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.”