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tiggerpolice 08-18-2005 07:41 AM

Right at home Alfred Fincher
 
Right at home
By Adam Kurkjian / Daily News Staff
Thursday, August 18, 2005

Norwood's Alfred Fincher has endured his share of hazing as a rookie linebacker for the New Orleans Saints.

"Oh, man! Last night I had to take the all the linebackers out to dinner on me," said Fincher by phone last night after the Saints reached their hotel in preparation for tonight's preseason game against the Patriots (Ch. 25, 8 p.m.) at Gillette Stadium.

"I had to buy Popeyes for everybody today. I have to carry everyone's pads in from practice."

Don't get him wrong, though. The 6-foot-1, 238-pound Fincher is having a ball.

"It's just crazy to me. I'm not your typical guy," said the 22-year-old Fincher, the Saints' third-round pick (82nd overall) out of UConn, where he was an All-Big East selection as a senior.

"I feel more like a fan than a professional athlete. It's real exciting to be in all these situations."

But his situation tonight will be as an opposing player, facing the team that was his favorite until, well, draft day.

Fincher estimates that 50-to-100 family and friends will be in Foxboro tonight to cheer him on, because that's how many came to see him play when UConn squared off against Boston College at Alumni Stadium.

Still, he believes this will be quite a step up.

"This is a lot different, this is the highest level, the professional level, with greater athletes, and the spotlight is on you so much more," said Fincher, who's listed at No. 2 on the depth chart at middle linebacker behind Courtney Watson, a second-year pro out of Notre Dame.

"But with me just being from New England, it makes it that much greater. But I'm sure after the first couple plays it will all be the same."

Leading up to this week's game, watching film of the Patriots did not have quite the same feel as it did before.

"Yeah, watching them on tape all week was kind of weird," said Fincher. "I'd be looking at the games and remember watching them as a fan, and here I am breaking them down."

His coach at Norwood High, Tom Lamb, will be unable to make the game but will watch it, tape it, and analyze the action. After all, another one of Lamb's pupils (at Natick), Doug Flutie, will see time at quarterback for the Pats.

"Alfred has a leadership ability the average guy doesn't have," said Lamb of Fincher, who was Norwood's senior class president and a captain in three sports. "He has a knack that's very special. Doug and Alfred are both very special. When (Alfred) went down to UConn I said to (head coach) Randy Edsall, 'I'll eat your hat if he's not your captain,' and he was. It'll be the same way with the Saints. Once he gets the veterans' respect, he'll be one of their leaders."

Who knows? One day, he might not even have to pay for everyone's dinner

http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/sp...ticleid=106472


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