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tiggerpolice 07-17-2005 09:33 AM

Blog & Tackle: Dog days of summer
These are the so-called dog days of summer if you're into Saints football. Other than last week's hurricane scare (our thoughts and prayers go out to those on the Gulf Coast that were beat up by Dennis), it's been relatively dead around here as far as news. The players are essentially on vacation until training camp and the coaches -- though never fully at rest -- are harder to find than at any other point of the year (no cots in their offices yet). As cornerback Mike McKenzie told me a few weeks ago before leaving town: "It's time to head for the islands and chill."

The one group working overtime right now is our sales staff. How hard are these guys (and ladies) going at it? Director of Ticket Sales Mike Stanfield and his wife had a baby girl late-Saturday/early-Sunday and he was in the office when I arrived Monday at 8 a.m. Executive Vice President of Administration Arnold Fielkow recently announced season ticket sales are at 31,000. I can confidently say everyone in our building that has a role in sales is working diligently to try and bring those numbers up.

I look at our team and can't help but be excited about the prospect of getting back into the playoffs. We're relatively young but fairly seasoned at the skill positions on offense, with Pro Bowl potential across the board. Our line has been re-made into a mauling bunch with the beefy additions of Jermane Mayberry and Jammal Brown to the right side -- add those two to a group that already includes salty center LeCharles Bentley and you have a real rough-and-tumble group. Defensively, I look at how a unit has been completely remolded with speed in mind over the last two seasons, with perhaps the NFL's best trio of ends -- Charles Grant, Darren Howard and Will Smith -- leading the way. And the aforementioned McKenzie (my favorite guy to watch last year because he just makes plays), along with newcomer Dwight Smith, give our secondary a swagger I haven't seen before. Based on comments I hear from fans, you guys are excited about our young linebacking corps ... especially second-year man Colby Bockwoldt (though I'll point to James Allen as one of the major players in last season's 4-0 run to close the season).

Many of you have e-mailed asking for more hard football news from this space. I get the e-mails, I understand where you are coming from, and your point has been duly noted. Frankly, there just isn't a whole lot going on right now on the field. Once training camp comes around, I promise to provide a few more football notes -- quite a few more football notes. But don't forget, I am just the community relations guy, not a member of the coaching or scouting staff.

Congratulations to Stanfield for the birth of his daughter, Olivia Grace, as well as to big Charles Grant, who also welcomed a new baby girl -- Gabrielle Nicole -- into the world last week. As the father of an 18-month old daughter, I can promise that good times are around the bend. Just don't expect much sleep the first few weeks.

Now when does training camp start?

--Paul Corliss

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