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tiggerpolice 08-16-2005 07:21 AM

Haslett taking hard line with injured linebackers
Haslett taking hard line with injured linebackers
8/15/2005, 6:04 p.m. CT
The Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The Saints linebacking corps has been riddled with injuries this season and coach Jim Haslett is starting to think about a backup plan.

"I told them, 'In one or two weeks, we've got to figure out what to do with you guys — cut you, waive you, put you on (injured reserve) or something,'" Haslett said after practice on Monday. "We're not going like this the whole year. It's just the way it's going to be."

Those statements were aimed primarily at James Allen, Cie Grant and Roger Knight, all of whom were expected to play key roles this season.

Grant's health has been an issue since 2004, when a knee injury kept him out all season. He was having a solid training camp until Friday night's preseason opener against Seattle, when he left the game after reinjuring his left patellar tendon.

While it was not immediately clear how severe Grant's injury was, Haslett now says it appears the third-year linebacker could be "out for a while, just based on what the trainers tell me."

Allen, who started last season, entered training camp at the top of the depth chart but hasn't practiced since twisting his left just a few days after camp opened.

Knight, who also missed more than a week because of knee tenderness, was back in practice on Monday, although to a limited extent.


LSU CONNECTION:@ Members of the Saints who played for LSU are looking forward to seeing a number of former teammates when they travel to New England for Thursday night's preseason game.

Among the former LSU players on the Patriots are Randall Gay, Rohan Davey, Eric Alexander, Kevin Falk, Marquise Hill and Jarvis Green, cousin of former LSU and current Saints defensive lineman Howard Green.

Howard Green said he has followed the Patriots' recent successes and Super Bowl victories simply because so many former Tigers play for New England.

"It was exciting. They're all in the Super Bowl — playing — people I've been with three or four years and one of them all my life," Howard Green said. "It's been good. But this year, I don't want to watch it. I want to go to Detroit and play."

Other former LSU players on the Saints include receiver Devery Henderson and defensive back Fred Booker.


RETURN SPECIALISTS:@ Having returned to his native Louisiana, Jimmy Williams is showing he can help the Saints by returning kicks.

He was among the few bright spots for the Saints in their preseason opener, with 105 combined return yards on kicks and punts. Coaches also played him extensively at cornerback, where he started for San Francisco for part of last season because of injuries.

"Really, he has done a great job in camp," Haslett said of Williams. "We've got some pretty good corners, so he's fighting with the three, four, and five positions right now. He's in here to help us in that area, but also in the special teams area. He's an outstanding cover guy, and he's a good returner. ... He always gets positive yards. He knows how to run with the ball."

In 2002, Williams led the league in punt return average at 16.8 (20 returns for 336 yards). He had six returns for more than 20 yards, including one for an 89-yard touchdown.

Last season, Williams started six games and had a career-high 42 tackles with last-place San Francisco. But the 49ers did not offer him a new contract.

"He does a great job," Haslett said. "Him, Az (Hakim), and Michael Lewis and (Aaron) Stecker give us some pretty good returners on kickoffs."

While Lewis has played well at receiver in practice and was on the receiving end of the Saints' best pass play against Seattle last Friday — a 57-yard bomb from Kliff Kingsbury — Haslett wants to save Lewis primarily for kick returns.

"We try to limit Michael on some of the special teams because they do get beat up," Haslett said. "You just have to be careful about how much you use those guys. The thing is that they get tired and beat up, and all of a sudden here comes a punt that they have to return. There's a chance for a fumble. There's a greater chance for a fumble if you are playing a lot more than if you are not playing."


INJURIES:@ A number of the Saints who left Friday night's game with injuries were back in practice by Sunday or Monday, including Henderson, who sprained his right shoulder, and Booker, who strained his right hamstring. Tight end Ernie Conwell, who missed Friday's' game with a sore groin, also has returned to practice, as has linebacker Terrence Melton from a calf injury.

Offensive lineman Spencer Folau (shoulder) has returned on a limited basis.

Haslett said he hopes Hakim (hamstring) and tight end Shad Meier (knee) will return after the next preseason game at New England.

TheDeuce 08-16-2005 06:59 PM

RE: Haslett taking hard line with injured linebackers
I say we keep Allen and cut the other two wastes of space, Cie Grant is never going to be healthy and Roger Knight blows.

ScottBalot 08-16-2005 08:36 PM

RE: Haslett taking hard line with injured linebackers
It's too late to try and improve the linebacking unit. That's what you do in the offseason. The fact that this front office did nothing to address the glaring problem for the past four seasons is the one of the main reasons this franchise is no better than when Ditka/Kuharich was here. (OK, maybe that's a bit overboard). But, they completely blew the 2003 draft. Blew it. Nothing to show for it. Set the franchise back five years. Sounds eerily familiar when Ditka gave up the draft for RW. Unfortunately, it's going to take a miserable 3-13 type season for Benson to finally wake up and fire these guys.

ScottBalot 08-16-2005 11:35 PM

RE: Haslett taking hard line with injured linebackers
AB is certainly down the list as far as major problems. He's got his shortcomings, but let see how all the AB bashers react if he gets hurt and misses substantial time this season. You can bet with the lack of season ticket sales and the paltry showing at the Seattle game, Benson is finally hearing the message from the fans. Nothing less than a playoff appearance will satisfy most fans, including myself. It's a shame Benson let it get as far as he has, but ultimately, he has to blame himself, starting with the firing of Mueller, and not addressing the accountability of the 2003 draft debacle.

WhoDat 08-17-2005 09:03 AM

RE: Haslett taking hard line with injured linebackers

But how in the world did it get this bad, without the fans saying jack about it?? The past 4 years you couldn't find a NFL calibre LB on the dang roster! And all the knuckleH worry about is what AB is doing?
You must not have been around the board for the last 4 years when certain people, myself included, were losing our GD minds over their crap FA signings and draft picks. I was told over and over how ignoring LB and DT wasn't going to be a problem. Yeah.

stockman311 08-17-2005 11:16 AM

It's not as if the Saints haven't tried to improve their LB corps. They drafted Grant not knowing he would be a walking injury. They wanted DJ Williams bad in the draft last year then had to settle on Smith once Denver took him one spot before us. They offered Chad Brown a contract only to have him run to the Pats.
Hey, at least they found a diamond in the rough with Bockwoldt, and I am still reserving judgement on Watson and Fincher until I see them in action this year.
Hodge sucks and must go. Knight is a non factor bench fodder. Grant needs to be let go. Allen needs to step up like now or be let go. I think we can go with Fisher and McKinnon and Watson and Bockwoldt and Fincher.

no_cloning 08-17-2005 01:22 PM

LB may have been the position they used the most draft picks on in the last three drafts, but when you have a glaring need you should at least try to address it via free agency. We all had our lists of linebackers who would become available ready every January - and the FO was either not looking for a LB at all or looking for some under-rated reserve player.
What was - and is - needed is a veteran player, a proven playmaker.
And although this question has been asked once too often, I still haven't heard a satisfying answer to "Why has this unit been a sore spot ever since Haslett got here when your head coach was a linebacker?"

Grant's health has been an issue since 2003 (not 2004 as the article suggests) when his knee and calf injuries kept him out of games. He should be cut.
Depth is so thin that I don't know if they should cut Allen. He isn't terrible when he's healthy. Of course I don't know if his injury is serious enough to keep him from getting healthy in time to make a contribution.

stockman311 08-17-2005 01:32 PM

Re: RE: LB

Originally Posted by no_cloning
What was - and is - needed is a veteran player, a proven playmaker.

We would not be having this discussion of DJ Williams had fallen one spot to us last year.

LordOfEntropy 08-17-2005 01:43 PM

RE: Re: RE: LB
This team has passed on so many talented LB's at draft time it's caused major hair loss from my head. I never understood their reasoning, and I never will.

DJ Williams... Johathan Vilma... Derrick Johnson... oh hell, do I even need to go down the list? IMO, this team has focused far too much on wide-outs.

no_cloning 08-18-2005 10:42 AM

Re: RE: LB

Originally Posted by stockman311

Originally Posted by no_cloning
What was - and is - needed is a veteran player, a proven playmaker.

We would not be having this discussion of DJ Williams had fallen one spot to us last year.

DJ ist doing well in Denver - but then again is playing next to Al Wilson. If a whole unit is struggling, you don't look to the draft for immediate help, you need a cornerstone to build around. For me the disappointment came in free agency - piece by piecy, day by day - for others it's draft day and then it hits like a hammer.

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