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JOESAM2002 08-02-2005 08:55 AM

Camp Surveillance... Great article...
 
Forecast: Camp Surveillance

08:50 AM CDT on Tuesday, August 2, 2005


Ralph Malbrough / "The Forecast"



After being out at Saints training camp for the first four days of practice, I figured it was time to actually do something other than eat the free food the Saints give to the media. I’ve never been a fan of the media analyzing practice to the 12th degree, but the fact is most media really don’t pay attention to what happens on the field and just talk to each other until practice ends so they can interview Saints players and coaches. Granted, it’s not the most flattering portrayal of the media but I’ll say it, “There is nothing the media loves more than free food.�




New Orleans Saints

Johnathan Sullivan

So I’ve been thinking of how to do Saints practice updates that aren’t simply a rehash of some dull Haslett quotes, run of the mill ‘whoâ₠¬â„¢s hot’ and ‘play of the day’ stuff, or a list of things I see each day.


So here’s what I came up with: I’m going to try to interview as many of the new Saints players as possible and try to get a feel if they’ll have good personalities that fans will like, figure out things such as, “Will Jonathan Sullivan actual contribute something in 2005 more constructive than destroying other NFC South media buffet lines?� and try to give you information from practice that you aren’t getting from the paper, radio, and other internet sites.


The last one of those is a heck of a challenge; but hey, I like to try difficult things. This is the first installment of ‘Practice Surveillance.’ (Clever title, yes? Don’t answer that.) It will be a once a week feature until the Saints break camp. Feel free to email any questions or suggestions you have so I can try and make this camp column something you find interesting.


Sullivan’s World

So far the Georgia Bulldog has made it through all the practices and is actually approaching his college weight. He seems to not have stamina, but that could be because rapid weight loss can cause fatigue. I admit I’m no talent expert or scout; however, Sullivan seems to lack intensity at times. The real question is “does he want it enough?�


Sunday at practice I had a long talk with Mike Detillier and he said Sullivan was a guy who was very ‘sensitiveÃ¢à ‚¬â„¢ while he was in college. Translation: Sullivan didn’t respond well to the rough coaching tactics while at Georgia. Basically he’s a guy that couldn’t get things going when a coach jumped on his back.


In a way, it’s understandable because some people don’t respond well to harsh criticism. I can relate. In media, especially TV, people tend to yell a lot. When I was an intern in Baton Rouge I messed up a tape feed my first week and got screamed at in a way that would make Bobby Knight uneasy. I was 21 at the time and went into a shell for about a month. Of course, getting yelled at now doesn’t faze me. It’s called “growing up� and maybe Sullivan is doing it. He’s saying all the right things and maybe I just have that giddy early camp optimism but I think Sullivan might actually make a solid contribution against the run on first and second down.


Besides the free food at Saints camp (my lunches have included ravioli, crab cakes, and some of the best mac and cheese ever), I think my favorite thing is chatting with Mike Detillier during practice. The guy is just loaded with knowledge, facts, and opinions that make my job really cool. On Sunday some guy named Rodney Williams is punting and launches what had to be a 60-yard bomb. I was impressed and asked Mike, “Whoâ⠬™s that guy?â€? Mike—with no roster or notes—says, “He punted for the Colts for a while, then the Giants. He’ll have one punt that’s 60 yards and then the next one he’ll shank.â€? As if on cue, Williams shanks his next punt. Knowledge is power, people, and Detillier is the master.


Dwight Smith: The Anti-Tebucky Jones

The first new Saints player I caught up was safety Dwight Smith. He’s replacing Tebucky Jones, which to many Saints fans won’t be difficult, but I found out there is a lot more to Dwight Smith than that.




Associated Press

Dwight Smith loves expressing himself on the field, but is all business behind the scenes. And he isn't a big fan of Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden.

He’s a guy that the NFL should try to use as a commercial for what is good about pro football players. He’s raising his 14-year-old brother since their mom died; he’s bright, articulate, and by the way, he’s also a damn good safety.


When I asked him if having to raise his brother is an extra burden for a young NFL player, his answer was one you probably won’t hear from most professional athletes.


“We lost our mom and he never really knew his dad, so I’m really all he’s got. I take pride in doing things for him and letting him know I’ll always be there for him. I feel like everything happens for a reason. When my mom first died she was 40-years-old and I was thinking, ‘what reason could they have behind that?’ It was to teach me responsibility. It happened right before I got drafted, so it was letting me know I couldn’t just go out and do a bunch of crazy stuff with my money. I had little brothers and sisters to think about. I appreciate everything it’s done for me because it’s made me grow up a lot quicker.�


I’ll go out on a limb and say we’ll never hear statements like that from the Terrell Owens, Baron Davis’ and Randy Moss’ of the world.


The other thing that struck me about Dwight Smith is his swagger and confidence. The guy wants to be great and wants you to know it.


“Iââ‚ ¬Ã¢Â„¢ve been in the shadows the first four years in the league. A lot of things I did went unnoticed. I led the team in picks a year and that never got heard about, last year I had over a hundred tackles and never got thought about for a Pro Bowl bid. It’s exciting to get out and take on new challenges. Hopefully, if I can help get this defense where it needs to be I can get to Hawaii.â€?


Smith knows he’s can play and confidence isn’t a bad thing to him.


“Iââ‚ ¬Ã¢Â„¢ve been doing this my whole life. The Lord has blessed me to come out here and play this game and if I don’t feel like I’m the best at it there is no need to be out here. I don’t think any fan who’s paying their money to come see me play wants me to feel like the guy on the other side of the ball is better than me.â€?


I don’t know about you, but I like the fact the Saints new safety knows he’s a damn good player. This guy is expecting to make a ton of big plays and as Martha Stewart would say, “Thatâ⠬™s a good thing.â€?


Dwight is also known to enjoy trash talking, but to him, it’s about fun.


“You got to have fun because during the week it’s so business-like. There is a lot of money being made and spent in this league. You got to take your opportunities to have fun and that’s what I do by talking on the field.�


Still, after all Dwight did to impress me, the reason I might be wearing a number 26 jersey to the Dome for Saints games in 2005 is what he said about his former coach in Tampa Bay, Jon Gruden.


(As longtime readers know, I really dislike all of little Chucky’s ranting, raving theatrics and the fact a lot of the national media--like Chris Mortenson--talk as if the guy invented football.) But Dwight dropped the best quote on Gruden and the struggling Bucs I’ve ever heard.


“I got a lot of friends still out there and I call ‘em and wish ‘em the best, but when you got an ego maniac running the whole thing, it’s tough.�


Dwight Smith: good person, full of confidence, good tackler and apparently not a big Jon Gruden fan. What more could you want in a safety? By October, Tebucky and his bad tackling will seem like a distant memory.


Ralph Malbrough can be reached at ralphmalbrough@hotmail.com

maximkat 08-02-2005 10:51 AM

RE: Camp Surveillance... Great article...
 
That was an interesting read, thanks!

BoudinSandwich 08-02-2005 04:04 PM

RE: Camp Surveillance... Great article...
 
Great article. I look forward to reading more from this guy.

CheramieIII 08-02-2005 05:38 PM

RE: Camp Surveillance... Great article...
 
Thanks Joe and send me some of those damn crab cakes.

coastalkid 08-03-2005 06:14 AM

Enjoyable read. I look forward to more to come.

4saintspirit 08-03-2005 07:21 AM

Best comment of the year so far -- when I get the defense to where it needs to be then maybe I'll get to the probowl. He is taking the leadership role. AB could learn a few things from that quote -- he should be saying -- when I get the offense to where it needs to be --


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