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Hass Article from Oregon

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; No surprise: Hass impresses Saints The Oregon State receiver continues doing what he does best -- turning doubters' heads Sunday, May 21, 2006 JIM BESEDA The Oregonian METAIRIE, La. -- Curtis Johnson, the New Orleans Saints' wide receivers coach, stopped ...

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Old 05-21-2006, 10:01 AM   #1
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Hass Article from Oregon

No surprise: Hass impresses Saints
The Oregon State receiver continues doing what he does best -- turning doubters' heads
Sunday, May 21, 2006
JIM BESEDA
The Oregonian

METAIRIE, La. -- Curtis Johnson, the New Orleans Saints' wide receivers coach, stopped the drill.

One of the free agent receivers in the Saints' rookie camp had just made a decent play on a short out pattern, turning his hips in the direction of the quarterback and catching the perfectly thrown pass while scissors-stepping toward the left sideline.

Johnson's point: That isn't the way he wants the Saints receivers to run an out pattern. Rather than face the quarterback, the receiver is supposed to be at full speed when the ball arrives, increasing the chance of being able to turn up field after making the catch.

"Like this," said Johnson, running toward the sideline with his arms pumping, knees high, hips squared and perpendicular to the line of scrimmage. "Not like this, like you were in 'Chorus Line.' "

Mike Hass was up next.

The Saints' sixth-round draft pick from Oregon State sprinted 12 yards, curled in, caught a pass that was a little high, cradled the ball and turned up field and ran.

"Hey, Hass!" Johnson hollered. "That's what I'm talkin' about, right there! I like that!"

The play was hardly spectacular. But it was emblematic of how Hass will make it in the NFL, if he makes it at all. He will run a route the way it's supposed to be run and catch anything he can get his hands on.

"I really like Mike," said Johnson, who acknowledged that Hass was "a little bit faster than I thought he would be."

"Mike catches the ball. That's the No. 1 thing. I mean, we were one of the teams that dropped the most balls in the NFL last year, so Mike is a guy that can definitely help us."

Hass is coming to a franchise that is trying to get a fresh start on many levels. It's an almost ideal situation for a player who is accustomed to disproving doubters.

"The jobs are open," Johnson said. "It wasn't as if we won the Super Bowl. . . Mike is a player that we definitely want to be on the team."

It's one advantage of at least being a draft choice, even a late one. Teams root for draft choices, even late ones, to make the roster. Every draft choice cut represents a defeat in the scouting process, and teams don't like admitting defeats.

Still, Hass understood the need to perform from the start.

"They've drafted you and they have an idea what you can do, but they haven't seen you play in person, so you want to put your best foot forward the first time they see you," Hass said. "Nothing is guaranteed in the NFL."

Hass was one of five receivers who attended last week's three-day, no-pads mini-camp for rookies and free agents at the Saints' practice facility a few miles west of New Orleans. The camp featured five practices and several team meetings, all of which took on added significance because the head coach -- Sean Payton -- and his staff are new.

For many of the players, the camp marked the first time any of them had seen a NFL playbook. The Saints added pages each day, giving the prospects more than they could realistically be expected to absorb in three days.

"We are going to shove a lot down their throats early and let them digest it as best they can," Payton said.

Players spent most of the practice time in small groups working on individual skills, then would come together toward the end of each workout for 7-on-7 work.

Hitting wasn't the only thing missing. The rookies didn't have the Saints' emblem on the sides of the helmets. Those have to be "earned," which is one of the motivational techniques Payton picked up while working the past three seasons as a quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator under Bill Parcells with the Dallas Cowboys.

Even first-round pick Reggie Bush, the Heisman Trophy winner from USC, had a helmet that was blank except for two strips of white athletic tape above the facemask with his last name spelled out in bold, black capital letters.

Bush said it helped to make him feel as if he were "just another guy trying to prove myself again."

Hass said he could relate to Bush's way of thinking, but proving himself as a football player also has been the story of Hass' career from the time he left Beaverton's Jesuit High School and arrived as a walk-on at Oregon State to his first mini-camp with the Saints.

"That's just the role that I've played my whole life," Hass said. "It's time to overcome it again. That's it."

An exhausting routine

Many of Hass' receptions on the camp's first day were routine plays, but he also made a few diving catches, and another when he ran across the middle and leapt over two defenders to make the grab.

"One of the things we talked about last night with the team as one of the first ways you're going to be evaluated is, 'Does he know what to do?' " Payton said. "If a player doesn't know what to do, then how can you possibly put him in the game?

"Hass knows what to do, and it looks like, after two practices, he does what we're coaching, he executes his assignment, so . . . there's something to be said for that.

"You know, it's just two practices without pads on, but he was solid."

Hass said he had some jitters heading into his first NFL practice.

"Yeah, there's always a little nervous energy when you don't know exactly what to expect, and New Orleans is so far away," he said. "But once you get down here, it's just like Corvallis, except extremely hot."

Hass also was worn out.

The temperature climbed into the low 80s before the end of the first practice and stayed there through rest of the afternoon, making an already great challenge even more difficult, especially for somebody who grew up playing in mostly wet, cold conditions.

"You feel the heat a little bit when you're sucking wind, but it's just another thing you have to battle through and you've got to get used to," Hass said. "If you're going to play in New Orleans, you've got to get used to the heat."

Hass had a simple agenda after the first day of drills. "Eat, meet, and sleep," Hass said. "That's it, man."

No jaunt down Bourbon Street? No visit to the French Quarter? No carriage ride around Jackson Square? No trip to the city's Lower Ninth Ward to see the devastation that still lingers in Hurricane Katrina's wake? Not even a swamp tour?

"You're down here for business, and business only," said Hass, whose sightseeing was limited to the Saints' practice facility, the team hotel and the airport. Talent beyond the numbers

The knock on Hass coming off his record-breaking senior season at Oregon State was that he lacked "ideal NFL measurables."

He was the first receiver in Pacific-10 Conference history to surpass 1,000 yards receiving in three consecutive seasons, and he won last season's Biletnikoff Award as the nation's top receiver. But his unremarkable 6-foot, 207-pound frame along with his 4.59-second speed in the 40-yard dash -- considered glacial for receivers -- didn't please NFL scouts.

The Saints selected Hass with the 171st pick overall.

"I think a lot of teams had him graded just like we did -- as a guy who could have been picked much higher," Saints general manager Mickey Loomis said. "Sometimes the circumstances are such that if a team didn't need a receiver, then they go another direction.

"We just couldn't pass up the opportunity with Mike. We were very surprised that he was still available to us."

Loomis grew up in Eugene, played basketball at Northwest Christian College, graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in accounting in 1979 and earned a master's degree in sports administration from Wichita State. One of Loomis' close friends is OSU coach Mike Riley, a one-time Saints assistant.

"Coach Riley just went on and on, and has gone on and on about Mike's character and his talent, too," Loomis said. "He gets labeled an 'overachiever' and this, that and the other, but he's a talented, talented player, and already in this rookie camp he's been impressive."

Last season, the Saints ranked 14th among the NFL's 32 teams in passing offense, averaging 208.9 receiving yards. Donte' Stallworth was the team's leading receiver with 70 catches for 945 yards and seven touchdowns, followed by Joe Horn with 49 receptions for 654 yards and one touchdown.

The Saints finished 3-13 and missed the playoffs for the fourth consecutive time in a season everything on the field was overshadowed by the damage Hurricane Katrina inflicted on New Orleans.

But the offseason has been promising. The Saints signed free agent quarterback Drew Brees from San Diego to a six-year contract. Brees expects to have Horn and Stallworth as primary targets next season, while Hass is expected to compete with Devery Henderson, Chase Lyman, Chris Horn and Michael Lewis for the third, fourth, and fifth wide receiver spots.

"The opportunity here is unlimited," Loomis said. "Mike has the advantage of having a new coaching staff in place, so there's no preconceived notions." Testimonial from Bush

On the second day of the NFL draft, Bush was sitting in a room at the Saints' practice facility watching videotapes with running backs coach George Henshaw when Payton came in and asked a question.

"Coach Payton was like, 'Real quick, who do you like more? Hass or . . .' I forgot the other guy,' " Bush said. "I was like, 'Well, I played against Hass, and I know what a great player he is. The guy just makes plays all the time. He's not the biggest, strongest, fastest guy, but he just continues to make plays, and there's a reason why he won the Biletnikoff. I like Hass.'

"And then Coach Henshaw said something about the other guy."

A few minutes later, the Saints picked Hass.

"I don't want to say I was the reason they drafted him, because ultimately it was their decision," Bush said. "But Coach Payton asked me, and I told him what I thought."

Bobby Hebert, the former NFL All-Pro quarterback and current co-host of a sports radio talk show on New Orleans' WWL (870), became an instant Hass fan after watching him make one catch after another in the mini-camp.

"It would almost be newsworthy to see him drop a ball," said Hebert, who played parts of 11 seasons in the NFL, including seven with the Saints. "When you can catch the ball like that, teams will give you an opportunity to play."

Hebert said Hass reminds him a little of former Saints receiver Eric Martin, and more of Fred Biletnikoff -- only with short hair and minus the stick'um.

"Honestly, right now, on this team, I know Hass has got the best hands," Hebert said. "Joe Horn, as good as he is, he has dropped passes, and Donte' Stallworth . . . you know, whoever it is. So I think with Hass, just him being reliable and catching the football will increase his chances of making the team.

"Right now, I don't see how he can't make the team, based just on the little bit I've seen."

Herbert also said that because Hass played his college ball under two former NFL coaches -- Dennis Erickson and Riley -- he should have less trouble in his transition to the pro game."I'm not saying he'll be a starting receiver," Hebert said. "But in an obvious passing situation, if you have three wideouts and Reggie Bush as a fourth receiver, you can't double-team everyone. So I could see Hass beating the single coverage and making that first down to sustain drives." Looking toward fall

Hass stood in line waiting for his turn to run along the line of scrimmage and shift sharply up field, bending over and scooping up an empty burlap sack off the turf as he made his cut.

"That's a special teams drill," Hass said. "It gets you to lower your center of gravity to pad level. It's for gunners on punt coverage."

Hass? A gunner?

"Special teams is a way to contribute," Hass said. "If they want me to do it, I'll do it.

"It's still so early that I can't tell what my role is. This is just a rookie camp. I'm just trying to make a good impression with all the coaches. I'll do whatever they want me to do."

Five practices in three days were enough.

As Hass trudged toward the locker room after the final rookie camp workout, he was mad at himself for forgetting where exactly to line up a few times in a particular formation -- "rookie mistakes," he said -- plus he let a perfectly thrown ball go right between his hands.

On top of that, he had blisters on the bottom of both feet.

"The best part was just playing football again," Hass said. "It's been since early December. You go through all that predraft stuff -- running in a straight line, running cone drills -- but those things are kind of unrealistic compared to what you really do on a football field. But you do those to get here and put yourself in this position.

"It's nice to be here."

Scott Smith, Hass' Wisconsin-based agent, said he hopes to sit down with the Saints in the next two or three weeks to begin negotiating a contract.

While that gets worked out, Hass will be in Corvallis, finishing work on his civil engineering degree. He also plans to stay busy lifting weights, conditioning, and running routes and catching passes.

He said he might even look up a couple of quarterbacks, Oregon's Kellen Clemens and Linfield's Brett Elliott, and see if they might be available to throw him some passes. Clemens was drafted by the New York Jets, and Elliott signed as a free agent with the San Diego Chargers.

"I don't know," said Hass, looking ahead to the July 27 start of Saints training camp at Millsaps College in Jackson, Miss. "I'm sure I'll find somebody to throw the ball to me."

http://www.oregonlive.com/sports/ore...l=7&thispage=1

Jim Beseda: 503-221-8380; jimbeseda@news.oregonian.com. To read his OSU blog, go to www.oregonlive.com/weblogs/beaversoregonian

©2006 The Oregonian
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Old 05-21-2006, 12:04 PM   #2
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good read

good Hebert summary-
"Honestly, right now, on this team, I know Hass has got the best hands," Hebert said.
What is the receiver position about first and foremeost?

I forgot about Riley there too. Good pro style background for Hass.

If the numbers get loosened up I think he should have 46, Abramowicz's old number. Incredibly similar IMO.
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Old 05-21-2006, 03:24 PM   #3
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I think maybe Payton is trying to put Reggie Bush at too many different positions -

"Coach Payton was like, 'Real quick, who do you like more? Hass or . . .' I forgot the other guy,' " Bush said. "I was like, 'Well, I played against Hass, and I know what a great player he is. The guy just makes plays all the time. He's not the biggest, strongest, fastest guy, but he just continues to make plays, and there's a reason why he won the Biletnikoff. I like Hass.'

"And then Coach Henshaw said something about the other guy."

A few minutes later, the Saints picked Hass.

"I don't want to say I was the reason they drafted him, because ultimately it was their decision," Bush said. "But Coach Payton asked me, and I told him what I thought."
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Old 05-21-2006, 08:54 PM   #4
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Hebert said Hass reminds him a little of former Saints receiver Eric Martin, and more of Fred Biletnikoff -- only with short hair and minus the stick'um.
I won't say another word about Hass til we see him in pads, but my favorite Saints QB ever even agrees with me and several others.
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Old 05-22-2006, 04:34 AM   #5
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Good Read!
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