this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; Nearly lost in the afterglow of the New Orleans Saints' rugged 14-9 opening victory against the Minnesota Vikings was the play of fullback Heath Evans . Michael DeMocker/The Times-PicayuneNew Orleans Saints fullback Heath Evans dives for a first down as ...
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|09-19-2010, 06:54 AM||#1|
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New Orleans Saints' Heath Evans has successful comeback
Nearly lost in the afterglow of the New Orleans Saints' rugged 14-9 opening victory against the Minnesota Vikings was the play of fullback Heath Evans.
Michael DeMocker/The Times-PicayuneNew Orleans Saints fullback Heath Evans dives for a first down as Husain Abdullah of the Minnesota Vikings makes a tackle in the season opener Sept. 9 at the Superdome.
Without exhibiting much flash or pizzazz, Evans, playing in his first regular-season game since tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee last October against the Miami Dolphins, turned in a workmanlike performance.
Although Evans didn't run the football or score a touchdown, the Saints' coaching staff was pleased with how he performed against the Vikings, especially in the second half, when his play nearly went unnoticed but was needed nonetheless.
"I thought he played pretty well the other night," Saints Coach Sean Payton said. "He did a good job especially later in the game where he was more involved. But I thought he handled his snaps well."
Almost an afterthought during the first half when he spent much of his time watching from the sideline as Payton regularly called for multiple-receiver sets, Evans finally got to contribute in the second half as the Saints used more conventional sets.
Evans, who missed the final two preseason games after playing sparingly in the first two while further rehabbing his surgically repaired knee, showed his importance to the Saints offense in that second half against the Vikings. He helped lead the way for a rushing attack that ran 22 times in the second half, after just three rushing attempts in the first.
And best of all, he had no problems with his knee.
"I feel good, " Evans said. "And that's kind of the key is you look back at the game and it's like, 'Wow, I never really thought about my knee.' So that's a good spot to be, and it's probably ahead of schedule, so that's good.
"I mean, it felt good to get out there. All preseason I had about 25 snaps, and you know, didn't get tackled, didn't catch a ball, didn't get to run. So it felt good to get out there and get hit and get knocked around and kind of do the same. So it definitely was nice being back out there with the boys."
Evans, who has decided not to wear a brace on his knee, didn't appear to be limited or slowed.
"For me the brace made me think about it, " Evans said. "And I didn't want to think about it. And my knee is strong, and they say at six months, that graft on the ACL's not going to get any stronger. So I've got the strength back, I've got the speed back, so why wear it?"
Although running back Pierre Thomas and the offensive line got much of the credit for ramming the ball through the teeth of the Vikings' defense in the second half, Evans had a critical block on Thomas' 1-yard touchdown run in the third quarter that put the Saints ahead for good at 14-9.
On a smash play through the left side of the line, Evans took out Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway in the hole at the goal line to open the space that Thomas needed to plunge into the end zone.
Later, with the Saints trying to run out the clock on their final possession, Evans showcased his versatility.
Facing a third-and-1 at the New Orleans 21, Saints quarterback Drew Brees faked a handoff to Thomas before tossing a pass to Evans in the left flat. Evans gained 7 yards on the reception, his lone statistic of the game, and helped keep the clock running as he gained a first down.
Despite limited playing time, Evans had no squabbles with his performance.
"You always look at the tape highly critical, especially after big wins, which that was, " Evans said. "I think I was pleased but never satisfied, is the best way to put it."
Evans, who played just 19 snaps, hopes to be fully entrenched in the Saints offense.
He appeared to be on his way to that last season.
In the team's first six games, the 10-year veteran provided the Saints with the multidimensional fullback they expected when they signed him as a free agent away from New England last year.
Having scored just four touchdowns in his eight seasons before joining the Saints, Evans made a quick impression on fans and coaches as he scored three touchdowns in his first six games in New Orleans, including one in which he tip-toed his way down the sideline to complete an 11-yard touchdown reception against the Philadelphia Eagles.
That success was short-lived, however.
After the injury, Evans went from being an intricate part of the team to a glorified cheerleader and motivational speaker, as he often talked with his teammates about his past experience with dealing with a Super Bowl run and pressures of attempting to run through the regular season unbeaten.
The time away from the game was miserable, even though the Saints were having unprecedented success, Evans admitted.
"You know, it's kind of like that '07 Super Bowl loss (with the Patriots), " Evans said. "I don't think you ever get over those things. And rightfully so. They teach you a lot, and I think it really enables you to offer encouragement to other people as they walk through that same type of mess."
But he's back at his familiar position now and trying to forget all about the injury last season, hoping he won't have to worry about his knee holding up for the entire season.
"I think when the bullets are flying live, like they were last Thursday night, it was easy to kind of forget about it, because there's so many other things that you've got to be detailed in your approach about, " Evans said. "So there wasn't time to think about it. And hopefully that will hold true the rest of the year."
Man, Heath Evans is awesome, he's gotta be one of the most versatile players in the game, especially at Fullback. That pass from brees in week 1 in the flats was a great play, plus he flat out nailed chad greenway on Pierre's TD.
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|09-20-2010, 04:51 PM||#5|
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He's a really great chess piece for Payton and gives the offense another dimension that was missing without him last year. He sure is a Sean Payton type of player. Hard working and dedicated to success.
|09-20-2010, 05:01 PM||#7|
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