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this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; METAIRIE, La. --The New Orleans Saints signed defensive end Josh Cooper off the practice squad before their Week 12 matchup against the San Francisco 49ers last season simply hoping for an extra healthy body. All-Pro defensive end Will Smith had ...

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Old 06-14-2007, 06:27 AM   #1
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Josh Cooper

METAIRIE, La. --The New Orleans Saints signed defensive end Josh Cooper off the practice squad before their Week 12 matchup against the San Francisco 49ers last season simply hoping for an extra healthy body.

All-Pro defensive end Will Smith had sprained his knee the week before in a win in Atlanta. Rookie Rob Ninkovich was already out for the year with a torn ACL.

Veteran Willie Whitehead bumped into the starting lineup, but it was Cooper who made a pleasantly surprising impression on Saints coach Sean Payton.

Cooper, a former Ole Miss standout, had one sack, two tackles and a pass defense en route to the Saints' 34-10 clubbing of the 49ers in the Louisiana Superdome.

"He did kind of surprise a little bit last year, and we had confidence in him in the nickel," Payton said during the team's organized team activities. "He was able to give us some good rush snaps and helped us when we needed him to."

The 6-foot-3, 265-pound end remained on the active roster the rest of the season and throughout the playoffs. He started the final game of the regular season against Carolina and tallied six tackles.

Cooper was signed to the practice squad on Oct. 10 and he felt fortunate just to land with a pro squad.

"When my number was called, I think I came up and played pretty well," Cooper said. "I had a lot of weeks of sitting and having to study and just practicing with no games. I learned a lot in practice and it just carried over into the game."

With Smith and newly re-signed Charles Grant cemented in the starting lineup, Cooper's expectations are realistic. He knows his role is to become a solid backup ready when the two headliners need a breather and to contribute on special teams.

"He's obviously another player that will be competing at the end position," Payton said. "He's someone that's handled our scheme real well. And he's one of those players that initially kind of came in under the radar and unnoticed.

"And when we just watched and evaluated the practice, there was a confidence in the defensive staff, obviously, to give him some opportunity. So he'll be one of the guys competing at that end position. And you're always looking for your sub-rush package, and he'll be competing in that manner."

Sticking out through training camp will be a challenge for Cooper as Ninkovich has returned to the practice field completely healthy. Whitehead is also still on the roster and the Saints have signed towering rookie Jon Hamm as an undrafted free agent.

Cooper can see he's got his work cut out for him.

"You can never get too comfortable," Cooper said. "With this coaching staff not having changed and with most of the same players still here, hopefully I will be here for a while."

One attribute that might keep him with the Saints is his versatility. During OTAs, Cooper played at both end positions and moved inside to play defensive tackle. Whitehead is in a similar situation, but Cooper's youth may be on his side.

"Going out there and being able to help my team out the first time out there was great and hopefully I can do it again this year," Cooper said.


Another Ole Miss link and Coach Marion Hobby connection!

Insanity is defined as doing the same thing over, over, and over again...and expecting a different outcome!
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Old 06-14-2007, 07:15 AM   #2
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Just another of a long list of Ole Miss rebels kids that have worn the black and gold.
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Old 06-14-2007, 09:06 AM   #3
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Probably won't ever be more than a career backup DE, but he played admirably in his spot duty last year. Good depth guy if he can continue to do what he did last year for us.
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Old 06-14-2007, 09:21 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by saintsmissile View Post
As for Ole Miss, BLAH! Can't stand 'em. GEAUX TIGERS!
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Old 06-14-2007, 11:59 AM   #5
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well he did do a superb job, but we have too much talent for him to make it
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