Talman, O line, Media, McAfee, etc...
Updated: Aug. 3, 2005, 8:06 PM ET
Gardner emerging from Saints
National Football League News Wire-AP
NEW ORLEANS -- There's been much talk around training camp about the competition for third receiver behind Joe Horn and Donte' Stallworth, with much of the focus on former LSU standout Devery Henderson and free-agent acquisition Az-Zahir Hakim.
But in the past few practices, Talmon Gardner, a third-year pro out of Florida State, has injected his name into the mix. The 6-foot-1, 210-pound receiver has shown good speed and steady hands, hauling in nearly every ball within his reach.
"He has been outstanding in this camp," Haslett said Wednesday afternoon. "He might be our best receiver out there right now as far as catching the ball. He hasn't dropped one ball yet in eight practices. He's running great routes, and he's tough as nails. There are going to be some tough decisions there, because right now he is probably our best receiver."
Although the always popular Michael Lewis will be relied upon primarily for punt and kick returns, he also has excelled in practices with the receivers, demonstrating improving sure-handedness and even stretching to grab throws in traffic or along the sidelines.
It all means Henderson, now in his second pro season, won't have anything given to him easily.
Henderson "has all the talent in the world, but we just have to keep getting on him," Haslett said. "He's got great speed. He just has to keep working on the ball skills, but he has picked it up here the last couple of days."
LINE WORK: With the additions of veteran Jermane Mayberry and top draft pick Jammal Brown, the New Orleans Saints expect to have their best offensive line in years.
Running back Deuce McAllister was not yet ready to apply that label six days into training camp, however.
"It's going to take time. There's going to be an adjustment period, but I think it'll be fine," McAllister said.
The Saints' defensive line, anchored by Darren Howard and Charles Grant, has not made it easy on their offensive counterparts, regularly stuffing running plays and forcing rushed throws from the quarterbacks. And although coaches continue to be highly complimentary of Brown, he has yet to start blasting open the kind of holes that would allow McAllister to hit the defensive backfield at full speed.
"He's kind of making mistakes," McAllister said. "He doesn't know the ins and outs of everything yet -- about the offense and about the NFL -- so you just take it all in stride.
"He's going to continue to learn," McAllister said. "He's been willing to learn and listen, so that's the first step and you hope he'll continue to do that."
COACH SPEAK: While some coaches such as New England's Bill Belichick and Miami's Nick Saban keep assistant coaches off limits to the media, Saints coach Jim Haslett has never enforced such a rule. By contrast, he often allows his offensive and defensive coordinators to be spokesmen for their respective units.
"If you hire somebody and you trust them enough, and they're loyal enough to you, then you don't have to worry about what they say to the media," Haslett said.
COMFORT ZONE: Veteran Fred McAfee, 36, says the only players in NFL training camp who don't monitor the roster are people in the starting lineup.
McAfee is one of five running backs on the training camp roster, along with Deuce McAllister, Aaron Stecker, Antowain Smith and Keith Joseph.
"Let me tell you what, if you're not one of the first 22, you're looking at that stuff," McAfee said. "I don't care what you say. I don't care if you're in the league two years or you've been in the league 12 years. ... I'm not saying I'm down there looking at the roster or anything like that. But it runs through your mind every once in a while."
HELPING HAND: After winning a pair of Super Bowl rings with New England and nine years experience as an NFL running back, there's one thing Antowain Smith still does not have -- a sense of entitlement.
After practice earlier this week, Smith lugged a cluster of teammates' pads from the field back to the locker room -- a job generally given to rookies.
"I'm just helping my boys out," Smith said. "We're not superstars. I'm not too big to carry my teammates' pads in. I was the first one through, so I picked them up. That's what it's all about."
OUT: Defensive end Willie Whitehead (turf toe) and linebacker James Allen (sore left knee) were out of pads but did some running. Colby Bockwoldt missed practice for an entirely different reason. His first baby, Rees Cecelia, was born Wednesday, so Bockwoldt was excused to be with his wife, Ashley.
i don't know about the rest of you, but the defense is sounding awfully impressive at the line and especially up the field. i have not heard this kind of talk on the defensive side for a long time........
with qb's to recievers to running backs not getting it going in practice, it's got to be a little more than talk..........
i know we have to get the offense firing on all 8, but it seems the defense is stepping up......
what if we do take up where we left off last yr? smitty
Additional info from Times-Picayune - Aug 4...
....The coach must have jinxed him. Gardner had his first rough practice Wednesday night, dropping several passes.
The Saints, like most NFL teams, typically keep no more than five receivers active. With Joe Horn, DontÃƒÂƒÃ‚Â¨ Stallworth and Michael Lewis in the fold, that leaves only two spots for Hakim, Henderson and Gardner.
Gardner, 6 feet 1 and 210 pounds, gives the Saints a different look because of his size and strength. He has limited experience, having caught four passes for 52 yards in his career. But he has proven his worth on special teams.
Gardner was active for 11 games last season, and Henderson was active once, because Gardner outperformed the rookie on special teams.
"I keep fighting, coming to work every day and trying to prove that I can be in that (No. 3 receiver) spot, too," said Gardner, who knows that special teams is his ticket into the lineup. "I feel like I'm more of a special teams player, and I'm taking the third receiver spot as a bonus."
Gardner said it's funny, because before he joined the Saints he had never tackled anyone in his life. But he said Haslett explained to him as a rookie that fourth and fifth receivers need to contribute in other ways to get in the game.
Gardner, a seventh-round draft pick out of Florida State in 2003, said his college coach, Bobby Bowden, told him the same thing.
"(Bowden) was telling the truth. He has a lot of wisdom," said Gardner, who has also been learning from veterans such as Steve Gleason and Fred McAfee, who have carved out NFL careers on special teams.
BOUNCING BACK: Haslett said Wednesday morning's practice was much better than a frustrating Tuesday session. "I think it's a credit to our players more than anything," he said. "A couple of players came up to me yesterday and said, 'Don't worry, we'll take care of this.' I think it's important to them, and I know the way we practiced yesterday bothered the veterans."
INJURY UPDATE: Linebacker Courtney Watson returned to practice Wednesday after straining his quadriceps a day earlier. Linebacker James Allen, meanwhile, continued to rest a twisted knee that has held him out of all but one practice since Saturday.
ISOM RELEASED: The Saints released second-year fullback Jasen Isom, who bothered by a recurring Achilles injury.
IT'S A GIRL: Linebacker Colby Bockwoldt's wife Ashley gave birth to their first child Wednesday. The baby girl, named Rees Cecelia, weighed 7 pounds, 9 ounces.
I've been rooting for this guy ever since he was at Florida State. Trust me on this... he has more talent than both Coles and Boldin. He just never put it all together... hopefully this is the year he does and contributes to our team. I'd love for him to secure the number 3 spot.
... are you kidding? More talent than Anquan Boldin? Surely you jest....
More talent than Boldin may be a bit of a stretch. Yes. But Talman is a talent. It took him a while to get cranked up at Florida State. You never know...
Not knocking you, by any means, papz. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. :wink:
I wish nothing but the best for Talman. You go boy!
He doesn't have more talent that Coles or Boldin, IMO, but he is talented. I've wondered why he hasn't gotten going here. He was all-ACC or something at FSU. I hope he comes around b/c he could be real good.
If you remember, Boldin was a QB turned receiver in college. He stunk as a qb and couldn't catch as a WR... but had a great workout and it tremendously improved his draft stock. We are talking about a 6'1 4.4 guy in Talman. Gardner's character issues made him a unattractive player in that year's draft.
Boldin worked hard to make himself into a very good NFL player. He was slow and couldn't catch a lick in college... if Talman had Boldin's desire and drive, he'd be better than Boldin IMO.
All I'm saying is that Boldin has better physical tools right now than Gardner. Further, hasn't Boldin, even with injuries, been the most productive of any WR in NFL history over his first couple of seasons? I think the guy could, might not be, but could, end up being a top 3 or maybe top 5 WR in the nfl. There's no way Talman Gardner is going to be that good.
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