Saints Prefer to See Less of Rookie QB
Saints would prefer to see less of rookie quarterback
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
John DeShazie, Times-Picayuner
That's not only an area code for Chicago, but it's also the registered scale reading for the poundage mounted on the 6-foot frame of a quarterback -- which, if you care to use the imagination just a little, actually might have given Bruce Eugene a body proportion worthy of its own area code.
"Just eating," Eugene said, before adding that the stress of having family members displaced from New Orleans by Hurricana Katrina move into his place in Grambling contributed to the problem. "And eating. But that's not an excuse. It was taking my body for granted."
Which, more than anything, helped place a burdensome weight on Eugene's star-studded college career that now, as a free-agent rookie for his hometown Saints, he has to shed.
See, a player can compile all the impressive numbers in the world -- and Eugene did -- at Grambling State, including a Division I-AA-record 140 touchdown passes, a school-record 13,530 passing yards and 30 victories in 38 starts. But when he's carrying around so much excess baggage that college teammates and coaches nickname him the "Round Mound of Touchdown," it's catchy and cute to everyone except NFL coaches.
"I know it was an issue," Eugene said.
One that, thankfully, is becoming less and less of one.
The former Cohen star now is at 255 pounds and plans to trim off at least another 15 to 20 before the Saints get to training camp.
No, no one yet has taken to calling him "Slim" and his weight loss doesn't guarantee him anything with the Saints, who already have four quarterbacks on the roster (Drew Brees, Todd Bouman, Jamie Martin and Adrian McPherson).
But it's a start. More, it's a focused exhibit of discipline that, perhaps, helps ease a concern that teams logically had about him.
"He has a strong arm, and he is a guy that when we had him in our local workout, he was impressive," Saints coach Sean Payton said. "You could see his arm strength throwing the ball. He just had to work a little bit on his accuracy and location.
"Part of that is foot related, and we have to get him in shape because he is too heavy right now. He is close to being a guard and not a quarterback, but he does have a strong arm, and we will see."
What they already have seen, and likely will continue to see, is talent. A player doesn't post the numbers Eugene did, on any level, without having talent.
Obviously, he'll require polish, and t[B]hat's going to be the tricky part, because acquiring polish takes time. And the Saints might not have much of it to give Eugene.
The undrafted rookie needs reps, but he won't get them at the expense of the starting quarterback (Brees) who is returning from injury and hasn't played in Payton's offensive system. And he's not going to get them at the expense of Brees' backup, Martin or Bouman. He might not be able to take away many of them from McPherson, either, a fifth-round pick in 2005 who has awed with his physical ability.
So he has to get all he can while he can during sessions like the rookie minicamp, and hope to turn a head with the Saints or somewhere else.
"I learned a lot about the NFL, about the (Saints') system," Eugene said. "I didn't feel out of place. Where you went to college doesn't matter; football is football.
"I feel like as long as I get a chance to show what I can do, I'll make that impression. I feel like I have a good chance, but that's out of my control. All I can do is perform as well as I can, to the best of my ability."
So far, it's easy to like what we see -- mainly, because we see a lot less of it.
Now, all Eugene has to do is make sure his talent stands out just as well.
Saw Eugene play a couple of times at Grambling. Yeah, he's a hoss! He's also got a very strong arm. I'm glad to see the Saints picked him up as a free agent. He could very easily beat out Bouman and Macpherson for the 3rd string position, IMO
I love how Eugene's weight is considered a problem, but Pep's isn't. Just goes to show you what a name can accomplish.
Culpepper also stands about 5 or 6 inces taller than Eugene. Eugene being only 6' tall really makes 255 lbs look huge on him.
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