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tiggerpolice 05-30-2005 07:38 PM

The Saints have lauded second-year receiver Devery Henderson for his work this offseason and hope he can win the No. 3 spot behind Joe Horn and Donte' Stallworth. But they're also taking steps to provide insurance in case the former LSU speedster can't handle the jump. The club actively pursued Troy Brown in free agency and recently signed veteran Nate Poole to compete with Henderson, Michael Lewis and Talman Gardner for the Nos. 3 and 4 spots. The club could add another veteran to the mix after June 1 cuts. . . .

The Saints are keeping their fingers crossed that linebacker Cie Grant can stay healthy. Grant has missed most of his first two seasons because of a chronic condition in his left knee that causes constant pain and swelling. The club has switched Grant from the middle to weak side to reduce the wear and tear on the joint. Grant will compete with veterans Derrick Rodgers and Levar Fisher for a back-up spot behind starter Colby Bockwoldt. When healthy, Saints coaches say Grant is as instinctive and athletic a linebacker as there is on the roster. He could be the wild card in a crowded group of 14 linebackers on the roster. . . .

Tight end Boo Williams needs a strong training camp to maintain his roster spot. The offseason addition of Shad Meier and the improvement of reserve Zachary Hilton mean Williams needs to start to fulfill the vast potential he showed two years ago. With veteran Ernie Conwell likely assured of a roster spot and blocking specialist Lamont Hall returning, Williams could be in jeopardy of being cut if he doesn't improve his mental approach, maturity and consistency this fall.

SCOUTING REPORT: Center LeCharles Bentley is the anchor of the offensive line. He initially struggled with the switch to center last season but gained comfort as the season progressed. The powerful 6-2, 317-pound Bentley is an anomaly in an era of smaller, more athletic centers. He dominates at the point of attack and plays with a nasty streak. He needs to improve his deep snaps, which were an adventure early last season. He also needs to continue to develop his leadership skills at the position. A two-time Pro Bowler at guard, Bentley should return to Hawaii this season at his new position.

INSIDE DISH: Eyebrows were raised around league personnel departments when Saints area scouts Tim Heffelfinger, Mark Sadowski and Andy Weidl bolted for other jobs after the draft. All were offered two-year contracts to stay with the Saints but chose to leave for similar positions with new clubs: Heffelfinger (Patriots); Sadowski (Bears); and Weidl (Ravens). Saints officials wanted to shake things up in the personnel department, but it's doubtful they wanted this much turnover. Word around the league is the trio unhappy with the leadership of director of player personnel Rick Mueller and director of college scouting Rick Reiprish.

CORNERBACKS ANALYSIS: GRADE B Mike McKenzie and Fakhir Brown might be the most underrated starting tandem in the league. Reserves Jason Craft and Fred Thomas are solid.

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