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Palko gets his chance at QB

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; Undrafted free agent to take majority of snaps against Bills Friday , August 10, 2007 By Benjamin Hochman JACKSON, MISS. -- Can No. 3 be No. 3? During tonight's preseason game, Saints rookie quarterback Tyler Palko will have an ideal ...

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Old 08-10-2007, 05:17 PM   #1
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Cool Palko gets his chance at QB

Undrafted free agent to take majority of snaps against Bills Friday,
August 10, 2007
By Benjamin Hochman

JACKSON, MISS. -- Can No. 3 be No. 3?
During tonight's preseason game, Saints rookie quarterback Tyler Palko will have an ideal opportunity to stake a claim for the Saints' third-string quarterback job. Palko, who wears the same No. 3 he wore for the Pittsburgh Panthers, will play the majority of tonight's game against the Buffalo Bills at the Superdome, giving Coach Sean Payton a chance to evaluate the undrafted free agent.

Quarterback Drew Brees will start and play about a quarter, Payton said, and Palko will follow, playing deep into the second half. In the Saints' first preseason game, Palko was one of four quarterbacks who played. Tonight, Payton wants to see "a body of work" from Palko, who turned 24 Thursday.

"I just want to know what I have with a player, and the only way I can do that is play him," Payton said. "I'm anxious to see his development, his progressions, his ball security, how he handles his decision-making and seeing if we can move the ball while he's in there."

In the first preseason game, Palko was 4-for-8 for 53 yards with no touchdowns and one interception.

Payton is familiar with two other Brees backups, No. 2 quarterback Jamie Martin and Jason Fife, who was primarily on the Saints' practice squad last season. The fifth quarterback in camp is Matt Baker, who signed with the team this week. With Baker not prepared to play in game situations, the Saints felt this would be a great chance to learn more about Palko.

"It's exciting, but your window of opportunity is very small," Palko said. "So you have got to make the most of it when you get your chances. . . . Here (at camp), you're kind of like an afterthought. You have to continue to have the mentality of getting reps and stealing reps -- watching Drew and Jamie, really taking from that."

Palko was a three-time captain at Pittsburgh, where he threw 66 career touchdown passes, the second most in school history behind Dan Marino.

"He's a guy who's going to come out and work hard every day," receiver Marques Colston said. "The thing I like most about him is he keeps the play alive, gets out of the pocket and gives us a chance to make plays for us."

WATERPARK-GATE: Payton and Saints players revealed some of the details from Wednesday's injury-plagued trip to a water park. Linebacker Scott Fujita was injured during an offense vs. defense relay race down the water slide, with an extra hour of curfew on the line. In trying to get down as fast as possible, Fujita collided with defensive end Charles Grant and nearly toppled off the track.

"That was a sight," tailback Deuce McAllister said, able to laugh about it a day later. "He went out the box. If Charles hadn't been there to stop him, he could have gone further."

Fujita, who missed practice Thursday while treating his bruised heel, was not available for comment.

Tight end Billy Miller, who received a gash on his forehead earlier in the day, said he made the mistake of lowering his head while going down a slide head-first. "You know what the problem was, growing up in California, you get used to ducking those waves. And for some strange reason I put my head down and smacked it on the slide," Miller said.

"I got up and was like, 'Man, I hit my head. Let's do it again.' And everybody was looking at me like, 'You're bleeding.'

"But I'm fine. I haven't practiced because I can't put the helmet on with the stitches. But I can play in a game."

Payton said Miller will play tonight. He hopes that Fujita will return to practice some time next week.

INJURY REPORT: Payton also said he hopes that center Jeff Faine, who has a strained calf, can return to practice next week. He said tackle Jammal Brown probably will miss at least another week with the knee injury he suffered Tuesday.

It is also uncertain whether defensive end Will Smith will play. He missed three practices this week to attend the funeral of his grandmother. Other players who will not play tonight include receiver David Patten (toe), receiver Jamal Jones (knee), guard Dave Yovanovits (knee), defensive tackle Brian Young (foot) and defensive end Rob Ninkovich (knee). Rookie receiver Robert Meachem, who injured his knee at practice and was noticeably limping, might not play tonight.

EXTRA POINTS: Brees was the recipient of the ninth annual Arthur S. Arkush Humanitarian Award, presented to a player whose contributions to the community and charitable organizations are especially outstanding. . . . McAllister invited 10 children who are patients at Blair E. Batson Children's Hospital in Jackson to watch Thursday's practice. . . . The Superdome will unveil a new turf tonight called Momentum 51. The entire surface area for the synthetic turf system is 121,412 square feet, and there are 1.2 trillion blades of synthetic grass.

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