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this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; Soft-spoken Gandy brings stability at OT By LES EAST Special to The Advocate Advocate staff photo by Patrick Dennis METAIRIE -- The New Orleans Saints signed free agent Wayne Gandy to bring stability at left tackle on the offensive line. ...

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Old 08-05-2003, 07:46 AM   #1
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Gandy brings stability

Soft-spoken Gandy brings stability at OT

Special to The Advocate

Advocate staff photo by Patrick Dennis

METAIRIE -- The New Orleans Saints signed free agent Wayne Gandy to bring stability at left tackle on the offensive line.
Gandy becomes the third player to start at that position in as many seasons. Since 1995, while playing with the St. Louis Rams and the Pittsburgh Steelers he's started 127 of 128 games. The Saints also expect him to bring emotional stability to the position.

Gandy succeeds Kyle Turley, whose emotional outbursts and divisive presence in the locker room made his above-average talent expendable and led to him being traded to St. Louis in the offseason.

Last season Turley moved from right tackle to replace Willie Roaf, who had been traded to Kansas City after his previously exemplary career deteriorated during a sub-par season that featured his own locker room divisiveness in 2001.

So enter Gandy, whose reputation suggests he can match his two predecessors' talent without bringing any emotional baggage.

"I tell everybody that between Willie Roaf and Kyle they've had some of the best left tackles that have been in the game, so it wasn't a talent thing," the soft-spoken and smiling Gandy said after a training camp workout this week. "I think they were just looking for better leadership."

Gandy, 32, was lured away from the Steelers by a six-year, $26 million contract that featured a $5 million signing bonus.

"The Saints really let it be known that they wanted me down here, that they were going to do whatever it took to get me down here," Gandy said.

"They weren't just saying it in words, they were saying it at the bank. Sometimes at this level it's nice just to be wanted."

Turley made it clear he didn't want to stay in New Orleans and the feeling was mutual with the Saints, who received a No. 2 draft choice in 2004 from the Rams, for whom Gandy played five seasons and started 73 games after being their No. 1 draft choice in 1994.

The Saints emphasized to Gandy they needed the former Auburn star for his leadership skills as much as for his blocking.

"One of his better qualities is that he has outstanding veteran leadership," coach Jim Haslett said. "He knows what it takes to win in the league. He's won with St. Louis. He's a good football player. He knows what he needs around him. He will not let things get out of hand."

Whereas Turley enjoys drawing attention to himself, Gandy prefers staying in the background.

"I'm more of an in-your-ear kind of person," Gandy said. "I'm not a rah-rah guy. I'm more likely to slide up to you in your locker and take you out to eat and talk about a situation. I think sometimes that balances out because you're always going to have that hyper guy bouncing around on the sideline. But in a calmer condition I think you know I'm sincere."

Gandy and other elder statesmen are expected to show this relatively young team how to avoid the types of collapses they've experienced each of the last two seasons.

"You have to have a good blend of older veterans and younger enthusiasm," Gandy said. "At some point both of them come into play. Last year for the first seven, eight, nine games they were one of the elite teams in the league. Late in the year is when the veterans take over. Sometimes when you're 8-1 or 8-2 you think you can win two of the last six or seven and still make the playoffs. You've got to see the big picture, though.

"In this league I don't care what the coaches or anybody else tells you, it's the players who make the path. At some point the coach has said so much that you tune it out. But when you hear from someone who's actually going through it with you it rings a little louder in your ear."

Left guard Kendyl Jacox finds himself lined up next to Gandy a year after doing so next to Turley.

"If (Gandy) wants to talk to you about something, he'll pull you to the side if it's something everybody doesn't need to hear," Jacox said. "He's genuine. When he tells you something you know it's from the heart.

"Wayne is very savvy. He sees a lot of things before they ever come. We're on the same page. I have a feeling we're going to get a lot of things accomplished this year."

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