ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â€ÂThe Saints suffered their first major injury of training camp on Aug. 9 when backup left tackle Jon Stinchcomb ruptured the patellar tendon in his right knee during a goal-line drill.
Stinchcomb, a third-year pro who coach Jim Haslett said had made great strides in the off-season program, went down among a pile of players on a running play. A second-round draft pick in 2003, Stinchcomb underwent surgery the next day and faces six to seven months of rehab.
"He just twisted it, he really didn't hit anybody," Haslett said of Stinchcomb, who worked to move up the depth chart after being active for only 10 games his first two seasons. "He was just coming off the ball, and I don't think he made contact with anybody at the time."
Haslett said he's confident that Stinchcomb, who was being groomed as Gandy's eventual replacement, will bounce back next season.
"I know Jon and I know what kind of guy he is," Haslett said. "He's going to work his butt off to get back and play next year, and I don't think it's going to be a problem because I know his work ethic."
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â€ÂStinchcomb's loss leaves the Saints perilously thin at tackle. Wayne Gandy, a 12-year veteran, and top draft pick Jammal Brown are the starters, but veteran backup Spencer Folau has been out for two weeks with soreness in his right shoulder.
Folau had surgery on the shoulder in late May to shave some bone and remove loose particles and has been held out of practice since the first two days of training camp. His return is uncertain.
Haslett said there aren't a lot of tackles on the open market right now. After Stinchcomb's injury, undrafted free agent Ikechuku Ndukwe was moved up to backup tackle on the left side and Ben Archibald, a member of the Saints' practice squad last season, was at right tackle.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â€ÂBackup running back Antowain Smith has two Super Bowl rings from his days with the New England Patriots, but the nine-year veteran doesn't mind helping carry in the helmets and shoulder pads of some teammates ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â€Â a job traditionally reserved for rookies in training camp.
After a recent practice held in the stifling south Louisiana heat, the 33-year-old Smith toted several sets of pads to the locker room.
"I'm just helping my boys out," he said. "We're not superstars. I'm not too big to carry my teammates' pads in. I was the first one through (post-practice drills), so I picked them up. That's what it's all about."
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â€ÂNew Orleans sports and tourism officials have their sights on the 2010 Super Bowl since December when NFL officials eliminated the city from consideration for the 2009 game.
But they're going to need some help from the Saints and the state of Louisiana to secure it. Saints officials said they have been told the league will not consider the city for another Super Bowl until the club reaches a long-term agreement with the state.
With that in mind, owner Tom Benson and Gov. Kathleen Blanco met in June to talk about a new deal between the team and state, but there's been little progress. The two may meet again later this month or in September, a Blanco spokesperson said.
"New Orleans is one of the best cities in the league to host the Super Bowl, which has been recognized by the league," Benson said in a statement. "But right now, we are not even on the radar screen to host a Super Bowl. And the league has made it clear that a long-term deal needs to be in place before we get back on the radar."
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I have to go out and correct that because I am not a guy who's going to fumble. People are not going to say `Deuce McAllister is a good player, but he puts it on the ground.'" ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â€Â RB Deuce McAllister after fumbling on his third carry in the Saints' exhibition opener against Seattle.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
BATTLE OF THE WEEK: WR Joe Horn vs. LCB Mike McKenzie ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â€Â This matchup usually draws lots of attention in practice sessions with a four-time Pro Bowl receiver going against a top cover corner. Both have won their share of the battles so far in training camp, but it's a treat for the fans who attend practice to watch them work one-on-one on pass routes. McKenzie has had an excellent training camp so far and Horn continues to amaze the coaches at the age of 33.
OTHER BATTLE FRONTS: Kendyl Jacox vs. Montrae Holland for starting LG spot ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â€Â The coaching staff continues to work both in with the first-team offense and Jacox, a starter for the last three years, continues to hold off Holland and keep his job. Holland, the starter at right guard last season, was moved to the left side when Jermane Mayberry was signed in free agency and was given the starting job at right guard. Most expected Holland to take the job from Jacox, but so far it hasn't happened. What it has created is keen competition, which the coaches love, for the starting spot.
Kliff Kingsbury vs. Adrian McPherson for the No. 3 QB spot ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â€Â They've struggled at times in practice, but they showed something in the Black & Gold Scrimmage and in the exhibition opener against Seattle. Even though that work came against the Seahawks' third-teamers, both showed the ability to move their team. On his first snap, Kingsbury lofted a deep pass that Michael Lewis ran under for a 57-yard gain and McPherson moved his team 53 yards in his only series to the Seahawks' 5 before the drive stalled.
Talman Gardner vs. Devery Henderson vs. Az-Zahir Hakim for the third WR spot ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â€Â Gardner was the first receiver in the exhibition game with the Seahawks after starters Joe Horn and Donte Stallworth, which indicates that he had a leg up on the competition. But he has an even bigger advantage now that Henderson sprained his shoulder in the loss to the Seahawks and will likely miss practice time this week. Hakim will probably be out for another week while rehabbing the hamstring injury he received in the Black & Gold Scrimmage on Aug. 6.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: CB Mike McKenzie ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â€Â After intercepting a team-high five interceptions in 11 games last season, McKenzie continues to turn heads and impress coaches in training camp. A seven-year veteran who received a new five-year, $22 million contract on the second day of practice in late July, McKenzie seems to be having fun as he runs around on even the hottest of days. He has several interceptions, has blanketed receivers and always seems to be around the ball. McKenzie even jokingly interacts with fans who attend the team's practice sessions.
ROOKIE REPORT: First-round draft pick Jammal Brown started at right tackle in the exhibition opener against Seattle and played 2 1/2 quarters. He was called for one penalty when he lined up too deep, but was impressive with his drive blocking. On one play, he drove Seahawks linebacker LeRoy Hill to the sideline about 10 yards away from the play. "Besides the penalty, he did some good things," Saints coach Jim Haslett said after the game. "I have to look at the film, but I think he did a pretty good job." . ... Strong safety Josh Bullocks, a second-round pick, had three tackles in playing with the second team. He missed a tackle on a Seahawks' touchdown, but his highlight came when he stopped quarterback Seneca Wallace on a third-and-1 play in the third quarter. ... Middle linebacker Alfred Fincher, a third-round pick, had two tackles in the exhibition opener and continues to get a lot of reps in practice. ... Quarterback Adrian McPherson, a fifth-round pick, played only one series against Seattle, but drove his team 53 yards until the drive stalled at the Seahawks' 5. He was 3-of-7 for 28 yards and also used his feet to gain 25 yards on four carries. ... Defensive tackle Jason Jefferson (sixth round) and defensive end Jimmy Verdon (seventh round) played in the second half. Verdon recorded four tackles, but he was called for defensive holding in the red zone.
INJURY REPORT: Backup LT Jon Stinchcomb will be sidelined for the entire season after rupturing the patellar tendon in his right knee during a training camp practice on Aug. 9. ... SLB James Allen has participated in only two practices because of a sprained left knee, but may try to return this week. ... G/T Spencer Folau has been sidelined since July 30 with lingering soreness in his right shoulder, which was surgically-repaired in late May. ... Backup TE Shad Meier, who had arthroscopic knee surgery on Aug. 2, ran on the side last week and could return to practice soon. ... Reserve MLB Roger Knight again missed practice time last week with a knee injury. Knight had surgery on the knee in January, a procedure in which doctors drilled holes in the knee to promote healing and regeneration of cartilage.
RE: NOTES, QUOTES
Saints won't get a 2010 bid... they can't even be considered until a new contract with state is reached.
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