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Archive for July, 2008

Jul

29

Saints, Ellis agree to five-year deal

Posted by Mike Triplett, The Times-Picayune July 29, 2008 7:25PM

Categories: Breaking News, Saints

JACKSON, MISS. — First-round draft pick Sedrick Ellis will join the Saints today in training camp after agreeing to a five-year contract Tuesday evening.

Saints first-round draft pick Sedrick Ellis, pictured at minicamp in May, will arrive at training camp in Jackson, Miss., on Wednesday.

The deal is worth a maximum value of $49 million with $19.5 million in guarantees, according to league sources. The guaranteed money is the most important figure, since the total package includes some hard-to-reach incentives. The likely value is closer to $32 million. Performance bonuses are typical of the contracts signed by the picks ahead of Ellis.

Ellis, a defensive tackle whose holdout spanned six days and 12 practices, will fly in this morning from Tampa, Fla., where he has been working out at the Athlete’s Compound, where trained for pre-draft workouts.

He will be on the field for the Saints’ only practice today, which is scheduled for 4:20 p.m.

“It’s about time, ” Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis said. “It took a little longer than it should have, but it is what it is. We’re glad it’s done. We’re glad he’s in the fold. And we’ll see what kind of shape he’s in tomorrow afternoon.”

Loomis and Ellis’ agent, Eugene Parker, each declined to get into specifics of the negotiations. But they agreed that the structure of rookie deals has become more complicated in recent years — particularly now, with the possibility that NFL owners may opt out of the current collective bargaining agreement, which would affect the salary cap in future years.

Ellis was one of the three first-round draft picks to agree to a contract. The remaining holdouts are No. 8 pick Derrick Harvey of the Jacksonville Jaguars and No. 9 pick Keith Rivers of the Cincinnati Bengals.

Ellis was picked seventh overall out of Southern California.

“We wanted to get it done. They wanted to get it done, ” said Parker. “But you still have to go through a process, and sometimes each side wishes the other side would go down a certain path quicker than the other. But you have to stay focused until you get it done.”

Loomis said the basic parameters have been in place for the last few days.

“It’s been frustrating, just because of the length of time, and I don’t really think that was necessary, ” Loomis said. “But again, I think that’s been created by the complicated structure of deals in this era.”

Ellis could not be reached for comment, but Parker said he was excited to get in camp.

“We are happy. It’s something that we wanted to get done, ” said Parker. “Sedrick’s very mature, and he knows that this is part of it. I mean, here’s a guy that stayed for his senior year when he could have been a top-10 pick last year. So he has patience. And he knew this was necessary and it was important.

“He’s excited to get started doing what he loves to do.”

Ellis’ holdout was the longest by a Saints draft pick since receiver Devery Henderson missed seven days in 2004 and tailback Deuce McAllister missed seven days in 2001.

Loomis said he thinks the holdout will hurt Ellis, as he now tries to catch up with his teammates almost a full week into training camp. Loomis pointed to the recent hamstring injury suffered by second-round pick Tracy Porter, who also arrived two days late to camp.

Ellis won’t be totally lost, though. He participated in two minicamps and a month’s worth of organized team activities in the summer, so he’s familiar with the playbook.

Jul

24

Vilma Back In The Game

NewOrleansSaints.com,

Thursday, July 24, 2008 – 3:15 PM

Q: How did you feel today?

A: Today felt good. It was the first day. It felt really good being out there today with my teammates, actually being able to hit people now. It felt very good. It was my first time in ten months in pads. That was exciting. I went out there. I ran around, felt really good, had some contact, didn’t feel anything, so I’m excited and can’t wait for the next practice.

Q: Have the Saints told you to be cautious at times or to go after it?

A: They told me to go after it. 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.

Q: Can you discuss how this new start feels for you?

A: It feels great. The teammates I have right now are tremendous. Just being out there watching the conditioning, everyone made their weight. We came out here today just flying around and having a lot of fun. That was very exciting to see. I’m excited for my teammates, because I know we’re going to be good.

Q: Do you think your injury will affect your ability to compete for a starting role at all?

A: I really doubt that. I don’t think so, especially the way I felt today at the first practice. I felt fine and it felt good. For me, it’s really more about learning the plays and getting used to my teammates.

Q: How much more comfortable do you feel about being back in the 4-3 scheme?

A: I feel very comfortable, aside from terminology, I have to learn that again. The concepts are the same from my first two years in the NFL, so it feels really good getting back around and getting my feet on me. There’s different footwork and different reads than when you’re in the 3-4, different reads a little bit as far as the running back reads, so it’s coming back to me and hopefully we’ll get better as we keep going.

Q: How do you describe your reception with your teammates?

A: It’s been great. My teammates have been very cognizant of my knee. They don’t want to do anything crazy when we’re out there. Everyone’s asking me how my knee’s doing. They really care about my well being besides being a player. Of course I want to go out there with them when the first game starts so I’m taking care of it. My teammates have been great so far.

Q: Do you have any history with Jeremy Shockey?

A: Yes, we played two years at the University of Miami. I think we lost one game in those two years, won a championship together, so it’s great. I know a whole lot about him. A lot of people hear the outside stuff, the bad stuff and the negative comments and things like that. I know Shockey as a player, as a teammate and as a person. He’s great. I love to have him on my team.

Q: What’s he like as a person?

A: He’s a guy who’s obviously not shy and a lot of people can take what he says the wrong way, but us as players, teammates and friends, it’s great that you have a guy who’s honest like that. He’s up front and he’s forward about everything. I can really relate to him.

Q: Is it kind of ironic that the two of you are restarting your careers with the same team?

A: It will be a little irony if we both win the Super Bowl. That would be great.

Q: Does Shockey change the things you do in terms of defensive schemes when you play him?

A: Definitely, a guy like that especially when you have a really good tight end like that, it makes you adjust your defenses and adjust your coverages, even adjust some of your blitzes sometimes because of him. I know that other teams are going to have to do that, especially with the other weapons we have on offense with Reggie Bush, Marques Colston, so on and so on. It’s going to be tough for opposing defenses.

Jul

24

First Practice Pleases Payton

by Dave Lawrence, NewOrleansSaints.com

Thursday, July 24, 2008 – 2:40 PM

“In regards to the roster, we signed Wale Dada, a cornerback who got in last night and practiced today. He fills the 80th spot per se; we’re still waiting on the two drafted rookies. Mike McKenzie, Josh Bullocks, Eric Johnson and Marques Colston were the guys that did not go this morning. Marques will go this afternoon.”

Why didn’t Colston practice this morning?
“We kept him out of the morning workout because he had some inflammation in his knee and they gave him an injection which was just a lubricant that needs 24 hours to calm down. He’ll go this afternoon and we’ll monitor him.”

Is that lingering from the scope that he had?
“Depending on how much wear and tear he has – he’s been running lately and his weight is down, so he had some swelling, but that’s just something that we have to monitor.”

How did Deuce McAllister look to you out there this morning?
“He’s lost a lot of weight and because of that he’s carrying it a little bit better. I was pleased with his conditioning level and the shape he came in in and I think the further we go here we’ll see more and more but he handled the reps pretty well this morning. I’ll monitor how much work he gets this afternoon and early on we might just start with morning work and then back off a little bit in the afternoon until we get him to full speed.”

Did he get a full amount of reps today?
“He got a fair amount – I don’t know if it was the full allotment, but there are six or seven running backs out there. He was full-go this morning and this afternoon we’ll just back off a little bit.”

Was Shockey limited today?
“He had a limited amount. It’s just mainly making sure that a few players – Deuce, Shockey, David Patten, Brian Young, Colston – we just have to monitor how much work they’re getting. That will be the same with Josh Bullocks, Mike McKenzie and Eric Johnson when they get back in the fold. It’s just being smart.”

Does Patten have a specific ailment?
“No, with him it’s just his age and he has a turf toe issue that he’s battled, so we’ll be smart.”

Jonathan Vilma said he was pleased with his effort this morning. What did you see from him?
“He looked to be moving around well. He’s been looking forward to having all the restrictions removed and that’s where he’s at right now. He’s getting a full amount of reps. With some of these injured players, we just have to be smart in pushing them back to a full practice, but he’s handling it well.”

What do you want to see from Vilma in the coming weeks?
“Ultimately at that position – like most of these positions – you’re looking for production. There’s competition there between he and Simoneau, so I’ll be looking for his consistency and him adjusting to what we’re doing.”

What dimension do you expect Jeremy Shockey to add to your offense?
“He has versatility. He can block in the running game and he has enough speed to get up the field. He brings an emotional juice to the huddle, which I think is a good thing. He has versatility as a player and those are the things that you look for initially.”

Do you think that Shockey may have gotten a bad rap over the years?
“He’s a visible player. I think he’s always been a good teammate. You’d have to ask his former teammates, but in the time I spent with him in New York he was always a guy that worked extremely hard and this game is real important to him. He plays at a high level. In the time that I’ve known him and just studying and following his career, I think he’s been a real good teammate. That’s a plus and an addition for us as we move forward.”

Can it be a positive thing to have a guy like him in the huddle?
“I just think that the key is the player’s focus and his goals. He’s been a part of a lot of winning teams and that’s what he brings to the table. He has a passion for the game and those are all things that when you start matching them with the production and what he can do on the field, you look at as an asset.”

What does it mean to you to see #26 out there taking handoffs again?
“He’s driven and he’s a guy that’s obviously respected in the locker room. He understands the challenge he has, so him being back in camp and being at the weight he is – it’s been a long road for him and it hasn’t been easy. I think all of us are pulling for him, pulling for his rehab. As he takes these steps gradually back to where he’s 100%, he’s someone that has a lot of focus and determination and he’s one of our leaders.”

What is it about Deuce that makes him so easy to cheer for?
“He’s a good guy. He’s a likeable guy and he’s someone in the community that has done a great job outside of the locker room. He has helped a lot of people in his time in New Orleans and is looked upon as a class guy that has always taken the time to spend not just with his own teammates, but also the people in the area and this region. He’s from here, he played at Mississippi, and I think there are a lot of things that draw people to him, but it starts with him as a person.”

Do you sense a different hunger with this team than from a year ago?
“There is a certain amount of urgency when you’re coming off of a season when you were 7-9. I think players are anxious to start ’08 and start it off on a better note than we did last year.”

You have six receivers with three years or less of NFL experience. What are those guys going to have to do to stand out?
“I think we’ll look at production and how they play from a consistency standpoint, how they block, (and if they) are they making enough plays. I think that’s the good thing about training camp. You have an extended period of time to evaluate these players – not just at receiver, but at a lot of positions. The more and more that you can look at the film and grasp what they’re doing and have a confidence level in what they’re doing, the better off you’re going to be in the evaluation process.”

What did you think of the first practice?
“I thought it was pretty good. The temperature was a little bit cooler than we expected and I thought the tempo was pretty good.”

How disappointed are you to not have the top two draft picks on the field at the start of camp and how much will their absence hurt them?
“When you’re a rookie you’re behind the eight-ball already, so any time you’re missing reps it’s putting you further behind. My focus really has been on who is out on the practice field and really not on who isn’t. We can’t control that right now. The sooner those guys can get in the better and the longer they’re out, the more difficult it will be. It is what it is and they’re behind as it is coming into a new system, so we move forward and keep progressing.”

What has Ed Orgeron brought to your staff?
“He’s an experienced coach. He has a lot of emotion and fire and he’s passionate about teaching. I think he’s someone who cares a lot about his players and he’s very demanding. Those are a few things that I think you see right away.”

Last year on the first day of camp you were answering questions about Super Bowl expectations. Is it nicer to be a little bit under the radar?
“We have high expectations for ourselves, so the business of prognosticating playoff teams or Super Bowl teams is something we can’t control. We couldn’t two years ago and we can’t control it each year. I think what’s most important is that we’re trying in each practice to make some improvement and have an edge about ourselves in the way we practice and prepare. The stories that really matter are where you’re at at the end of the season, not at the start of the season and we understand that. We also understand and appreciate from the journalistic side to, having to predict what’s going to happen this year too. For us, it’s really about ourselves and how we’re progressing and not really about everyone else.”

Jul

24

Colston Signs Three-Year Contract Extension

NewOrleansSaints.com

Wednesday, July 23, 2008 – 6:00 PM

The New Orleans Saints have signed wide receiver Marques Colston to a three-year contract extension, it was announced today by Executive Vice President/General Manager Mickey Loomis. Colston, who has more catches in his first two seasons than any player in NFL history, is now under contract with the club until 2011.

“Marques is a team-first player and a hard worker whose productivity over his first two seasons is unmatched in club history and we believe Marques can be even better as he gains experience in the league,” said Loomis. “We are very pleased to get this deal done and look forward to seeing great things from him over the next four seasons.”

Colston has 168 receptions since entering the NFL in 2006, including a club-record 98 last season for 1,202 yards. He also tied a Saints’ record in 2007 with 11 touchdown catches. In 30 career games, Colston has recorded eight 100-yard performances and 14 contests with at least one TD grab – including four games with multiple-touchdown receptions. He has 29 catches of 20 yards or more over the last two seasons, including an 86-yard touchdown in 2006.

“It was a priority for our team to get this done before our training camp practices started,” said Coach Sean Payton. “He is an established player in the NFL and a key part of our offense. He is also becoming a leader on our team, and certainly within our group of wide receivers.”

In 2006, the lanky target was the 252nd player selected in the NFL Draft but emerged as the most productive rookie wideout in club history. Despite missing two contests, he recorded 70 catches for a team-high 1,038 yards and eight TDs. Inserted into the starting lineup immediately, after nine games he had 869 yards – the highest total in NFL history for a rookie over that span. Colston enters his third season in 2008.

Of his 168 catches since entering the league, 115 have moved the chains for a first down. He has been particularly effective on third down in his career – Colston has 49 receptions for 724 yards and six touchdowns on third down.

Jul

21

Shockey a Saint !

The Saints have acquired disgruntled New York Giants tight end Jeremy
Shockey.

Saints spokesman Greg Bensel on Monday confirmed the trade with the
Giants. The deal is pending league approval and contingent on Shockey
passing a physical.

The Saints did not immediately say what they were giving to the Giants in
exchange.

Stay tuned to WWL AM/FM & WWL.com for the latest.