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tiggerpolice 05-23-2005 09:43 AM

Conditioning work big phase for Saints during offseason
 
METAIRIE -- The New Orleans Saints are in the middle phase of their three-step offseason program.
They completed eight weeks of conditioning work May 12 and began four weeks (14 practices) of coaching sessions last Monday. That will be followed by a June 10-12 minicamp, then the team will break until returning July 29 for the start of training camp.

Strength and conditioning coach Rock Gullickson oversaw the conditioning work and said it was the most productive in the six years that he and head coach Jim Haslett have been with the team.

"This is the first year where we had eight weeks where it was just strength and conditioning work with no minicamps or coaching sessions to break up that period," Gullickson said. "I felt as a group that we went way past where we've ever been before in our strength levels and in our conditioning levels. We just had a chance to emphasize it more for a longer period of time."

Now the coaching staff is emphasizing the mental more than the physical. They have meetings and workouts without pads, trying to get the players mentally up to speed before the start of training camp.

"This is the learning aspect of football," Haslett said. "You learn and you work on your techniques. To me, that's the big thing. We got a lot of young guys out here, all our draft picks and some free agents we're trying to get up to par on what we're doing.

"A lot of the young guys will benefit from it. It's about teaching. It's about getting a start on it before you get to training camp. The young kids that come in here have nothing to do right now. They can stay all day with the coaches. They don't need to run the streets. They can look at the playbook all day. It's a great opportunity for them and they need to take advantage of it."

Only two players aren't attending. Cornerback Fakhir Brown was a surprise no-show as he seeks a new contract to replace the two-year deal he signed before last season, which calls for a base salary of $540,000 this season. Linebacker Derrick Rodgers' absence is excused because he's recovering from off-season back surgery.

"You can't ask somebody to come to it," Haslett said. "It's the offseason. They're voluntary. It's understood. I'm just glad we got the turnout that we do and that these guys are working here together."

One of the primary areas of attention is a smaller, streamlined offensive playbook. New offensive coordinator Mike Shepperd, who was quarterbacks coach the last three seasons, has condensed and simplified the playbook used by former coordinator Mike McCarthy, who left after last season to take a similar position with the San Francisco 49ers.

"The verbiage is cut down dramatically," Haslett said. "The wording's different. The philosophy of what we are trying to do is totally different. We are trying to stay out of situations where it's second and long and third and long.

"It's a little bit more learning on the players, but if you see one word instead of spelling out everybody's duties, it puts a little more on the players and takes a little bit off of the quarterback and the play calling. I think we can get out of the huddle a lot faster also."

Haslett said quarterback Aaron Brooks is the strongest he's been since hurting his throwing shoulder late in the 2002 season.

New Orleans has shuffled its offensive line, using its No. 1 draft choice on Jammal Brown, who's expected to start at right tackle. Jermane Mayberry, signed as a free agent from Philadelphia, is the new right guard and Montrae Holland moves from right guard to left, replacing Kendyl Jacox.

Center LeCharles Bentley and left tackle Wayne Gandy are the only linemen projected to start at the same positions as last season. Haslett said he still hopes Jon Stinchcomb, a former second-round draft choice who has played sparingly in two seasons, can find playing time on the line.

"I think Jon has a chance," Haslett said. "He will at least be the sixth (lineman) this year, if not a starter. We're trying to groom him to be a starter at some point. I think he's made great steps this off-season with the strength. He's benching over 500 pounds right now. I think he'll push (Gandy) for a starting job."

Haslett wouldn't divulge the weight of defensive Johnathan Sullivan, a No. 1 two years ago who has been an overweight disappointment.

"We won't weigh until minicamp," Haslett said. "He's been here working out every day. He hasn't done a lot of lifting because of his hand (cut tendon). He's going to do that pretty soon, but he is working hard.

"I think he has a commitment to try to turn it around and become a good player, but we're going to wait and see."

Former 49ers and Seattle Seahawks coach Dennis Erickson is watching the practices and will do the same during training camp, Haslett said.

WhoDat 05-23-2005 12:49 PM

RE: Conditioning work big phase for Saints during offseason
 
Quote:

He's benching over 500 pounds right now.
Holy Carp! Stinch is a monster!


TP - please, please, please, for WhoDat, post a link to a story that you take from somewhere else. Thanks.

tiggerpolice 05-23-2005 01:11 PM

RE: Conditioning work big phase for Saints during offseason
 
no problem whodat

WhoDat 05-23-2005 01:55 PM

RE: Conditioning work big phase for Saints during offseason
 
Thanks man. Forum rules and all... I try to be cool about it. Afterall, I did yell at Halo about it. But then, he's used to being treated like a stepchild. :)


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