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JOESAM2002 08-10-2003 09:13 AM

Saturdays practice...

Saints News

Saints move indoors to escape heat

Sunday August 10, 2003

By Jeff Duncan
Staff writer

Grueling heat conditions forced the Saints to move practice into the indoor training facility Saturday afternoon.

Coach Jim Haslett said he was told the heat index would reach 115 degrees during the workout. At the start of the 3 p.m. practice, the heat index was around 105 degrees.

It marked the first time in 17 workouts at the home facility that the club has moved indoors because of the heat. Rain has forced the team inside three times.

About 300 members of VIP groups, who were invited visitors of the team, were allowed to view the workout, although the public was not allowed in because of space limitations.

"With what's going on around the league, we thought it was to the benefit of our football team that we don't practice in the conditions today," Haslett said. "We're down in offensive and defensive linemen and we have a lot of injuries and I'd rather not risk losing anybody."

Three members of the Jacksonville Jaguars have suffered heat-related illnesses.

FITTING IN: Guard Montrae Holland has been one of the most impressive rookies in camp. The fourth-round draft pick from Florida State has taken advantage of LeCharles Bentley's pectoral injury to accelerate his development. Holland has worked in Bentley's right guard spot with the starting offense for most of the past two weeks.

"He is going to be a really good player in this league," Haslett said. "We knew he was strong and powerful, but he's more athletic than we thought."

MONTANA UPDATE: Offensive coordinator Mike McCarthy said he still plans to schedule a visit from Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana before camp breaks Aug. 21. McCarthy, who coached on the Kansas City Chiefs' offensive staff in 1993 and 1994 when Montana was quarterback there, said he has played phone tag with Montana for the past two weeks but has not spoken with him directly.

"I still want to get it done," McCarthy said. "I just haven't been able to reach Joe to work things out."

ON THE ROAD: Most of the Saints' 12-man personnel staff, including Director of Player Personnel Rick Mueller, are on the road this weekend to scout preseason exhibition games. Scouts will attend all but a handful of the 15 games that were played in the past four days. Mueller said the scouts' main priority is to evaluate undrafted rookies and free agents from NFL Europe and other secondary leagues.

ON TARGET: Tight end Ernie Conwell is gradually regaining the form that made him a valued weapon with the St. Louis Rams for seven seasons. Conwell said he is practicing at about 85 to 90 percent full health as he works his way back from offseason surgery on his left knee.

"There are times out there that I just have to swallow my pride because I know I'm not there yet," Conwell said.

To his credit, Conwell has not missed any of the team's 20 practices. He said his goal is to be 100 percent for the regular-season opener at Seattle on Sept. 7.

ETC: Reserve defensive tackle Jovon Bush underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee and is out indefinitely, Haslett said. . . . Defensive tackle Grady Jackson missed Saturday's practice to attend the funeral of his aunt, Wanda Travis in Greensboro, Ala. He is expected to return to practice today, Haslett said. . . . Because of their seniority status, veterans Fred McAfee, Jerry Fontenot and Wayne Gandy were held out of team drills and some individual workouts Saturday.

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