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tiggerpolice 06-18-2005 11:15 PM

Henderson hopes to catch on
Henderson hopes to catch on

Staff Writer

Despite being a highly touted second-round draft pick, wide receiver Devery Henderson didn’t catch a pass during his rookie season with the New Orleans Saints. (MATT STAMEY/THE COURIER)

HOUMA -- He isn’t sure exactly when he knew, but he was young.

As soon as New Orleans Saints receiver Devery Henderson began racing and beating older kids in elementary school, he realized he was fast.

"Man, I was real young," Henderson said. "Growing up at home, they made me race the older kids, and I was beating them. I knew right then."

Henderson’s 4.43 speed in the 40-yard dash was one of the reasons the Saints selected the wide receiver from LSU with the 18th pick of the second round in the 2004 draft (50th overall).

But after holding out of training camp for eight days last season and later suffering a hamstring injury, Henderson was only on the active roster for one game during his rookie season.

This season, Saints coaches are optimistic about Henderson, who, behind starters Joe Horn and Donté Stallworth, will battle veterans Michael Lewis, Talman Gardner and Nate Poole for the third receiver spot.

"Devery started off, and he was doing really well until he pulled a hamstring," Saints coach Jim Haslett said. "He’s a guy that we are counting on to play this year, and I expect him to be and stay healthy and just be ready to go. He could be the No. 3 receiver."

Henderson (5-foot-11, 200 pounds) has made an effort to get stronger in the offseason.

"As soon as the season was over, he was the first guy in the weight room," Saints Director of Player Personnel Rick Mueller said. "He has added some bulk and muscle to his frame, and I’m certain that helps him. If Devery can stay healthy, his potential is unlimited."

Although Henderson, a Lafayette native who played at Opelousas High School, failed to catch a pass last season, he didn’t let that stop him from soaking up information.

"I learned a lot from the other receivers," Henderson said. "Just how to recognize defenses and shifts, stuff like that."

Playing receiver is still relatively new to Henderson, who was a running back in high school and his first two years at LSU.

He made the switch in the spring of 2002, when he began working with current Tampa Bay receiver Michael Clayton, the 15th overall pick in the 2004 draft.

Last season, Clayton put together one of the best rookie receiving seasons ever, catching 80 passes for 1,193 yards and seven touchdowns.

"We keep in touch all the time," Henderson said. "When he had a good game last year, I would call him. We wish each other the best. As much as I wanted to be out there (last season), he wanted to see me out there."

Working out last season, Henderson and Horn also grew close.

"I love Devery Henderson," Horn said. "Personally, I care for him. On the football field, I think he has a lot of the tools as a young athlete that he can bring to this game. I’m just trying to refine his tools."

In 2002, Henderson caught a 75-yard deflected touchdown pass when LSU beat Kentucky on the road as time expired.

The Associated Press named the play, known as "The Blue Grass Miracle," the college football play of the year.

But for now, Henderson’s spectacular plays will have to wait, as it’s back to the basics.

"The best thing I can do is go into training camp and make sure I stay healthy, make sure I stay in shape and make sure I do what I can do," Henderson. "I just want to help my team."

FireVenturi 06-19-2005 04:45 PM

if he catches on. imagine a 5wr set with horn,donte,hakim,devery, and lewis. too bad only one of them can consistently catch!

Euphoria 06-19-2005 11:54 PM

I don't see us in 5 WR sets this year... 4 at best.

WhoDat 06-20-2005 10:22 AM

I'll take Horn (go-to guy), Stallworth (all-around talent with big play ability), Poole (big target across the middle), and Henderson (deep threat) on 4 WR sets thank you very much. LOL

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