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this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; Saints Team Report Jeff Duncan / Sporting News Report Rookie LBs Courtney Watson and Colby Bockwoldt have been among the most impressive newcomers. Watson has picked up the defense quickly and has shown a good nose for the ball. He'll ...

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Old 05-24-2004, 04:29 PM   #1
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Saints Team Report

Saints Team Report

Jeff Duncan / Sporting News Report


Rookie LBs Courtney Watson and Colby Bockwoldt have been among the most impressive newcomers. Watson has picked up the defense quickly and has shown a good nose for the ball. He'll compete with Orlando Ruff and Cie Grant for the starting spot inside. Bockwoldt, who will play on the weak side, is smart and extremely fast. But he needs to add weight and strength. . . .



Second-year DT Johnathan Sullivan continues to struggle with conditioning and weight problems. Publicly, team officials are backing him. Privately, they're concerned. Sullivan's improvement is critical to the success of the defense.


SAFETIES ANALYSIS


FS Tebucky Jones was a major disappointment in his first season with the team. He didn't make many plays and struggled to make tackles because he went for the highlight-reel hit instead of using proper technique. The staff remains high on him because of his tremendous athletic ability and good attitude. SS Jay Bellamy is solid but struggles to make plays in space. He will be pushed by Mel Mitchell, who was expected to start in 2003 before suffering a season-ending knee injury. Mitchell is a promising athlete with good size (6-1, 220) and speed. Deveron Harper is the top backup at free safety. He doesn't do anything spectacularly, but he's reliable. Steve Gleason can play either safety spot, but he's more of an undersized linebacker and special teams standout.



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Old 05-24-2004, 06:04 PM   #2
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Saints Team Report

Buccaneers’ McCardell lacks leverage in contract dispute

Tampa Bay

Sources have described WR Keenan McCardell’s recent refusal to attend the Bucs’ voluntary workout sessions as a shot across the bow that was supposed to be a signal to the team that he isn’t happy about his contract. But they also say that McCardell isn’t really in a position to push the team on his current contract status. He still is under contract with the team for two more years to the tune of $2.5 million in 2004 and $2.75 million in 2005, and the fact that he’s 34 years old doesn’t make a lucrative long-term deal likely. Considering that the Buccaneers already are stocked at wide receiver with Joe Jurevicius, Joey Galloway and rookie Michael Clayton, McCardell doesn’t have a lot of leverage in this case. We’re told the Bucs already were talking to McCardell about reworking his deal to a certain extent, but McCardell is looking to get roughly $5 million up front in a new deal, which is overly optimistic in the eyes of the team.

Past Tampa Bay WWHI >

Atlanta

One of the biggest additions to the Falcons this offseason may not come in the form of a player, but rather a coach. No, not new head coach Jim Mora, but OL coach Alex Gibbs, who made a name for himself as the man who guided the Broncos’ line during Terrell Davis’ heyday. Gibbs loves to take a group of no-name players and turn them into one cohesive unit, and we’re told that process already has begun in Atlanta. We hear the Falcons’ offensive line worked better together in limited workouts during the team’s minicamp than it did at any time last season, and that fact has RBs Warrick Dunn and T.J. Duckett excited about the upcoming season. But there also has been speculation that Gibbs’ intensity might quickly become a problem. He has shown a tendency to burn out in the past, and Gibbs has been as focused as ever in his short time with the Falcons. There is a fear that at his current rate, Gibbs won’t last more than two or three seasons before it is time for him to take another break from coaching.

Past Atlanta WWHI >

Carolina

Panthers LB Mark Fields is confident he will be healthy enough to return to the starting lineup come Week One. Even if Fields does not start that soon, insiders say his presence will mean a lot to the defense. Fields missed all of last season after being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease last August, but he is expected to return to the practice field in June. Team observers say that Fields was one of the Panthers’ best players on either side of the ball in 2002, and his return should provide the vocal leadership that was missing at times during last year’s run to the Super Bowl. MLB Dan Morgan is well-respected in the locker room despite his injury history, but he isn’t a rah-rah guy who can get people pumped. Fields is exactly that type of player, and just his presence in the locker room or on the sideline should give the defense more energy. The Panthers are prepared to ease Fields back into the lineup partly because of the signings of veterans Brandon Short and Jessie Armstead as insurance policies. Should Fields return as the player he was prior to his fight with cancer, the Panthers should feature one of the fastest LB corps in the NFL with Fields, Morgan and Will Witherspoon.

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New Orleans

For all the excitement that is surrounding the Saints these days, two players — S Mel Mitchell and TE Ernie Conwell — seem to be the forgotten men. Mitchell went down during the preseason last year with a torn anterior cruciate ligament, opening the door for veteran Jay Bellamy to return to the starting lineup and enjoy the best season of his career. Conwell, meanwhile, suffered an ankle injury midway through the season that provided Boo Williams the opportunity to shine. Although both will have to battle their way back into the starting lineup, the fact that they will provide quality depth could make them keys to the Saints’ success. Mitchell is a big hitter who has great speed and is hungry to prove the team’s faith in him is justified, while Conwell will give the Saints another capable tight end who can do damage both as a receiver and a run blocker. We’re told head coach Jim Haslett will bring both players along slowly in training camp, but he is counting on them to be major factors in the team’s game plan before the season is out.

http://www.profootballweekly.com/PFW...?mode=nfcsouth

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