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tiggerpolice 08-16-2005 02:04 PM

Smith sees Saints contending
Smith sees Saints contending
Former Patriots RB finds similarities between N.O., N.E.
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
By Jeff Patterson
Staff writer

The new kid coming off the block made a bold statement.

Even though running back Antowain Smith has played just a few preseason snaps for the Saints, he says he can see his new club succeeding much like his old one. The way Smith sees it, the 2005 New Orleans Saints are a lot like the 2001 New England Patriots.

Let him explain.

After all, he won two Super Bowls -- one as the featured back -- while with the Patriots.

"The way I look at, nobody gave us a chance," Smith said. "Why not us? I look at us as being that same team."

In this off-Broadway production, quarterback Aaron Brooks is going to play the role of Tom Brady, Smith said. The supporting cast includes wide receiver Joe Horn starring as Troy Brown, and Deuce McAllister in Smith's role.

Smith, 33, an eight-year veteran, signed a one-year contract with the Saints during the offseason to compete for a backup role to McAllister. Three weeks into training camp, the bruising running back has proven he can play that part, Saints coach Jim Haslett said.

"He's a good guy to have on your team," Haslett said.

Smith has had two 1,000-yard seasons. In 1998, his second season with the Buffalo Bills, he rushed for 1,124 yards. When New England won its first Super Bowl in the 2001 season, Smith led the way with 1,157 yards. He rushed for 92 yards on 18 carries in his first Super Bowl.

McAllister and Smith are downhill runners who plow through the line for yardage. The other running back in the mix, Aaron Stecker, described Smith as a powerful runner who can use his feet when he has to.

"It might not look pretty, but that's the way it is," Stecker said. "Sometimes that's what you need."

Stecker is more of an outside runner.

"To help the team, you have to have good depth," he said. "(Smith is) a great addition to the team."

As a backup last season with the Tennessee Titans, Smith rushed for 509 yards and four touchdowns on 137 carries.

Whether Smith is running with the second team or the third team, as he did in Friday's preseason opener against the Seattle Seahawks at the Superdome, he doesn't care.

"It doesn't matter," Smith said. "My thing is to come in and help out."

Because of comparable running styles, Smith's main duty is to fill in for McAllister when he needs rest or if he gets injured, he said. It's just mop-up work.

"Deuce is going to have the majority of the carries anyway," Stecker said.

The talk from the Saints running backs sounds the same from player to player. It's "team first" all around. Smith and Stecker don't care who has the most carries between the two. It's about winning, something both have done.

Smith hasn't shown off his two rings.

"We still have a lot of cuts to make," Smith said. "You want to show them to the guys who are going to be on the team."

Stecker, who won a championship with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, doesn't need to see them.

"I know how it is," Stecker said. "I've got a ring. He has one more than I have, and two more than most people on this team."

Thursday will be a homecoming of sorts for Smith when the Saints travel to Foxboro, Mass., to play the Patriots. There, he'll be outnumbered in the ring department, since the Patriots have won three of the past four Super Bowls.

"It's nice to come back to a place where I won two championships," Smith said.

He would like to go to dinner with some of his pals on the Patriots. He's still tight with players such as former LSU running back Kevin Faulk and Brady.

"He's cool with everybody," Saints receiver Az-Zahir Hakim said as Smith rolled off names of former teammates.

Those three seasons in New England are loaded with positives for Smith.

"There is something about that team," Smith said. "There was camaraderie and friendship."

No wonder he's trying to duplicate it with the Saints.

ROSTER MOVE: The Saints signed offensive tackle Brandon Phillips and waived Tramissian Davis.

Phillips, 6-6, 348 pounds, played at the University of Arizona last season. He had a post-draft workout with the Saints in April.

WILLIAMS HOBBLED: Tight end Boo Williams pulled up with a strained left hamstring late in practice Monday night.

Williams sat out the rest of the workout and left the field with an ice pack on the injured area. His status for Thursday's preseason game against New England is unknown.

LAST CHANCE: The final training camp practice open to the public is today at 3 p.m. at the Saints' facility on Airline Drive.

WhoDat 08-16-2005 02:22 PM

RE: Smith sees Saints contending

"The way I look at, nobody gave us a chance," Smith said. "Why not us? I look at us as being that same team."
You might start to answer that question by looking at a guy named Bill, as compared to a guy named Jim. Or... aw forget it. You're right Antowain - there are lots of similarities, I mean, besides the one and only similarity you pointed to - both teams were thought not to have a chance. Well that's all it takes these days. Just ask Cincy.

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