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Sessions' first week complete

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; Sessions' first week complete By Chris Pika NewOrleansSaints.com The Saints completed the first week of the four-week coaching sessions by getting outside on Thursday afternoon in the heat and humidity after spending the first two days in the club's indoor ...

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Old 05-25-2004, 11:46 AM   #1
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Sessions' first week complete

Sessions' first week complete

By Chris Pika
NewOrleansSaints.com

The Saints completed the first week of the four-week coaching sessions by getting outside on Thursday afternoon in the heat and humidity after spending the first two days in the club's indoor facility.


"We threw a lot at them," said Saints Coach Jim Haslett about the work completed over the first three workouts. "The players were into it and they were excited about it. We were out in the heat for the first time, since it finally stopped raining. They are enjoying the workouts, but there is a lot of competition out here."

One of the keys spots of competition is at middle linebacker where veteran Orlando Ruff, second-year player Cie Grant and 2004 draftee Courtney Watson are working.

"It's wide open," Haslett said about the position. "Orlando is the incumbent and he did a good job for us last year. We like Cie, who we drafted in the third round last year and Courtney, who we drafted in the second round this year. If one of those young guys can become our middle linebacker, we will probably slide the other one over to become the backup Will (weakside linebacker), depending on how Derrick Rodgers does. If Orlando is still the starter, we'll probably still slide one over and let them both learn."

Last season, Ruff started in 9-of-16 games and had 73 total tackles. Grant was inactive for the season's first five games due to a knee injury and played mostly on special teams in seven games, before an calf injury kept him on the sidelines over the final month. Darrin Smith started six games in the middle and three more in the strong side spot. The 12-year veteran can play at any of the three linebacker spots.


Haslett said that the competition will be interesting to watch. "I feel good about the position," he said. "I think somebody is going to emerge and it is going to be a heck of a battle in camp. It's hard to judge linebackers in the offseason, because they don't have pads on. Their forte is that they have to hit a little bit and we're not going to hit anything out here during these workouts. Cie, Courtney and Orlando are all intelligent players. I'm impressed with Courtney in the short time he's been here - he's really a smart player."

Watson said that he is still trying to get adjusted to the pace of the workouts and the amount of information he has to digest on a daily basis in the classroom. "When you install five, seven or ten defenses a day, it gets a little cloudy in your mind when you have to think," he said. "I've got so much different stuff with this team going on right now. I'm just trying to understand my place in this team and in the league. I can easily see how far I am behind the rest of the guys who've been here."

The development of linebackers takes time, according to Haslett.

"When I was coaching in Pittsburgh, Ray Lewis was the middle linebacker in Baltimore. His first year, nobody knew about him and he was a great player. His second year, we picked him as a 'need player' to the Pro Bowl and all of a sudden, he emerged from there. I don't think you grow linebackers in the street; they are self-made. When I was in Pittsburgh, we had Joey Porter, Jason Gildon, Chad Brown, Carlos Emmons and Mike Vrabel at linebacker. Those are all self-made guys and I expect someone here to emerge and be a pretty good player."

The Saints will return to the field for three workouts next week.


[Edited on 25/5/2004 by saintz08]
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