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this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; Second-year player fills in for injured snapper, linemen Friday, August 03, 2007 By Jimmy Smith JACKSON, MISS. -- Mainly because of injuries on the defensive line, second- year player Brandon Villarreal has been getting a long look in the two-a-day ...

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Old 08-04-2007, 12:12 AM   #1
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Cool Saints take another look at Villarreal

Second-year player fills in for injured snapper, linemen

Friday, August 03, 2007
By Jimmy Smith

JACKSON, MISS. -- Mainly because of injuries on the defensive line, second-
year player Brandon Villarreal has been getting a long look in the two-a-day practices that are leading up to Sunday's exhibition opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

On Thursday morning, Villarreal was getting a long look at another position: deep snapper.

With backup snapper Rob Ninkovich, a defensive end, out for at least four weeks with a medial collateral ligament sprain in his left knee, Villarreal, a defensive tackle, was subbing for regular snapper Kevin Houser during punt team drills Thursday.

Safety Chris Reis also did some long snapping after practice. He was a deep snapper in NFL Europa.

"I did it for three years in college as the starter," Villarreal said of his days at Purdue. "Sometimes when you haven't done it in a while, you get a little rusty. There were a couple going left and right. But I did it a little last year when I was on the (Saints) practice squad.

"I feel like if I can get in there and do that, and show them that I can play on the D-line, whether it's end or tackle, whatever I can do I'm here to play football."

Villarreal went through similar experiences last summer when backup Rodney Leisle went down with a leg injury. That meant Villarreal was getting more practice reps than he thought he would. This year, he's getting more while starter Brian Young recovers from a broken foot.

"I took some reps at end a couple of days ago; I don't know that they were thinking, but I know we were short there," said Villarreal, 6 feet 2, 289 pounds. "Whatever they needed me to do, I wanted to be there for the team. I feel like I'm getting the same amount of reps, and I'm feeling pretty good right now.

"Being out here again, I know what's going on, I know what to expect, and I know how to pace my body and how to recover better. Last year I didn't do a good job of recovering between practices. It's easier this year."

CHANGES: The Saints worked out wide receiver Chris Jackson of Millsaps and offensive lineman Tim Duckworth of Auburn between practices, and both were signed Thursday afternoon.

To make room on the roster, the club cut receiver Rhema McKnight and guard Wes Sims.

The team also worked out receiver Darius Watts, a three-year NFL veteran who last played for the Giants, and offensive lineman Nick Sobic, an undrafted free agent from Harvard.

Duckworth is 6 feet 4, 318 pounds. Jackson, who was cut earlier this week by Pittsburgh, is 6-2, 205.

CUT SHORT: Thursday's afternoon practice ended at 4:53 p.m., about 45 minutes earlier than scheduled, when it appeared an electrical storm was near. There were just a few raindrops with some rumblings and lightening.

It's the first time a Saints practice in Jackson, Miss., has been curtailed by weather.

SPECIAL VISITOR: Joe Dumars, a Shreveport native and President of Basketball Operations for the Detroit Pistons, attended Thursday's afternoon practice and spoke to the team Thursday night, much the same way Dallas Mavericks Coach and New Orleans native Avery Johnson did a year ago.

"Avery did a good job," Dumars said. "He got them to the conference finals. I've got to get them farther."

Dumars, who played at McNeese State before a 15-year career with the Pistons where Detroit won two NBA championships (Dumars was the Finals MVP in 1989) said though he's a Detroit Lions season-ticket holder and has a suite in Ford Field next to Matt Millen, the Saints remain his top NFL priority, and he would speak to the players about the concept of "team."

"Once you do what they did last year," said Dumars, who said he's friends with General Manager Mickey Loomis and Coach Sean Payton, "expectations change. Perceptions change. The main thing is not to take anything for granted, that it's automatically going to happen again. The same hard work you put in last year, it's imperative you do it again this year or you won't see the same success." Under Dumars' direction, the Pistons have played in five straight conference finals and won the NBA title in 2004.

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