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Harper: I tricked them well enough to get me here

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; Surprise pick in second round looks like safe bet to stick Monday, May 15, 2006 By Mike Triplett Staff writer To many observers, the Saints' decision to draft safety Roman Harper in the second round seems a head-scratcher. With a ...

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Old 05-15-2006, 08:28 AM   #1
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Harper: I tricked them well enough to get me here

Surprise pick in second round looks like safe bet to stick
Monday, May 15, 2006
By Mike Triplett
Staff writer
To many observers, the Saints' decision to draft safety Roman Harper in the second round seems a head-scratcher. With a significant rebuilding project in process, the Saints seemed to have glaring needs at so many other positions.



But first-year coach Sean Payton wasn't looking at specific positions. The reason, he said, is because he isn't looking for a quick fix. He wants to build a nucleus from the ground up, and that meant picking the players he liked best.

"When we selected Harper in the second round, people thought, 'You were set at safety.' Well, we were set at running back when we drafted (Reggie Bush) in the first round," Payton said.

The Saints have seven safeties on their roster, including three they have acquired during the offseason and three who started games for the team last season.

But, Payton said, "We're not married to any of these guys."

"Really, the competition is open," Payton said. "We were 3-13 a year ago, so it's hard to be set on anything. I'm not saying that in a smart way. It really is the truth. We haven't had pads on them yet, and we haven't seen them in the preseason. I want to go by what we see, and then you guys will see it the same way we see it."

So far, the Saints like what they have seen from Harper, a 6-foot, 198-pounder who started his final 38 games at Alabama.

Payton said Harper came into the weekend rookie minicamp in better shape than most of his teammates. Secondary coach Tom Hayes said he has seen the same things this weekend that he saw on Harper's college tapes.

"He's instinctive. He's mentally tough. He's a guy that flies around the field and has a good range," Hayes said. "And of course, when the pads go on, I think his stock goes up even farther, because he likes getting in the mix. Contact is his game."

Harper was well respected on and off the field at Alabama, where he was a favorite of coaches, teammates, fans and the media.

He has heard a few questions about the abundance of safeties on the roster, but he said he hasn't worried much about that yet.

"I guess I tricked them well enough to get me here," Harper said. "I didn't even know how many safeties they had on the roster. I just know that I got a phone call and I was excited.

"Hopefully I can get in here and bring some value to the team. I want to bring a little excitement to the locker room. I'm a fun, easygoing guy. I'm just looking forward to getting to know some of the older guys. I know they're going to be on me pretty hard, but I'm ready for it. I'm just looking forward to getting started. It will be fun."

On the field, Harper said he takes pride in handling his responsibilities and being in the right place at the right time.

"That's where you make most of your plays," he said. "Coach is going to put you in the right place. You just need to be there when it happens."


CORNERING THE MARKET: Some of those draft-day head scratchers might have suggested that the Saints draft a cornerback in the second round to improve their depth at a thinner position.

But the Saints might wind up filling that void yet.

The team drafted Pittsburgh cornerback Josh Lay in the sixth round, then signed Penn State's Anwar Phillips, Michigan's Grant Mason and Purdue's Ray Williams as undrafted free agents.

Phillips, in particular, was an accomplished member of the Nittany Lions' highly touted defense last season, and some national publications rated him as a first-day draft prospect.

"It was initially frustrating while the draft was going on. But the main goal is to make the team," said Phillips, 5-11, 190 pounds. "I just take it as maybe I just didn't show them something they wanted to see. And me being the competitor, I want to show them that. And I also want to establish myself and be notable in the NFL. So getting drafted or not, what it's all going to come down to is, 'Am I doing my job to the best of my ability?' "


WHY JACKSON? The Saints have not officially decided whether to hold training camp at their practice facility in Metairie or at Millsaps College in Jackson, Miss., but they seem to be leaning toward the trip.

Payton, who traveled for training camp as an assistant coach with the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants, said it adds a team-building value.

"Whenever you go away, there's always some sacrifices that everyone makes," Payton said. "The idea that you're going to leave families and go somewhere for a certain number of weeks to work on one thing, it's somewhat fundamental, I guess. I think it's beneficial from the standpoint that it develops closeness, a little bit of team. And the sacrifices that we ask them to make, we're all making.

"So the idea of just getting your dorm key, putting it on your shoelace or around your neck and going away for whatever how many weeks is somewhat appealing."

Payton said there is also a value in using the top-notch facilities in Metairie. But he said if the team left, it would be gone from those facilities for only three or four weeks.


BREES' PITCH: Saints quarterback Drew Brees will throw out the first pitch Tuesday night at Zephyr Field before the Wally Pontiff Jr. Baseball Classic between LSU and Rice.
http://www.nola.com/saints/t-p/index...2824244480.xml

That you did Mr. Harper. That you did. On a secondary note, anyone else strangely uncomfortable with Brees throwing out a pitch at a Zephyrs' game? LEt's not get ahead of ourselves here Drew. Of course, if he throws one of those President Bush type dirt ballers, is it cause he did it on purpose, or didn't have the arm strength?
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Old 05-15-2006, 08:47 AM   #2
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Here is a face to go with it.

Last edited by hagan714; 04-11-2007 at 03:25 PM..
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Old 05-15-2006, 10:54 AM   #3
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sounds like ya better get used to pulling for him
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Old 05-15-2006, 11:03 AM   #4
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Re: Harper: I tricked them well enough to get me here

Originally Posted by saintswhodi
On a secondary note, anyone else strangely uncomfortable with Brees throwing out a pitch at a Zephyrs' game?
Oh yes! That was the FIRST thing I thought of when I read this article earlier. I worry Mr. Brees may be push it too hard because he'll know how much attention this "public" throw will get.

I'm crossing my fingers and hoping he lobs one in.
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Old 05-15-2006, 11:08 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by LKelley67
sounds like ya better get used to pulling for him
Pulling for him not to suck? I do that for all Saints players. Hopefully he won't fall into the Brooks, Sullivan class of being hopeless.
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Old 05-15-2006, 11:40 AM   #6
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Guys, I'll be the first to say on draft day, I was like WTF? Why the heck did we use a 2nd round pick on a guy that we could have traded down & got? Since then, I called a buddy of mine who just so happens to work for the Alabama athletics department. Dude told me that Harper was severely underrated. He told me to watch this guy...that he would be a great pro. He's always watching film, is a workout warrior, & has a knack for always being around the ball. He also told me that this guy was the surest tackler on the Alabama squad. Now...with all that said, my buddy rarely gives kudos to anyone, so this guy may actually live up to his 2nd round selection. Time will tell. 8)

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Old 05-15-2006, 12:33 PM   #7
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Well...if it makes anyone feel better...Payton and most of the coaching staff seems to pleased with him. The article says he is not the biggest or fastest but he is smart and knows where to be. They were also pleased with how good his physical condition he was in compared to all the other rookies. Hey.....great start for the rookie we "did not need."
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Old 05-15-2006, 01:15 PM   #8
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"I guess I tricked them well enough to get me here,"
Takes some stones to say such a thing.
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