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Defense dominates Saints' Black and Gold scrimmage

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; METAIRIE, La. -- Jimmy Wilkerson scooped up a fumble near midfield and rumbled down the sideline, leaving behind any anxiety about the pace of his comeback from left knee surgery. "That's something that I've been worried about throughout practice, but ...

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Old 08-07-2010, 06:58 PM   #1
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METAIRIE, La. -- Jimmy Wilkerson scooped up a fumble near midfield and rumbled down the sideline, leaving behind any anxiety about the pace of his comeback from left knee surgery.

"That's something that I've been worried about throughout practice, but today during the scrimmage, I didn't worry about it too much, as you could see when I picked up that fumble," said Wilkerson, who nearly scored on the play during the New Orleans Saints' annual Black and Gold scrimmage Saturday.


"I ran not even thinking about: OK, if I get tackled, is my knee going to start hurting again or am I going to tweak it?"

Wilkerson is a new addition -- a potentially significant one -- to a defense that seemed to get the best of Sean Payton's vaunted offense.

The defense racked up six sacks -- one by Wilkerson -- broke up numerous passes, forced a fumble and left Super Bowl-winning quarterback Drew Brees angrily muttering to himself on the sideline after a string of incompletions.

"We should score every time we touch the ball, and we didn't do that today. That's frustrating," said Brees, who was 6-of-16 passing for 110 yards. "Obviously, our defense is playing very well. ... They did today what everybody's used to seeing, at least from last year -- playing fast, there's a lot of pressure, I think rallying to the ball very quickly and creating turnovers. That's what our defense really thrived on last year."

Early on, Brees had the offense looking more like the unit that has led the NFL in yardage three of the past four seasons. He hit his first four passes for 64 yards, including a 40-yard heave down the sideline to Marques Colston. That set up Reggie Bush's 6-yard touchdown run.

After that, the defense took control, forcing Brees into six consecutive incompletions and not allowing another score for the rest of the scrimmage.

Although tackling quarterbacks wasn't allowed, getting a hand on them or forcing a scramble in which the passer's escape looked unlikely drew a whistle from a team of NFL officials who were visiting camp as part of their annual trips to discuss rule updates with coaches and players.

Will Smith was credited with a sack on reserve quarterback Patrick Ramsey after powering past offensive lineman Tim Duckworth. Junior Galette was credited with a sack on Chase Daniel, new defensive end Alex Brown got to Ramsey, linebacker Troy Evans got to Daniel on a blitz, Wilkerson sacked rookie Sean Canfield, and cornerback Leigh Torrence was the first of several players to force a whistle as the pocket collapsed on Brees.

Linebacker Jonathan Vilma forced the lone fumble of the game when he stripped rookie tight end Jimmy Graham of the ball after a short pass, setting up Wilkerson's long fumble return.

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Wilkerson tore his anterior cruciate ligament late last season against the Saints, while he was playing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Wilkerson then became a free agent and joined the Saints, who hoped his versatility would give them depth at both end and tackle.

During training camp, coaches have been sitting Wilkerson out of practice every other day as he continues his comeback.

"The day-on, day-off deal has been very good. It's helped me out tremendously," Wilkerson said, noting that he hasn't had swelling in the knee. "When I take that second practice off, I know I can go the next day, full pads and being with those guys as far as full contact."

The scrimmage was open to fans who packed the team's training fields and sweltered in more than 90-degree heat. They watched intently as Ramsey and Daniel sought to differentiate themselves in their competition to back up Brees.

Ramsey, a former first-round draft pick out of Tulane, took some snaps with the first team and had the most completions of any quarterback, going 9 of 16 for 72 yards. Daniel was 4 of 6 for 32 yards, and Canfield was 5 of 7 for 31 yards.

Notes: The Saints held starting LB Scott Shanle (strained left knee) out of the scrimmage, but Payton expects him to return before Thursday's preseason opener at New England. Rookie CB Patrick Robinson (hamstring) and veteran WR Rod Harper (hip) also sat out. ... The Saints' kickoff team opened the scrimmage with the same onside kick play -- called ambush -- that it used against the Indianapolis Colts to open the second half of the Super Bowl. The Saints' return team was even more fooled than the Colts. Roman Harper, working with the kickoff team, was able to make an uncontested recovery. Payton said that's how the play was designed to work in the Super Bowl, when the ball instead deflected off a Colts player, and Chris Reis recovered it in a mad scramble. ... Colston, who started training camp on the physically unable to perform list, had little trouble performing in the scrimmage, finishing with four catches for 73 yards. ... The Saints have Sunday off before traveling to Washington, D.C., on Monday to meet President Barack Obama at the White House and visit wounded soldiers at Walter Reed Medical Center. The Saints will then continue north to New England, where they and the Patriots will hold joint practices before they meet in a preseason opener Thursday.


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Old 08-07-2010, 10:51 PM   #2
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Re: Defense dominates Saints' Black and Gold scrimmage

It's been 9 years since we had 40 sacks as a team. I have a good feeling we're finally going to reach that mark again this year. 2 years into Williams' defense... we're going to wreck havoc in the backfield.
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Old 08-07-2010, 10:54 PM   #3
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Re: Defense dominates Saints' Black and Gold scrimmage

This is a good thing.
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Old 08-08-2010, 05:44 AM   #4
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Re: Defense dominates Saints' Black and Gold scrimmage

Man, the defense has really cracked down the past couple of weeks. Everytime i've seen a practice report it always starts with the defense dominates yet again, i'm so excited to see our D get out on the field. I'm expecting a report soon to say that the offense couldn't be stopped, because drew has such a great work ethic he and the offense will make sure they step their game up.
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