Hakim Injury, TE's, Allen, etc...
Hakim out for a week or so
8/8/2005, 3:01 p.m. CT
The Associated Press
METAIRIE, La. (AP) ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â€Â Saints wide receiver Az-Zahir Hakim's hamstring injury is not considered serious, but it does provide an opportunity to young receivers Devery Henderson and Talman Gardner.
Hakim, an eight-year veteran signed as insurance in case neither Henderson nor Gardner is ready to handle the No. 3 position, sustained the injury in an intra-squad scrimmage Saturday night.
The team returned to practice Monday morning without Hakim, who coach Jim Haslett said could be sidelined for a week or so. He's expected to miss the preseason opener against Seattle on Friday in the Superdome.
In Hakim's absence, Henderson, a second-round draft choice from LSU who didn't catch a pass as a rookie last season, took Hakim's place behind starters Joe Horn and Donte Stallworth.
Gardner has caught just four passes in two seasons, but has been a contributor on special teams. Haslett said last week that Gardner was having the best camp of all the receivers.
New Orleans is looking for a replacement for Jerome Pathon, who was not offered a contract after last season and later signed with the Seahawks.
END COMPETITION TIGHT: Another injury is creating opportunities among the tight ends. Shad Meier, signed as an unrestricted free agent from Tennessee in the off-season, underwent arthroscopic knee surgery last Tuesday and is expected miss one to three weeks.
Ernie Conwell, a 10-year veteran, is the entrenched starter, but five other players, including Meier, are competing for the other two or three roster spots.
Meier was No. 2, but that position now belongs to Zach Hilton, who has been around for two seasons without catching a pass, former starter Boo Williams, blocking specialist Lamont Hall and former Cardinal Mike Banks.
"I think he has really improved his blocking," Haslett said of Hilton. "He could always run and catch, but that's something we've kind of stressed over the last couple years. He's gotten a lot stronger."
Linebacker James Allen's injured knee does not seem to be improving. Allen sprained his left knee on the first day of practice, July 29. He sat out two days and returned for one practice and has been sidelined for the last week.
"I'm frustrated with it and I know he is," Haslett said. "It's one of those deals where there is no swelling and there is nothing on the MRI. There's really no indication that there is a problem, but obviously there is because that's just the way he feels. We have to find out what's going on."
Sedrick Hodge is filling in for Allen as the starting strongside linebacker. Starting weakside linebacker Colby Bockwoldt can also play strongside.
Cornerback Jason Craft, who missed the scrimmage Saturday because he had the flu and an ear infection, returned to practice Monday morning.
The Saints practiced Monday night in the Superdome to get reacquainted with the surroundings in preparation for Friday's game.
Haslett said Kliff Kingsbury, signed as a free agent last season, and rookie No. 5 draft choice Adrian McPherson are taking turns as the third quarterback in an even competition to see who backs up starters Aaron Brooks and No. 2 Todd Bouman.
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