowlights of the day:

  • Reggie dropped a few punt return attempts. This, of course, comes after expressing his desire for a larger part at that position.
  • Marvin Mitchell easily intercepted two Brees passes.
  • Pierre Thomas fell flat on this face tripping over pads.
  • Shockey dropped two passes early afternoon, one for an interception.
  • DeMario Pressley and Jon Stinchcomb struggled.
  • Andy Alleman had a very bad practice. Larry Holder says he got beat on nearly every snap.
  • And of course...Jason David got burnt by Lance Moore.

It's not all bad of course, and I am being uncharacteristically harsh, but after all of the excitement and high hopes, today's performances should have sobered us up a bit. There is still much work to be done. Shockey's arrival seemed to have jump-started the hype machine and that is the last thing we need. 

Great news about Tracy Porter yesterday. He wasted no time getting back out on the practice field. All thats left is to get Ellis back out there. It inevitably comes down to Glen Dorsey. Whenever he signs, look for Ellis to sign within 24-48 hours of that, if not sooner.

With Eric Johnson gone, that leaves Billy Miller, Mark Campbell, Buck Ortega and Ronnie Ghent fighting it out. Seems Ortega and Ghent would have to really impress to win out a spot over the other two guys. Johnson seems like a good guy and I hope he gets a chance to catch on with another team.

Wide receiver continues to be one of the positions most often talked about. Arrington is still impressing people. He and Devery were participating on special teams. It may very well come down to that. Meachem has still been fairly impressive as well. As I have mentioned earlier, Colston, Meachem and Arrington all have great wide receiver builds and are very tall. They could be scary together. Skyler Green is struggling at receiver and his special teams play will probably be his only ticket in.

The kicker battle has started to heat up and Mehlhaff is in the lead. After both he and Gramatica both made two kicks, Mehlhaff barely made his third one, while Martine missed his. I think there is a good chance Mehlhaff could win this job outright. And with the depth at other position like wide receiver, it would seem a waste of a roster spot keeping two kickers. Expect only one of them to stay.

Here is the rest of what happened yesterday:

  • McKenzie, Bullocks and Johnson did not practice.
  • Shockey was without pads in the afternoon. Maybe that was affecting his catching ability.
  • McAllister rode a bike in the afternoon.
  • The team worked a bit on special teams in the morning.
  • We saw a little bit of the kickers. Gramatica went 2/3 while Mehlhaff went 3/3. Let the battle begin.
  • Jammal Brown was still out of town for a funeral.
  • Jermon Bushrod filled in very nicely in Browns place. Very encouraging news there.
  • Carl Nicks looked very good out there working with the second team. He made his case for player of the day.
  • Carlos Robinson tweaked a hammy. This could definitely hurt his chances.
  • Coach Payton was throwing balls during practice.
  • Ed Orgeron is very loud on the field.
  • The theme of training camp seams to be "The Edge."
  • Skyler Green is going to have to make this team on special teams ability.
  • Tuff Harris had the play of the morning with a very nice interception.
  • The two big plays of the afternoon were back to back. Chris Reis, who stood out today, and made a sweet bobbling interception off Brunell while covering Arrington. Then Arrington made a great catch against Craft. It seems like Craft has been the culprit a couple of times so far. He did also have a nice interception today however.

By the way, I did the math on the countdown clock on the left sidebar and its not very accurate. But there is not much time until the first game, so I'm just gonna leave it up.

Must Reads

Transcript of press conference with Sean Payton.

New Orleans Saints official website notes from afternoon practice.

Times-Pic notes from afternoon practice.

Clarion Ledgers notes from the morning practice.

Larry Holders notes from the morning and afternoon practices from this blog.

Times-Pic summary of the day.

 

The Clarion Ledger is on the ball again with more pictures from day two of camp. Again, if anyone has some time to put some of these up in the FanPosts, that would be awesome. Big thanks to Satchmo for putting some of yesterday's pictures up!

Here are the guys from the Time-Pic with their video recap of training camp day two.

Here is Jim Henderson from WWLTV.com again  with a video report on day two at Millsaps. Check that out.

WWLTV.com has all the latest about our newest Saint, CB Tracy Porter. He answered some questions about yet unsigned first round draft pick Sedrick Ellis and about getting back out on the practice field.

"I definitely expect him to join me soon," Porter said. "I've talked to him. He and I, we're good friends. I've hung out with him. He's off doing his thing right now making sure he comes to camp in tip top shape."

"I def think it's a great thing I didn't miss too many practices," Porter said. "There's definitely stiff competition as well and those three days with the stiff comp can set you back for awhile. I'm definitely staying up to speed with what coach is throwing at me."

"They were laughing and clowning," Porter said. " 'It's about time you showed. Where you been? You took an extended vacation.' Little things like that. They're glad I'm out here and I'm glad I'm out here."

The New Orleans Saints official website had an article about Randall Gay and Jon Stinchcomb.

Here is what Gay had to say.

"Right now, no team is at a Super Bowl level, there’s a lot of work to do, you need training camp to improve in order to get to the Super Bowl," he said.

He good-naturedly said that they players were used to completing against each other and that it felt comfortable working against them since he has done it so many times in the past.

"Like old times," he said. "The good old days."

"The receivers in the SEC were so fast, that it was the same speed when I arrived at my first NFL training camp," Gay said. "The most difficult task was playing with quarterbacks like Tom Brady. Any little misstep and they’ll take advantage of you."

"The heat is something that you just have to battle through and not let it get in your head," he said. "It’s there, you know it’s going to be hot and you just have to work through it. We’ll be a better team because of it, no doubt about it."

Jon Stinchcomb had some quotes for us as well.

"The have ratcheted it up a bit, I would say," said Stinchcomb. "They (the defensive linemen) are flying off the ball and it’s making us all better. The battles are just starting but the pace is pretty intense."

They’re two more weapons," Stinchcomb said of Shockey and Campbell. "Obviously they’re talented players who have had a great deal of success throughout their careers. Anytime you can add players that are multi-dimensional and add that to your offense, your offense is always going to be a plus no matter how you look at it."

Reggie Bush was very talkative and forthcoming in this article from the Times-Pic about the third year running back and his expectations for the year. Warning: very high expectations below.

Bush said after Friday afternoon's practice that he would like to have 1,000 yards rushing and 1,000 yards receiving this season, preferably with his rushing total closer to 1,200 or 1,300 yards.

"I plan to be in the Pro Bowl, and I plan too, definitely, for us to make an appearance in the playoffs, if not the Super Bowl, " Bush said. "I just plan to have a really good all-around year, as a running back, and to be up there with the top three or four running backs this year."

"I definitely feel like I'm going to be better this year, just being my third year and having that experience under my belt, " said Bush, who added that he already felt smarter this season.

"You can't substitute for being around your teammates and being around your coaches in the offseason and getting a little extra film work in or a little extra weightlifting with your teammates, the little things that I think you can't substitute for if you're not around the facility, " Bush said.

Here is what Drew Brees had to say about Reggie.

"I think there's kind of a calm confidence about him that maybe is different from years past, " Saints quarterback Drew Brees said. "In the past, he's kind of been that young, flashy rookie back or second-year back. But now, in that third year, I think he's placed a lot of expectations on himself. I think he's eliminated a lot of distractions, and now it's time to get down to business for him."

"Certainly I don't want him to put too much pressure on himself, " Brees said. "I think this league and all the fans and everybody probably have. The expectation levels have never been as high for a guy as they were for him over the last two years, coming out of college. You get into this league, and it's different. It's tougher. You have to probably do things that you've never done before and adjust and learn in ways that you haven't. So for him, and what I expect out of him, I expect him to just be a productive player. He's such a versatile player."

New running backs coach offered a nugget of information as well.

"I think it's a play-by-play production, " Kromer said about his expectations for Bush. "You're just looking for him to gain 4 yards on the first run he gets, and that's what we're looking for -- 4-yard gain, positive gain and to keep the chains moving."

It's now or never Reggie.

Interestingly enough, USA Today had a similar article about Reggie's teammate, Deuce McAllister. The article recalls a story in which Lebron James announce Deuce's presence at a ribbon cutting ceremony and everyone began chanting "Deeeeeuuuuuuccccceee!"

"It just shows you the respect and the love that they have in that city," McAllister said Thursday following his first practice of training camp. "You've got a mega superstar - LeBron - he ranks right up there with Kobe (Bryant), Allen Iverson and some of those guys. You say those names and I can't say my name travels like that around the world. But in New Orleans I get that unfound love, so it's definitely special, the bond that those fans and I have."

Mike Karney, who is a big Deuce fan, discussed what it was like to have him back.

"A lot of tears when he went down, but a lot of smiles this morning," Karney said after the first day of practice. "It's an exciting time for Saints football with him on the field. It's because of the person he is. He's so down to earth. He cares not just about the game, but he cares about people. That gets people to root for him even harder whether times are tough or times are good."

Sometimes, the response is, "You're crazy, man. You ain't going back to the Pro Bowl," McAllister said.

"That's fuel to my fire," he continued. "When it gets tough in that training room, that weight room, even out on the field, that's more that I can pull from and that's more that I can add to (what) drives me."

Here is another one on D. Mac, this time from The Advocate. It's, of course, about his knee(s) and the recovery of said knee(s).

I haven’t done anything yet,” said McAllister, who’s become known over the years for being brutally honest with reporters. “Yeah, I made a practice. But I practiced during the organized team activities (in the spring).

“It’s not like it’s live (tackling) or anything,” he said. “Once I go through a session where it really matters, then I’ll count it as a milestone. This was just another day for me.”

“Playing. Playing against Tampa Bay. That will be something that really means something,” he said. “Even in preseason, it means something. But it doesn’t really mean anything as far as statistics counting for a win. That’s when it will start meaning something.”

Quarterback Drew Brees joked that McAllister looked so good, he probably weighed what he did in his senior season at Ole Miss.

“I haven’t gotten down that low,” McAllister said with a laugh, “but I’m probably about four or five pounds away from where I want to be as far as the season is concerned. I’m just trying to make myself as light as possible to take off as much pressure as possible on the knees and then get some of that quickness back.

“As far as going out and playing the game, I know that to be where I want to be, I have to do something ‘special.’ And that was putting in a lot of time in the training room, a lot of time in the weight room and conditioning my body and getting it ready.”

“As far as making cuts and just going out there and playing the game, that’s what I’m trying to get to,” he said. “It’s just the overall conditioning of the knees and getting into that grinding type of schedule.”

“In the morning is truly when my work is being done,” he said. “There are a set number of carries and a set number of plays that I’m on right now. We’ll just see how it goes and progress as we get closer to the season.”

“I think we have something to prove,” McAllister said. “We didn’t win it all last year, so I think we have something to prove right there. Each individual has something to prove, myself included. I have to prove that at age 29 and coming off two knee surgeries, I’m still a viable option for this team.”

Yet another story about  the "Bum Knee Club." Here are some quotes from each of the members.

"I'm ready so I want to push it," McKenzie said.

"They're doing the right thing in keeping me limited," McKenzie said. "I don't know how long they're going to be able to keep me on the side just watching."

"They told me to go after it," Vilma said. "I have a good deal with them. I told them I will honestly tell them how I feel, if I was really feeling it or hurting or anything. We don't want any setbacks. That's the biggest thing.

"I want to be ready for the first game of the season. I'm really gauging it as well as the training staff and Sean Payton. He's really watching me as I'm going and gauging how I feel and I told him I feel good."

"Right now, the only thing that I'm doing in the afternoon is the individual drills and then get on the bike for a session or two," McAllister said. "In the morning is truly when my work is being done. There are a set number of carries and a set number of plays that I'm on right now and we'll just see how it goes and progress as we get closer to the season."

"I had a little limp and I didn't realize it because it got so natural and I got so much used to it," Meachem said. "Now the limp is gone and now I feel like I'm going to play every play."

It's time once again for another installment of TE Mark Campbell's blog "Soup of the Day."

Our first three practices are in the books. It is hot as my mother’s kitchen during Thanksgiving. I tried to hide from the sun. I believe I have actually figured it out the best way to try to get a bit of a break from the sun. With an eagle eye, I discovered we have some rather large men on this team. They are a great source of shade. With that in mind, I strategically placed myself next to the big boys.

This stuff is great! He could put me out of a job.

Our second practice generally consists of more of a passing emphasis. As usual, Drew Brees was sharp today. The guy is amazing. He competes as well as anyone I’ve ever been around. Whether it’s our first practice or one-hundredth practice, he’ll give you everything at the highest level possible. He has an attitude I would tell everyone to emulate. Put it this way, I would love for my son to be like him. He would be a good man, an all-pro quarterback, and rich.

If you're not clicking over and reading the whole thing, again, I highly suggest it.

NewOrleans.com had the details on Marques Colston's shiny new contract extension.

Colston's deal is for four years worth $15 million with $9.675 million guaranteed. He will receive a base salary of $500,000 this season (2008). That figure accelerates to $2.25 million in 2009, $2.7 million in 2010, and $3 million in 2011.

Additionally, Colston has incentives for performance in the deal. They include:
**$200,000 for making the Pro Bowl
**$100,000 for 75 receptions
**$100,000 for 1,150 receiving yards
**$100,000 for 7 or more touchdown receptions

Scott Fujita had a quote in this Times-Pic article about expectations.

"I don't think playing Indianapolis that early was helpful, " said linebacker Scott Fujita. "They were very sharp. Usually they come into a season really fresh. They take care of their guys in camp, and they come out and they're like a machine. So opening up with them wasn't the best thing in the world. I think the guys liked that challenge, but we didn't do a real good job of managing our expectations last year. We definitely have to do a better job of that this year."

"Well, right now I don't think everyone has us pegged to go to the Super Bowl like they did last year, and I don't think for the most part the guys around here are going to listen to that kind of stuff. It gets to you a little bit. When it comes down to it, there's a little bit good about being the underdog and having that chip on your shoulder."