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Saalim Hakim could be on fast track to making impact with New Orleans Saints

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; Twelve years ago the New Orleans Saints took a chance on a speedy, but inexperienced, wide receiver/kick returner and that gamble produced one of the most improbable stories in NFL history when Michael "Beer Man" Lewis made the 2002 Pro ...

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Old 06-07-2013, 09:24 PM   #1
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Saalim Hakim could be on fast track to making impact with New Orleans Saints

Twelve years ago the New Orleans Saints took a chance on a speedy, but inexperienced, wide receiver/kick returner and that gamble produced one of the most improbable stories in NFL history when Michael "Beer Man" Lewis made the 2002 Pro Bowl.

Now they have another winged-foot wonder on the roster that arrived seemingly from out of nowhere.

Wide receiver Saalim Hakim might be the longest shot on the Saints' 89-man roster. He is without question the only player that never started a down at any level of organized football -- high school, junior college and college -- before arriving in the league.

Yet, there he was Thursday, hauling in a strike from backup quarterback Luke McCown and racing through the Saints' secondary like a deer through piney woods.

"He can run -- he can really run," Saints Coach Sean Payton said. "When a player has a redeeming quality like that ... "

Payton didn't finish his thought. He didn't have to. Anyone who's watched No. 18 race up and down the field during the Saints' offseason workouts knew exactly where Payton was going.

Even on a field of elite athletes, Hakim stands out. His powerful 5-foot-11, 188-pound frame is conspicuous in the receiver lineup, where his chiseled arms bulge from his white jersey. The vapor trail he leaves during pass routes is eye-catching.

Indeed, Hakim might be the fastest player on the Saints' roster. With Devery Henderson gone, he's easily in the top two, along with fellow receiver Joe Morgan.

"He has another gear," safety Malcolm Jenkins said. "The defensive backs learned that right away last year when he got here."

Every player on the Saints' roster has a story about how he made it to the NFL. Some are more interesting than others. Few are more incredible than Hakim's.

Despite being the younger brother of former NFL wide receiver Az-Zahir Hakim, Hakim never played a down of football until his senior season of high school. Hakim's Muslim high school in Atlanta didn't field a football team, so he starred in soccer. But his desire to play football spurred him to transfer to Palo Verde High School in Las Vegas, where played one season as a reserve running back in a double-wing offense. His total statistics: nine carries, 97 yards, two touchdowns.

From there, he landed at Palomar College in San Marcos, Calif., the alma mater of Saints Hall of Fame kicker Tom Dempsey. In two seasons, he caught 31 passes for 428 yards and six touchdowns, earning him a scholarship to Tarleton State in Stephenville, Texas, about an hour south of Fort Worth.

"He didn't have a lot of film, but knowing his pedigree, we knew he had a chance," Tarleton State Coach Cary Fowler said. "He's a phenomenal athlete, the best athlete I'll ever coach."

At Tarleton State, Hakim played one season as a reserve receiver and kick returner before bolting for the professional ranks. In 2011, he played for the Las Vegas Locomotives of the United Football League, where former Green Bay Packers second-round pick Brian Brohm was the quarterback and Jim Fassell, formerly of the New York Giants, was the head coach.

"Once he gets going, he's as fast as anyone I've ever seen on the football field," Fassell told the Dallas Morning News. "You don't find guys like him walking around the streets."

Indeed, Saalim clocked consecutive times of 4.2 seconds in the 40-yard dash at his pro day at Tarleton State last year.

"(The scouts) went back to measure the 40 (yards) to make sure they didn't make any mistakes because I ran so fast," said Hakim, a devout Muslim who prays five times daily. "I was trying to run a 4.1."

Hakim wasn't rated among 292 receiver prospects in the 2012 NFL draft by NFL Draft Scout, but several teams expressed in interest in him as a free agent, including the Saints. But he signed with Dallas, after being wooed by owner Jerry Jones and head coach Jason Garrett. A finger injury sidelined him for two weeks of training camp and the Cowboys cut him before the start of the regular season.


Several weeks passed before the St. Louis Rams signed him to their practice squad in November. The Saints signed him to their practice squad Dec. 6 after he was waived by the Rams.

In an indication of how much they valued him and to protect him from rival teams, the Saints placed Hakim on the active roster for the final two games of the regular season and signed him to a three-year contract.

"I mentioned to him during practice, 'I don't know if you can play special teams or not, but if you can play special teams then you might be able to play in this league a long time' because what that allows you to do is continue to develop the player while he is on your roster because he is still playing 18 to 20 snaps," Payton said.


The raw 23-year-old has a ways to go to make his mark at receiver. The Saints have Marques Colston and Lance Moore penciled in as starters. Behind them, a fleet of talented young receivers are waging a fierce battle for playing time and roster spots, among them Hakim, promising second-year speedster Joe Morgan, recent draft picks Nick Toon and Kenny Stills and practice squad mainstay Andy Tanner.

But Hakim's dynamic speed gives him a chance, both as a reserve receiver and on special teams as a gunner, where his speed and strength make him ideally suited for the spot.

"I'll play whatever position they want me to play -- receiver, special teams, I'll even play cornerback," Hakim said. "I'm not a picky player. I just work to work hard, listen to what the coaches tell me, do my best and try to get better."

His fate with the Saints remains to be seen.


But for now, this Hakim is doing everything he can to not drop the ball.

Saalim Hakim could be on fast track to making impact with New Orleans Saints | NOLA.com

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Old 06-08-2013, 02:11 PM   #2
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Re: Saalim Hakim could be on fast track to making impact with New Orleans Saints

Wow. We might just have another burner which we really need to open up the field. But can he catch? I know he doesn't have a lot of experience. I wonder how good his depth perception is?
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Old 06-08-2013, 05:14 PM   #3
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Re: Saalim Hakim could be on fast track to making impact with New Orleans Saints

I feel like he should make the team just as a thank you to Az-Zahir.
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Old 06-08-2013, 06:54 PM   #4
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Re: Saalim Hakim could be on fast track to making impact with New Orleans Saints

Please teach him to catch and return kickoffs because we need speed there as much as at WR.
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Old 06-08-2013, 08:35 PM   #5
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Re: Saalim Hakim could be on fast track to making impact with New Orleans Saints

beer man 2.0?
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Old 06-08-2013, 10:47 PM   #6
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Re: Saalim Hakim could be on fast track to making impact with New Orleans Saints

Win you wascely wabbit!!
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