this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; Saints first-round pick doesn't prove to be big hit in his first NFL game Monday, August 06, 2007 By Benjamin Hochman CANTON, OHIO -- The Saints' first-round draft pick was sprawled on the field, three medical trainers surrounding him. Receiver ...
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Meachem gets rude welcome
Saints first-round pick doesn't prove to be big hit in his first NFL game
Monday, August 06, 2007
By Benjamin Hochman
CANTON, OHIO -- The Saints' first-round draft pick was sprawled on the field, three medical trainers surrounding him. Receiver Robert Meachem, one play after making his first catch, received "the hardest hit of my life."
In the fourth quarter of the Saints' 20-7 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Hall of Fame Game on Sunday night, the wind was knocked out of Meachem by Pittsburgh cornerback William Gay. But after Meachem caught his breath, reality took place. He had dropped the pass, and when Meachem returned to the field later in the drive, another pass was thrown his way in traffic. He dropped that one, too.
"I have a lot of work to do," said Meachem, who played at Tennessee. "Second pass, I should have caught it. Third pass, too. I was always taught that any time you get your hands on the ball, you catch it, no matter what. I have to adjust quickly, get back to work."
Asked to describe Meachem's first game, Coach Sean Payton said: "I have to look at the tape, but there wasn't a whole lot of good going on tonight."
TWO STARTERS REST: Saints safety Roman Harper and running back Deuce McAllister, both starters, did not play.
The Saints' coaches are taking it easy with Harper, who is returning from a 2006 season-ending knee injury. McAllister is healthy, but Payton said this week he wanted to limit the wear and tear on the veteran running back.
In their places, running back Reggie Bush and safety Kevin Kaesviharn started.
The usually dazzling Bush was used cautiously -- two carries for 8 yards.
During the game, starting center Jeff Faine strained his calf.
"It was a mild pull, nothing major," Faine said.
TOUGH START: Saints cornerback Mike McKenzie was the culprit on two Steelers gains on the game's first drive.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger completed two seemingly easy passes to Cedrick Wilson, a receiver McKenzie was defensing.
On a 55-yarder, Wilson unleashed some fancy stutter steps, which helped him break loose from McKenzie. The Steelers scored on their first drive, a 4-yard rush by Najeh Davenport, who got the start ahead of injured Willie Parker.
SEIZING OPPORTUNITIES: Jason Fife, the Saints' third-string quarterback, looked sharper than backup Jamie Martin, leading a scoring drive on his first drive -- the opening possession of the second half.
Fife scattered the field with short passes, and finished the drive 5-of-7 for 45 yards. He capped it with a 1-yard pass to Kevin Dudley, and with 7:06 remaining in the third quarter, the Saints made the score 17-7.
But on Fife's next series, the Saints punted.
SILVER LINING: The Saints' defense allowed three scores in the first half, but also had three sacks.
Linebacker Mark Simoneau and defensive end Will Smith got back-to-back sacks, and the Steelers' Jeff Reed missed a 42-yard field-goal attempt.
On the Steelers' next possession, Saints defensive lineman Josh Cooper got a sack.
SAINTS VISIT HALL: The Saints took a private tour of the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday.
Payton said his favorite part of the tour was the room with the bronzed sculpted busts of the Hall of Famers.
Said linebacker Scott Fujita: "To me, that's the most powerful room in the building."
Fujita, like so many of his teammates, has a proud appreciation for the game's history. Growing up, he was a huge fan of Ronnie Lott of the 49ers, now a Hall of Famer. Fujita also has gotten to know Bears legend Dick Butkus, which Fujita said has been an honor. At the Hall of Fame, linebackers coach Joe Vitt got his players together to get a photo in front of Butkus' bust, as well as that of Lawrence Taylor.
"It was a special moment," Fujita said.
Said Faine: "It was real cool to be there with my teammates, share the experience with them. It's an appreciation. A lot of these guys had an opportunity to appreciate the guys who laid the groundwork to make the NFL what it is today."
BROTHERLY LOVE?: The Goodwin brothers were on opposite sides of the field Sunday.
The Saints had center Jonathan Goodwin, and Harold Goodwin was the Steelers' quality control coach on offense.
Martin played the majority of the first half, finishing 3-of-8 for 26 yards.