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Sullivan's workload tonight..

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; Sullivan expected to get heavy workload tonight By LES EAST Special to The Advocate METAIRIE -- Johnathan Sullivan won't start for the New Orleans Saints in their preseason opener against the New York Jets at 7 p.m. today in the ...

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Old 08-13-2004, 07:56 AM   #1
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Sullivan's workload tonight..

Sullivan expected to get heavy workload tonight

Special to The Advocate

METAIRIE -- Johnathan Sullivan won't start for the New Orleans Saints in their preseason opener against the New York Jets at 7 p.m. today in the Superdome.
But he's expected to get as much playing time as anyone as the Saints try to gauge and accelerate his progress after he reported to training camp at 330 pounds, 15 more than his prescribed reporting weight.

"He's going to get worn out," defensive line coach John Pease said. "We're going to give him a chance to play and see how he's improved. (Tonight) a lot of the story will be told on John."

Pease said Sullivan, who was demoted behind former LSU tackle Howard Green after reporting overweight, will play upwards of three quarters after replacing Green.

Sullivan has lost about half of the excess weight and has put in extra work riding an exercise bike after practice. Defensive coordinator Rick Venturi said Sullivan showed improvement in the Black & Gold Scrimmage on Saturday in Hammond, the most significant preseason work before tonight's game.

"He's still struggling," Venturi said. "You're not going to build this thing in a day with that kind of weight issue because with that kind of weight issue it's hard to sustain any kind of effort. I will say this: he flashed better in the scrimmage the other night than he had been in practice, so that's a good sign. But we're clearly not out of the woods yet on that."

Sullivan faces fines if he doesn't get his weight down to 315 before the season opener against Seattle on Sept. 12.

"At this point he better get it down because we're getting close to the beginning of the season, and it's going to cost him a lot of money," Pease said. "We're closing the gap."

The two most sought-after defensive tackles in the 2003 NFL draft will be on display in tonight's game.

On the Jets side will be Dewayne Robertson, who they selected with the fourth pick overall. The Saints, who would have selected Robertson if they had had the opportunity, will counter with Sullivan, who they chose with the sixth pick after trading the No. 17 and 18 picks and swapping number twos with Arizona.

Sullivan, who left Georgia after his junior season, played in 14 games and started 13, including the final 11. He missed two games because of a knee injury. Sullivan, the only defensive tackle ever selected in the first round by New Orleans, had 38 tackles and one sack.

Robertson left Kentucky after his junior season and like Sullivan, is hoping to have some impact this season after an unspectacular but not terrible rookie season. But unlike Sullivan, his weight went down after last season.

He played at 319 pounds last season, but after losing 12 pounds during the Jets minicamps he said he expects to play between 305-310.

Robertson was thrust into the starting lineup last season when Josh Evans was suspended for violating the league's substance-abuse policy. He went to on to make 69 tackles and 1½ sacks in becoming the first Jets rookie defensive lineman to start every game since Marty Lyons in 1970.

New York, which was 28th against the run last season, plans to use several different fronts and move Robertson around on the line. He's trying to fend off Evans, who has returned and is fighting to regain his starter's position.

Sullivan didn't seem to place any significance on he and Robertson opening the preseason in the same game, or even on the preseason opener.

"It's just a chance for the team to show how it responds together," he said, adding that "it's still preseason. It's like a practice."

Pease said Sullivan has had to adjust to how he's being asked to play compared to his rookie season and his college career. This year the Saints are putting more emphasis on linemen engaging their blockers at the line and in gaps to close any holes rather than trying to beat their blockers and rush upfield.

"There are some real good signs of improvement," Pease said. "I think it will be a transition over the next three or four weeks. If he really starts to take to what we're doing, then the acceleration will start to come where his athletic ability can start to take over. It's been encouraging the last week or so and we hope it continues."

Venturi knows Brian Young will start at the other tackle position and Darren Howard and Charles Grant will start at the ends. But it's unclear whether Sullivan will supplant Green and Venturi would like to see that battle decided before the team gets into game-week preparations for the Seahawks.

"I think it's really important that he works at a higher level (tonight)," Venturi said. "Really, that tackle position may be the most important position we have to figure out here in the next three weeks and I'd like to figure it out in the next two weeks so that we're really all Seattle down the road."

Venturi was asked if he thinks it's realistic to think Sullivan can get to where he wants him to be by Sept. 12.

"I don't know," he responded. "He may or he may not. I hope so, but as a coordinator I can't say that I can count on this."

JOESAM2002 is offline  
Old 08-13-2004, 12:45 PM   #2
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Sullivan's workload tonight..

Sullivan could be the KEY to our defense this year. I\'m not buying into all the negativity I\'ve heard about him. Just like I\'m not buying into all the hype about other players.

We will get to see for ourselves how bad Sully looks tonight.

I\'ll go on record and say that I think Sully will be one of the more dominant players on defense tonight. I just have a gut feeling the coaches have been trying to push Sully\'s buttons with some of the comments about him.

We will see tonight.
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Old 08-13-2004, 04:50 PM   #3
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Sullivan's workload tonight..

Sully will come through tonite. He has improved both his attitude and weight from the beginning of training camp last year.

Coming early and staying late for practice there is no better motivation, than self motivation.

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