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newshound 06-12-2005 10:12 PM

Mini-Camp Kicks off the 2005 Football Season (McPhereson)
(Photo: Deuce gets loose! Trend may continue in Fall '05)

It’s hard to really tell how a season will turn out just by looking at the first day of mini-camp, but there were some familiar themes that kept running through everyone’s head as the Saints put on their “underwear� for the first time to kick off the ’05 season. Will this be the year that Aaron Brooks comes of age and breaks out? Will Deuce stay healthy? Has the defense improved from last season? Even though we saw some things happen today at mini-camp: players running on Airline Drive, holdouts ending, a few catches and drops- in all fairness you really can’t tell anything about players or the season from a mini-camp, but here’s the report everyone wants to read.

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On Defense

The day began with cornerback Fahkir Brown reporting to the Saints' mandatory mini-camp which is the only mandatory practice of the off-season. General Manager Mickey Loomis has said repeatedly that he will not negotiate with players who hold out from team business. Brown’s appearance says that he’s come to make a deal. Brown, projected as a starter, is the lowest paid of the cornerbacks. Although Brown was present at the mini-camp, he didn’t participate. Cornerback Mike McKenzie also did not practice, so Cornerbacks Fred Thomas and Jason Craft took most of the reps.

Craft looked the sharpest of the cornerbacks. On one play he broke on a ball thrown on a simple out pattern and intercepted the Aaron Brooks pass.

Everyone wants to know about Devery Henderson the local fan favorite from LSU. He showed up but didn’t participate in drills. Henderson is suffering from a minor injury to his hip and the buzz around was he has been suffering from a hamstring injury.

We saw Colby Buckwoldt, Courtney Watson and Cedric Hodge at Linebacker. Colby Buckwoldt has definitely gained size and should push Derrick Rodgers at weak side linebacker. Rodgers and James Allen did not participate in drills. Rodgers appears most vulnerable as his back is apparently not healed. But then again, look for this to be a battle to watch during training camp.

Johnathan Sullivan participated in drills. For everything that has been said about him during the off-season, it appears entirely up to him weather he competes with starter Howard Green, stays at second string, or makes the team at all.

On Special Teams

We didn’t see Punter Mitch Berger, but we did see #6 Punter Rodney Williams from Georgia Tech participate in most of the punting drills. Berger is the starter and even though this was a mandatory drill, does it really matter whether the punter shows or not?

Wide Receiver Donte’ Stallworth and #28 Cornerback Jimmy Williams took most of the reps as punt returner.

On Offense

(Photo: #5 QB Adrien McPhereson shows arm-strength, speed, and quickness during drills)

For a mini-camp, and considering how little it means in the "big picture," #5 Quarterback Adrian McPhereson looks like he will be one to watch in training camp and 2005. McPhereson showed quick feet and solid arm strength during drills. On one play during the 5pm drills he was rushed by #77 Defensive Tackle Rodney Leisle when he made a "Mike Vick" type football move to turn and allude the tackle, scrambling to his right in a great escape. One on-looker next to me said, “looked like Brooks during his first year.�

Starter Aaron Brooks looked like he had a poor day… but remember this is mini-camp. There were a lot of dropped balls by wide receivers and tight ends, but a few of Aarons passes were definitely pointed to the turf or just looked half-hearted. Brooks is notorious for looking good at one practice and poorly at another. Does this mean McPhereson will compete for the starting job? No way can anyone tell what will happen after seeing a NFL mini-camp.

Quarterback Todd Bouman is becoming the perennial backup. He has great arm strength but has to prove that he has skills to read defenses. He threw a great 30 yard pass reception to #14 Wide Receiver Scott Beveridge from Peru State.

Here's the best part. Runningback will be the strongest position on the team this year. Starter Deuce Mc Allister looks to be in the best shape we’ve seen him. When I asked him about how he felt coming into the season he said, “I feel great.� He darted and spun his way through the line, and shot gaps at lightning speeds. To make it worse RB Antowain Smith, acquired this offseason, looks to be a big monstrous back with good hands who plays with a different style then Deuce. Smith likes to run over people like a steam roller. Combine Smith's power running with the quickness and strength of Deuce, and the Saints may have the best one-two punch at runningback they’ve had since Deuce and Ricky Williams shared the backfield… if not better.

Quote of the day: Tight End Zach Hilton

“It gets hotter than this! What about the fall?�

“It sometimes stays hot until Christmas and you have to run the A/C.�

“You have to run the A/C at Christmas!�

Mark Clark

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(McPereson) On one play during the 5pm drills he was rushed by #77 Defensive Tackle Rodney Leisle when he made a "Mike Vick" type football move to turn and allude the tackle, scrambling to his right in a great escape. One on-looker next to me said, “looked like Brooks during his first year.�

Euphoria 06-13-2005 10:59 AM

RE: Mini-Camp Kicks off the 2005 Football Season (McPhereson
Craft, Craft, Craft

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