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Archive for March, 2008

Mar

23

Saints Agree to Terms with Vet OL Lehr

NewOrleansSaints.com

Thursday, March 20, 2008 – 9:57 AM

Lehr previously played for Coach Payton in Dallas.

The New Orleans Saints have signed unrestricted free-agent offensive lineman Matt Lehr, it was announced by the club today. Terms of the contract were not announced. Lehr, who has started 48 -of-85 NFL games and is entering his eighth season, has played both center and guard in his career.

Arriving in New Orleans after playing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2007, Lehr (6-2, 304) has also had stints with Atlanta (2005-06) and Dallas (2001-04). Originally a fifth-round pick by the Cowboys out of Virginia Tech, he was with Dallas while Saints’ Coach Sean Payton was with the club as Assistant Head Coach/Quarterbacks Coach starting in 2003.

Lehr opened all 16 games in 2003 at guard for the Cowboys, and 26 games from 2005-06 for Atlanta, including 11 starts his final season with the Falcons at left guard. Last year he was a top reserve for the Buccaneers and played in every game, without a start.

Mar

23

Off And Running

by Doug Miller, NewOrleansSaints.com

Monday, March 17, 2008 – 4:26 PM

The New Orleans Saints began their 12-week strength-and-conditioning program for the 66 players currently on the team’s roster today. Under the direction of Strength and Conditioning Coach Dan Dalrymple, the Saints’ players returned to New Orleans with the intent of preparing for the 2008 season, and by all accounts, day one was a rousing success.

The majority of the work the players will undergo throughout the course of the stringent voluntary program focuses equally on weight training, conditioning and speed development for those players that are physically at the point of being able to fully participate. A handful of other players, such as CB Mike McKenzie and RB Deuce McAllister, are still in phases of injury rehabilitation that may limit some of the exercises that they are able to perform, while still being able to join in the important camaraderie and team-building principles that take place through working together.

“It’s good to be back around the guys and catch up,” said LB Scott Fujita. “I know that in speaking to the rest of the guys, we want to put the bad taste out of mouths and get started towards our goals in 2008. That’s why we are all here and it’s great to see virtually every guy here right off the bat.”

A few players, including DT Hollis Thomas and QB Drew Brees, are representing the team at NFL Players Association meetings in Hawaii, but are expected to return to New Orleans in the very near future.

Head Coach Sean Payton said today that the off-season work that the players invest in is important for a number of reasons, primarily the ability of the players to get in peak physical condition after having allowed their bodies proper rest over the course of the past two and a half months. “These are professional athletes and this is their vocation,” Payton said, sporting a muted green sports shirt in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day. “There are a lot of prideful players in that locker room and it’s good to see them excited about what lies in front of them. They know the off-season program is challenging but it’s for their best interests and most importantly, for the success of our team.”

The strength and conditioning sessions will transition into some on-the-field work later in the spring with three weeks of organized team activities (OTA’s), while there will also be a mini-camp (May 9-11) soon after the NFL Draft, as well as a full-squad mini-camp (May 30-June 1).

Payton, along with the rest of the Saints’ front office and coaching staff, have been busy at work in re-tooling the composition of the team’s roster with a handful of new players, including MLB Jonathan Vilma, LB Dan Morgan, CB Randall Gay, DE Bobby McCray and QB Mark Brunell. Many other players re-signed with the team, thus insuring stability and consistency in the team’s team-first approach, including such notable contributors such as LB Mark Simoneau, TE’s Eric Johnson and Billy Miller, RB Aaron Stecker, WR David Patten, among others.

“That is an important part for all of us,” Payton said of the infusion of new players and the chemistry that is associated with the newcomers blending in to the composition of the returning players. “The one thing that I know is that we have a locker room that is made up of good, solid individuals who understand how important teamwork is, and I also feel strongly that we have spent a lot of time thinking and talking and researching them, before we added them, about the new players that we have brought in and what positive impacts they will have on the make-up of our roster. That is important to me and important to us.”

Players were given the option of working either in the morning or in the afternoon, with a full-team meeting sandwiched around the workouts sessions. The meeting, according to Payton, was to outline the expectations of what the strength-and-conditioning sessions will entail, the importance of participation, and of the challenges and opportunities that lie in front of the 2008 Saints.

Payton also mentioned that in discussions with RB Reggie Bush, he expects Bush to be a regular in this year’s program. Last season Bush split time between his West Coast home and New Orleans. News that evidently pleased Payton, “He (Reggie) is planning on being involved in all of our off-season, which is good and encouraging. I think it’s important for him and for all running backs, with the pounding they take, to be real diligent in the weight room.”

The team’s roster, now in the mid 60’s, will swell to close to 80 players in a less than two months, pending the team’s 2008 Draft class and incoming rookie free agents. When asked about the direction the team may head in late April’s Draft, Payton, as expected, said that the team was still in the process of evaluating all of the draftable candidates and didn’t shed any particular insight into what direction the team may head with the 10th overall pick.

“Clearly we will be looking to get a player there that can help us,” Payton said. “But I know that our feeling is that we want players in the second, third, fifth, sixth and seventh rounds, as well. We have had players here that were taken in all of those rounds that we count on and we believe that will continue.”

Mar

02

Saints Agree To Terms with DE Bobby McCray

Doug Miller, NewOrleansSaints.com
Sunday, March 02, 2008 – 3:34 PM
The New Orleans Saints announced today that they agreed to terms on a five-year contract with unrestricted free agent defensive end Bobby McCray. The announcement of McCray’s agreement was made by Saints’ Executive Vice President/General Manager Mickey Loomis.

McCray, 6-6, 262-pounds, was one of the Jacksonville Jaguars’ starting defensive ends the past two seasons and ranks tied for seventh in franchise history with DT Marcus Stroud, who was recently traded to the Buffalo Bills, with 22 career sacks. A seventh-round pick out of the University of Florida by Jacksonville in 2004, McCray has played in 61 regular season games during his four-year career and recorded 94 tackles, 22 sacks and seven forced fumbles. The 26-year old native of Homestead, Fla. registered a career-high 10 sacks in 2006. In addition, McCray has played in three career playoff games, starting both the AFC Wild Card and AFC Divisional Playoff games the Jaguars advanced to in 2007, while also appearing in an AFC Wild Card game in 2005.

“Bobby is a player we identified as being able to come in and help us in the defensive line rotation,” said Loomis. “He is a player that is quick off the edge and has displayed a penchant for being able to generate pressure on the quarterback and be disruptive in passing situations.”

As a collegian with the Gators, McCray played in 36 games, making 15 starts over the course of his last two seasons, and recorded 107 tackles, 14.5 sacks, 20.5 tackles for losses, 31 quarterback pressures, two passes defensed, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.

Mar

02

Saints Agree to Terms with Randall Gay

NewOrleansSaints.com
Sunday, March 02, 2008 – 7:00 PM

 

The New Orleans Saints announced Sunday that they have agreed to terms on a four-year contract with unrestricted free agent cornerback Randall Gay. The announcement was made by Saints’ Executive Vice President/General Manager Mickey Loomis.

Gay, a 5-11, 190-pound defensive back comes home to Louisiana after spending the first four years of his professional career with the New England Patriots. The Brusly, La. native and former LSU Tiger has played in 39 regular season NFL games, making 14 starts, along with six postseason games since entering the league as an undrafted free agent in 2004.

“Randall is a player we targeted early on in this free agent market and we’re extremely pleased to be able to bring him on board,” Loomis said. “He’s a very talented player that has demonstrated throughout his football career that he is a winner and we’re confident he will prove to be an asset to our defense.”

The four-year veteran has played in two Super Bowls in his young career and earned a ring following his rookie season with a win in Super Bowl XXXIX, a game in which he made 11 solo tackles. He has recorded 83 career tackles and five interceptions, along with 14 pass defenses, forced a fumble and recovered three, returning two of the fumbles for touchdowns.

Gay enjoyed the best statistical year of his career in 2007, intercepting three passes and knocking down seven others, to go along with 33 tackles. He also forced a fumble and scooped up the loose ball to return it 15 yards for a touchdown. Playing in three additional postseason contests, Gay tallied eight tackles, two pass defenses and a forced fumble. The 25-year old cornerback played in all 19 games for New England after seeing his 2005 and 2006 seasons cut short by ankle and hamstring injuries, respectively.

A champion on the collegiate and pro levels, Gay was part of the 2003 BCS National Championship team at LSU and completed his career in Baton Rouge with 123 tackles, three sacks, two interceptions and 28 pass defenses in 42 games.

 

Mar

01

Saints Agree to Terms with Henderson

Ricky Zeller, NewOrleansSaints.com
Saturday, March 01, 2008 – 4:58 PM
The New Orleans Saints have retained an important offensive weapon by agreeing to terms with  WR Devery Henderson it was announced today by Executive Vice President/General Manager Mickey Loomis. Terms of the contracts for the veteran, who was an Unrestricted Free Agent, was not released.

Henderson has 74 receptions for 1,497 yards and 11 touchdowns since being drafted in the second round out of LSU in 2004. One of the NFL’s fastest players, his receiving average of 20.2 leads the club over that span, and the distance of his 11 career touchdown catches have averaged 36.2 yards.

Henderson has played in 44 games with 19 starts since joining the Saints, and has 10 grabs of 45 yards or more. He led the NFL in 2006 with an average of 23.3 yards per catch, and his five TD grabs that season averaged 48.2 yards. In 2007, Henderson hauled in 20 passes for 403 yards (20.5 avg.) with three touchdowns. He added the fourth 100-yard performance of his career with four catches for 101 yards, including a 54-yard reception, vs. Carolina, Oct. 7.

Mar

01

Saints Agree to Terms with Brian Young and Mark Simoneau

Ricky Zeller and Doug Miller, NewOrleansSaints.com
Friday, February 29, 2008 – 5:27 PM

The New Orleans Saints have agreed to terms with LB Mark Simoneau and DT Brian Young, it was announced today by Executive Vice President/General Manager Mickey Loomis. Terms of the contracts for the two veterans were not released.

Simoneau and Young each agreed to terms Thursday evening, hours before they entered the NFL’s open market as Unrestricted Free Agents.

“We’ve always taken a proactive approach when it comes to signing the players we want back before they enter free agency,” said Loomis. “Both Mark and Brian are excellent, hard-working players who have proven to be key contributors on our defense.”

Simoneau joined the Saints after a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles in August of 2006 and has since started 30 of 32 games at middle linebacker. He has recorded 170 tackles (102 solo), three sacks, an interception and knocked down a pair of passes with New Orleans. Entering his ninth season in 2008, last year Simoneau ranked second on the club with 97 stops, the second-highest total of his career. He’s also been a key addition on special teams.

Young was originally signed by the Saints as an Unrestricted Free Agent in 2004 after a four-year stint with the St. Louis Rams, and has been one of the club’s most consistent performers since his arrival. He has opened 55 of 56 games in New Orleans and posted 250 tackles (135 solo), 11 sacks, a pair of fumble recoveries and a forced fumble.

Prior to 2007, Young had started all 47 games he had played for the Saints. Last season, he appeared in nine games, opening eight, missing a four-game stretch with an injured knee before being placed on injured reserve late in the year with pneumonia. Young enters his eighth season in 2008.

The Saints also announced today that they hosted two unrestricted free agent players today at the team’s Airline Drive headquarters in Metairie. The two veteran players were DE Bobby McCray and CB Aaron Glenn.

McCray, a 6-6, 262-pound defensive end, was one of the Jacksonville Jaguars’ starting defensive ends the past two seasons and ranks tied for seventh in franchise history with DT Marcus Stroud in sacks (22). A seventh-round pick out of the University of Florida by Jacksonville in 2004, he has played in 61 regular season games during his four-year career and recorded 94 tackles, 22 sacks and seven forced fumbles. The 26-year old native of Homestead, Fla. registered a career-high 10 sacks in 2006.

Glenn, a 5-9, 183-pound first-round draft choice of the New York Jets in 1994 out of Texas A&M, is a 14-year veteran cornerback who has played for the Jets (1994-2001), Houston Texans (2002-2004), Dallas Cowboys (2005-2006) and most recently with the Jacksonville Jaguars (2007). He has accumulated 633 career tackles, 41 career interceptions for 560 yards and six touchdowns via interception returns. Glenn, 35, ranks fifth among active interception leaders in the NFL, trailing only the Minnesota Vikings’ Darren Sharper (53), former Kansas City Chief Ty Law (52), Jacksonville Jaguars Sammy Knight and Denver Broncos Champ Bailey (42 each). Glenn is one of 23 players in NFL history to have returned two interceptions for touchdowns in the same game, a feat he accomplished in 2002.

Mar

01

Saints Acquire LB Jonathan Vilma from Jets

Doug Miller, NewOrleansSaints.com

Friday, February 29, 2008 – 1:32 PM

The New Orleans Saints announced today that they have acquired middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma from the New York Jets in exchange for an undisclosed draft choice. The announcement of Vilma’s acquisition was made by Saints Executive Vice President/General Manager Mickey Loomis.

Vilma, 25, was selected by the Jets with the 12th pick overall (first round) in the 2004 NFL Draft and earned the Associated Press NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year honor for his 118-tackle, three-interception, two-sack season. The 6-1, 230-pound graduate of the University of Miami has started every regular season game (55) but two that he has played over the past four seasons while with the Jets (2004-2007), as well as starting all three playoff games he appeared in while a member of the Jets.

“We are pleased to announce the acquisition of Jonathan,” said Loomis. “He has been a player that has performed at a very high level quickly in his career and takes the game very seriously and is passionate about his profession. We spent time with him before the draft in 2004 and once again once the Jets made it known that he could pursue other opportunities. In talking with people that are familiar with him, it is clear that he is serious and passionate about the game, that winning is something that is extremely important to him and he has leadership skills that he backs up with his play on the field. We are aware and comfortable with his progress in returning from the injury that sidelined him for the second half of the 2007 season. We’ve consulted with our medical staff and spent time investigating the particulars surrounding the injury and we’re confident that he will return to the standard of play that he set through the first three-and-a-half years of his career.”

“I am very happy to be joining the Saints’ organization,” Vilma said. “I enjoyed my four seasons with the Jets and thank them for the opportunities they gave me. But this represents a new chapter in my football career and in my life and I am truly excited and fortunate to be joining a team that just a little over a year ago was one win away from appearing in the Super Bowl. People that I know have all told me that New Orleans is a great place to play, and the fans are passionate and rally around their team. I am eager to meet my new teammates and get involved with the community efforts that face New Orleans.”

The native of Coral Gables, Fla. has accumulated 460 total tackles (312 solo, 148 assists), 14 passes defensed, six interceptions returned for 60 yards (including an interception returned for a touchdown in 2004), five forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries (16 return yards) and two-and-a-half sacks during regular season play. In three postseason contests, the former two-time Butkus Award finalist has started three games and registered 36 stops (20 solo), along with a sack during his career. Vilma has recorded 18 games with double-digit tackles, including a career-high 18 stops at Denver on Nov. 18, 2005.

Vilma became the first Jets defender since former LB Kyle Clifton (1984-1986) to begin his career with three consecutive 100-tackle seasons: posting seasonal tackle totals of 118 (2004), a career-high 187 (2005) and 116 (2006), before the 100-tackle streak was halted in 2007 after a knee injury ended his 2007 season after the first seven games.
As a collegian at Miami, Vilma played in 47 games for the Hurricanes, making 37 starts, and recorded 371 tackles (234 solo stops), 30 tackles for losses, seven fumble recoveries, four forced fumbles, 12 passes defensed and one interception. Along with his success on the field, Vilma was a three-time Academic All-Big East Conference honoree. He received a degree in finance from the University of Miami’s School of Business Administration. Vilma, fluent in German and French, also is conversant in Spanish and cited his desire to learn the various foreign languages as preparation for a possible career in the medical field as a youngster.