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tiggerpolice 05-22-2005 12:20 AM

Saints cornerback Fakhir Brown
 
Saints cornerback Fakhir Brown held out of the first week of the team's voluntary coaching sessions, which could wind up costing him the starting job he won midway through last season.

Brown, a seven-year veteran, was the only unexcused absence when the Saints started 3 1/2 weeks of coaching sessions on May 16. The series of 14 practices in helmets and shorts runs through June 8 and leads up to the team's veteran minicamp, which is scheduled for June 10-12.

While they're "voluntary," players under contract are expected to participate. Brown became a holdout when his agent, Ted Marchibroda Jr., confirmed that he wants a new contract and is planning on boycotting the workouts until a new deal is done.

With four practices already in the books as of Thursday, Brown still hadn't attended. He and weak-side linebacker Derrick Rodgers, who continues to rehab after offseason back surgery, are the only veterans who missed the first practices.

Brown, who is entering the final year of a two-year contract he signed last spring, is scheduled to earn a base salary of $540,000 this season.

When he signed the contract, he was a reserve behind starters Ashley Ambrose and Fred Thomas. But Brown played his way into the starting lineup at mid-season and is now the starter opposite Mike McKenzie.

Brown was a regular participant in the club's offseason conditioning program that began in late March, Saints coach Haslett said. He said Brown did not alert teammates or coaches that he would be absent.

At first, Haslett said he hoped Brown forgot that the coaching sessions were to begin last week because Brown's conditioning workouts were scheduled for Tuesday through Thursday. But then he didn't show up the next day.

"He's never expressed to us that he wants a new deal or that he's out because of his contract," General Manager Mickey Loomis said. "It's news to me. All we know is that he didn't show up."

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