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pakowitz 05-05-2003 01:26 AM

Bellamy accepts backup role

Sunday May 04, 2003

By Brian Allee-Walsh
Staff writer

Saints backup safety Jay Bellamy appears to have accepted his offseason demotion in a mature manner, vowing to be a productive player in whatever role he plays.

Second-year pro Mel Mitchell opened minicamp as the team's starting strong safety, supplanting Bellamy, who has started all 32 games since signing as a free agent with the Saints from Seattle in 2001.

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Saints coach Jim Haslett and defensive coordinator Rick Venturi are hoping Bellamy can adjust to his new role and continue to be a positive influence.

"They sat down with me and explained that they had Mel and they were going to give him a shot and see how it works," Bellamy said Saturday. "That's all you can ask for, for coaches to sit down and tell you the situation instead of something busting off in your face.

"So you have to respect that. At the same time, they have to respect me because I'm going to come out here and work and show them that I'm trying to get my job back."

Bellamy entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent with the Seahawks in 1994 and did not start until the second half of the 1997 season.

Bellamy, 30, has started the past 87 regular-season games, for Seattle and New Orleans, since 1997.

"If I'm with the second group, the third group, whatever, I've got to make 'em all count," Bellamy said. "But this is not about me winning my job back. It's about me going out and performing. I'll leave all that other stuff to the people upstairs. That's basically how I've handled my whole career. I'm going to go out and play hard, and rally up all the younger guys around me, and we're going to get it right."

Bellamy said he is prepared to deal with a lesser role. "I know what being a teammate is all about. First of all it's about being a man, and second of all it's about going out and competing. Everything will take care of itself.

"If I can help this team out in some other ways, special teams, I'll just flip the switch and try to go out and dominate on special teams. That's my attitude. That's always been me."

'B' DOESN'T STING: Saints rookie tackle/guard Jon Stinchcomb, the team's No. 2 pick, graduated from Georgia with a major in microbiology/pre-medicine and a minor in religion. He had a 3.71 grade-point average. His first non-A grade -- ever -- came in his sophomore year at Georgia.

"It came in differential calculus," Stinchcomb said. "My goal was never not to make a B, it was always to do my best. I was not ashamed of that B in the least."

Stinchcomb said his first days as a pro made differential calculus seem like a breeze. "I'm at the bottom of the learning curve right now," he said. "You're going up against the best in your sport. To think you're going to come in here in a day and a half and master the game, I think you're going to be pretty disappointed in yourself."

BY THE NUMBERS: 10 -- Pounds lost by Saints center Kendyl Jacox after Friday morning's workout. 54 feet by 95 feet -- Measurements of the Saints' new locker room at the team's training facility off Airline Drive.

WORTH REPEATING: "In my opinion, we've taken two or three steps backward. Just say, me and Joe have taken the Saints' front office off our Christmas card list." -- agent Ralph Vitolo on the ongoing negotiations between Saints officials and wide receiver Joe Horn. Horn is boycotting minicamp and is not participating in the team's offseason program until he gets a new contract.

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