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Tag:New Orleans Saints
Posted on: May 3, 2011 2:35 pm
 

37 Saints join workouts organized by Brees

Posted by Will Brinson

With the once-lifted lockout now in place until the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals rules -- likely coming later this week -- players are back in limbo. But the would-be rudderless ship of one team, the New Orleans Saints, has some pretty good direction, with 37 players participating in voluntary workouts organized by quarterback Drew Brees.

"We would all be working out somewhere anyway, so why not do it together," Brees said. "I feel like this is putting us way ahead of other teams by having it so organized."

He's right -- it's pretty obvious that when it comes to the 2011 season, teams will probably be split into tiers when it comes to an advantage out of the starting gate.

There will be one tier of teams that worked out together, frequently, who will be ahead of everyone else. There's another tier of teams who remain "loosely organized" but don't have a firm workout plan in place. And there'll probably be a tier of teams that don't do a whole lot of organizing.

Yes, it seems safe to say that you can figure out which will be which based on a) leadership and b) organizational structure. (Think "Saints vs. Bengals," basically.)

That being said, if people aren't at these workouts won't be looked at in a bad way by the rest of the team.
NFL Labor

"I don't blame them if they're not here," said Brees, who is one of the plaintiffs in the players' lawsuit against the NFL. "We have no injury protection (as we would) if we were at the facility.

"You take a risk by being here."

Indeed it is a risk -- anyone that suffered a season-ending injury practicing when the league is locked out won't be subject to a lot of the perks they'd have were this a "normal" year.

But at some point, it should be normal in the NFL again, and those players will want to have the biggest possible advantage ... without causing any long-term damage to the roster.

"This is about getting guys back in, getting guys in the flow," Brees said. "We'll escalate it at some point to routes.

"There will be absolutely no contact. The point is to get guys together as a team."

Don't sleep on one more unintended -- or perhaps not? -- effect of these workouts: by bringing the players on the Saints together, Brees is also ensuring that, in a time of labor strife and factions-in-waiting, his troops remain unified.

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Posted on: April 30, 2011 12:55 pm
Edited on: April 30, 2011 12:56 pm
 

Cam Jordan tries to ignore labor situation

C. Jordan will be OK during the lockout (US Presswire). Posted by Josh Katzowitz

NEW YORK – There were times when Saints DE Cameron Jordan’s father, Steve – a 12-year NFL veteran himself who was around for two work stoppages in his career – would try to explain the current labor situation to his son.

Steve would talk and explain, and eventually, Cam would have to excuse himself.

“My dad is trying to throw his advice in there, and it makes my head hurt and I’d rather not deal with it,” said Cam Jordan, taken at No. 24 by the Saints in Thursday’s first round. “I thought it was solved, but it’s not. I’d said, ‘OK? I’m just going to bench press and go run some 40s. All I can focus on is training. That’s what I know is going to be there for sure.”

When I asked Jordan on Friday if he had followed the labor dispute, the lockout was not in effect. Then, a few hours later as I was transcribing his quotes, the lockout had been reinstated. Except that it was an incorrect report, and the lockout actually was NOT on. Now as I write this post, the NFL actually is closed again. 

It’s a confusing time for those of us who follow the NFL, but it’s absolute chaos for this year’s draft picks. In past years, you’re drafted, you travel to your new team to visit the facilities and meet the coaches and front office, you participate in a news conference, and you ready yourself to begin rookie camp (and then OTAs and then mini-camps, etc.).

This year, though, everything changes in the time it takes for a judge to sign an order. The NFL is not open right now, but the lockout might be lifted by this time next week.

“I look at it like this: football will resume eventually,” Cam Jordan said. “Whether that’s today, next week or whenever the court is done with this process, all I can do is keep training. It’s definitely a little murky right now.”

So, how are the new draft picks supposed to act?

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“It’s kind of tough, because it’s a situation of limbo that shouldn’t be a situation of limbo,” said Seahawks G Chester Pitts. “The lockout was lifted Monday, so the doors should have been open Tuesday. It’s one of those things where the NFL wasn’t prepared for that to come down the pike so quickly. For the young guys, my advice is to continue to stay in shape. It’ll be easy to be ready. When they come in, there’s nothing that’s going to be expected of them to flow right in. It won’t be that difficult.”

Perhaps, but many of these new players will need the money that comes from signing bonuses and paychecks. Jordan doesn’t have to worry about that scenario, though.

“All I can say is, ‘Thanks dad.’ I come from a pretty solid support system, anchored by my mother and father,” he said. “So I’ll be OK.”

You mean because your parents are footing your Bills?

“So,” Jordan said with a big smile, “you understood that.”

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Posted on: April 29, 2011 1:23 am
Edited on: April 29, 2011 3:17 am
 

First-round NFL Draft winners and losers

Posted by Will Brinson



WINNERS
Cam Newton: Not like it was a surprise to see him go No. 1 overall or anything, but now he gets his wish, and gets to become an entertainer and an icon in a city that needs reviving.

Von Miller: Everyone knew he could go high, but it was still surprising seeing him at No. 2. It's a great deal for both sides and he could be really dangerous in John Fox's scheme. He's produced a few good linebackers in his day.

Cleveland Browns: Holy freaking haul, Batman. The Browns could have really used a field-stretching wide receiver like Julio Jones (and Colt McCoy wanted one), but maybe Atlanta knew that, and it's why they gave up FIVE picks for the rights to grab Jones.

Nick Fairley: He fell, as everyone predicted. But as almost no one predicted (except Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News) he fell to the Lions. Which means unless he's traded, he'll never see a double team in his life playing next to Ndamukong Suh.

New Orleans Saints: Like the aggressiveness to come back and get Mark Ingram. Adios, Reggie Bush.

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Detroit Lions: See above. They needed a cornerback, but my goodness their defensive line is going to be absolutely ridiculous. Jim Schwartz can coach Fairley up and Suh can mentor him.

Indianapolis Colts: Bill Polian didn't have to do any magic. All he had to do was sit back and wait and let the tackle he needs to protect Peyton Manning's final years fall on down.

LOSERS:
Houston Texans: I can definitely see why they like JJ Watt. He's quite good. But Prince Amakamura was on the board and the Texans secondary makes swiss cheese look opaque. How they decided to pass on him is beyond me.

Carolina Panthers: Newton's either a home run or a total bust. There's no in-between with him. And that makes the pick difficult.

Atlanta Falcons: They gave up way too much in order to jump up and get Julio Jones. He's not a quarterback who changes every play with his presence, even though he'll help.

Minnesota Vikings: They drafted Christian Ponder ... because he helps them now? And they did it at the 12-spot?

Tennessee Titans: Jake Locker was a reach. Plain and simple.

Carson Palmer: Bluff. Called. (For now at least -- Andy Dalton in the second could change that.)

San Francisco 49ers: Unless they are actually trading for Kevin Kolb, anyway.

Da'Quan Bowers: Unless he magically got drafted and I missed that.

Chicago Bears: Just for causing the Ravens to miss their pick. For shame, Jerry Angelo.
Posted on: April 29, 2011 12:55 am
 

Reggie Bush: 'It's been fun New Orleans'

Posted by Will Brinson

NEW YORK -- It wasn't long after the Saints traded back into the first round that they drafted Mark Ingram. And it wasn't long after the Saints drafting Mark Ingram that Reggie Bush let the world know about his future.

In a not-so-cryptic tweet, Bush seemed to say peace out -- literally -- to the Big Easy.

"It's been fun New Orleans," Bush tweeted shortly before midnight EST on Thursday.

He also added an emoticon (you might know them as "the stupid smilies that my co-workers won't stop sending in emails") that was two fingers extended, aka "peace out."

To sum up: it seems like the Saints and Bush will be parting ways before the 2012 season. That seemed inevitable, barring Bush taking less money, but perhaps the ability to acquire Mark Ingram could mean that New Orleans won't have to even worry about paying Bush's potentially exorbitant salary.
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The odd thing, though, is that Mark Ingram isn't a replacement for Reggie Bush. Because, um, Ingram's a running back. Like a real one.

That's not dogging Bush, really; he's just not a feature back. And he's lucky that he actually landed in a situation where a coach could manage to utilize his talents, because otherwise he might be in the big-time bust talk.

But the Saints won a title with Bush on the roster, so that's probably out of the question.

Given his statement on Thursday, there doesn't seem to be any question that if the Saints get Super again that they won't have Bush celebrating with the rest of the team.

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Posted on: April 28, 2011 4:01 pm
 

NFL wins in StarCaps case

Posted by Andy Benoit

A court in Minnesota ruled in favor of the NFL on Wednesday. Too bad it wasn’t for the case the owners care most about.

Remember the StarCaps case? Well, league spokesman Greg Aiello announced Thursday on Pro Football Talk Live that the “the Minnesota Supreme Court has just issued this morning an order denying a review of the appeals court decision that went in favor of the league. The result is the case is over and we, the NFL, prevailed in the case.”

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Thus, Vikings defensive tackles Pat Williams (a free agent) and Kevin Williams, as well as Saints defensive end Will Smith, will have to finally serve that four-game suspension they’ve been fighting since 2008.

The whole incident came about after several players tested positive in ’08 for bumetanide, a banned diuretic that was in the StarCaps weight loss supplement but not listed as an ingredient. The players said they shouldn’t be suspended for unknowingly taking the substance. The NFL essentially said rules are rules, and the rules state that the player is solely responsible for what goes into his body. The Minnesota Supreme Court said the NFL was right.

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Posted on: April 27, 2011 9:11 am
Edited on: April 28, 2011 11:57 am
 

Ranking the NFL's 32 final draft decision makers

Posted by Andy Benoit

There are many ways a person could rank the top draft decision makers for each NFL team. Among those criteria: team history of success; number of first-rounders who have panned out; the number of late-round gems discovered; consistency of the players developed within the organization.

But without a scientific formula, sometimes the best rankings can derive from a standard eyeball/smell/gut test. Thus, here is a ranking of all 32 “final draft decision makers” in the NFL.

Lists like these tend to attract criticism and rebuttals. Have at it -- this is meant to be a discussion starter.

1. Bill Polian, ColtsB. Polian (US Presswire0
Sticks unwaverlingly to his formula: invest in a small handful of elite skill position players on offense and playmakers on defense, and then surround them with low cost youngsters who fit your scheme. In the 2000s he led the Indianapolis Colts to a Super Bowl win and annual division titles. In the '90s he ushered in the most successful expansion franchise in NFL history (Carolina Panthers) and oversaw the four-time AFC Champion Buffalo Bills.

2. Kevin Colbert, Steelers
Doesn't get much attention because A) he rarely does interviews; B) the Steelers are often drafting late in the first round and C) he's almost always looking two or three years ahead when drafting players, which minimizes the hype of Pittsburgh's rookie class. These methods have brought in guys like LaMarr Woodley, Troy Polamalu, Lawrence Timmons, Mike Wallace and Maurkice Pouncey to name five.

3. Ted Thompson, Packers
It took major intestinal fortitude to pull the trigger on Aaron Rodgers when Brett Favre was still on the roster and many believed the 2005 Packers were in position to "win now." Virtually the entire Packers Super Bowl roster this past year was comprised of players who were drafted by the organization and in their prime. That's perfect planning paying off.

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4. Bill Belichick, Patriots
The best trader of picks the NFL has seen since Jimmy Johnson. Like an alchemist, he regularly turns one late first-round selection into two or three solid contributors who fit the Patriots' ever-changing system.

5. Mickey Loomis, Saints
Is batting about .750 with his high-round draft picks, and has managed to snag several small-school gems in middle to late rounds (See: Jahri Evans, Marques Colston, Jimmy Graham, who was primarily a basketball player at Miami).

6. Ozzie Newsome, Ravens
Simply has a knack for connecting on stars. His latest include Haloti Ngata, Terrell Suggs, Ray Rice and (maybe) Michael Oher and Joe Flacco. Because of good mid-round drafting, depth is generally a plus for this club. The only true black eye on Newsome’s resume is the Kyle Boller pick, for which Brian Billick shares equal blame.

7. A.J. Smith, Chargers
Supposedly not the most likeable guy in the room, but that's in part because he has a gift for ruthlessly getting the most out of his resources. Part of that is replacing players a year too soon rather than a year too late.

8. Andy Reid, Eagles
Aside from Green Bay, Philadelphia is the only NFC team that has consistently drafted for the future first and the present second. Because of that, the Eagles are able to stay afloat when they do miss on a high-round pick.

9. Mike Holmgren, Browns
Jury is still out in Cleveland, obviously. But a person's track record has to count for something, right? And Holmgren's is pretty good.

10. Mike Tannenbaum, Jets
Home runs (D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Nick Mangold, Darrelle Revis -- who was a grand slam -- and possibly Mark Sanchez) outnumber strikeouts (Kellen Clemens, Vernon Gholston). Willing to be aggressive and trade up to get his guy. So far, it's worked well.

11. Jerry Reese, Giants
Has done a superb job building off the foundation that Ernie Accorsi put in place.

12. Thomas Dimitroff, FalconsT. Dimitroff (US Presswire)
Ex-New England front office executive instantly turned the rudderless post-Vick Falcons around by nailing the Matt Ryan pick. Has since retooled the offense with solid role players and upgraded the speed on defense.

13. Mark Dominik, Buccaneers
Made the bold commitment for the Bucs to get younger on both sides of the ball. Already, those young players have turned out a 10-6 record, putting the team a year or two ahead of schedule. The decision to draft Josh Freeman one day could lead to a Lombardi Trophy.

14. Marty Hurney, Panthers
For the most part, Panthers have been consistently competitive for 10 years despite the absence of a star quarterback. How? Solid offensive line (Jordan Gross and Ryan Kalil were successful high draft picks), good running game (DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart were two more successful high picks) and a staunch defense (Jon Beason has more than lived up to first-round billing).

15. Scott Pioli, Chiefs
Was an integral part of the Patriots dynasty and is showing a knack for finding players who fit the Chiefs’ scheme.

16. Billy Devaney, Rams
Has not been at the helm long; will soar up this list if his 2011 draft class turns out to be anything like his 2010 class.

17. Mike Shanahan, Redskins
A nod to experience more than anything. Shanahan The GM has never been as good as Shanahan The Coach. But Shanahan The GM has still been around the block a time or two and knows exactly what he wants. Having Bruce Allen handle some of the technical GM duties is helpful.

18. Ken Whisenhunt/Rod Graves, Cardinals
Only one player they've taken in the first three rounds has not contributed (Cody Brown). The rest all have been part of a club that has won postseason games two of the past three seasons.

19. Jerry Angelo, Bears
Seems to have a slightly better feel for the veteran market than the rookie market, but we're nitpicking. Has done a fine job finding players who fit Lovie Smith’s Cover 2 defense. Offensively, he’s building around Jay Cutler (for whom he traded significant picks to get).

20. Mike Reinfeldt, Titans
The assumption is he occasionally has to cater to the demands of Bud Adams, which could be a challenging wrinkle to his job. Overall, has constructed a deep roster and seen a few gambles pay off (notably Chris Johnson in 2007).M. Reinfeldt (US Presswire)

21. Rick Spielman, Vikings
Too many busts early in his tenure, though some of that was beyond Minnesota's control (Kenechi Udeze's health issues, Erasmus James' injuries). While forcing a few picks into the lineup, the Vikings also have gotten their money's worth from top picks Percy Harvin, Sidney Rice and Adrian Peterson (considered a risk because of injury problems at Oklahoma).

22. Jerry Jones, Cowboys
Yes, the Cowboys have a talented group. But a bulk of that talent was acquired when Bill Parcells was around.

23. Martin Mayhew, Lions
Still waiting to see what becomes of the major investments on offense (outlook appears good but still not certain).

24. Jeff Ireland, Dolphins
Brand new in his role as top decision maker. It wouldn't be fair to judge him based on what his former boss (Parcells) did.

25. Gene Smith, Jaguars
In two years has shown willingness to rebuild in bunches by using back-to-back draft picks on the same position. In that time, not a lot has changed in Jacksonville's bottom line, though there is legitimate optimism about this franchise's direction.

26. Pete Carroll, Seahawks
It's way too early to judge. His first draft class looks like it could turn out to be spectacular at the top (Russell Okung has star traits, Earl Thomas has shown flashes and many like Walter Thurmond) but very few men have successfully worn the GM hat while coaching.

27. Trent Baalke, 49ers
The Niners' draft record during his two years as VP of Player Personnel was iffy, but he wasn't the final decision-maker then. His first draft class will likely prove to have produced long-term starters with the first four picks (Mike Iupati, Anthony Davis, Taylor Mays and NaVorro Bowman). Iupati, in fact, seems destined to be a perennial Pro Bowler.T. Baalke (US Presswire)

28. Buddy Nix, Bills
Bills are full of overachievers, but part of overachieving is not being very talented. The Aaron Maybin air ball in 2009 puts a damper on what was otherwise a solid draft class. But Nix, a national scout at the time, wasn't fully responsible for that draft class. His 2010 draft class is off to a slow start but its still in the judgment phase.

29. Rick Smith, Texans
Houston is overhauling its defensive scheme after spending five years investing first-round picks on players who were supposed to fit that scheme.

30. Mike Brown, Bengals
He would be a great fantasy drafter because he always takes the best player. Problem is, in the real draft, team chemistry needs to factor into your decisions. Those "best players" Brown takes are often available because of character red flags.

31. John Elway, Broncos
No track record to evaluate.

32. Al Davis, Raiders
One apparently solid draft (2010) does not erase years of atrocious ones.

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Posted on: April 25, 2011 4:35 pm
Edited on: April 25, 2011 7:47 pm
 

Hot Routes 4.25.11: Ocho top athlete on Twitter

Posted by Will Brinson



Got a link for the Hot Routes? Hit us up on Twitter (@CBSSportsNFL).
  • Per our friend Darren Rovell, Chad Ochocinco is the top athlete in social media. Ocho's obviously one of the most famous athletes in the world -- hell, he had his own reality show and, in possibly the single-most impressive display of popularity, is the Future Mrs. Brinson's favorite NFL player -- but it just goes to show how well he (and the gents at RockLive) have utilized the medium in order to boost his recognition.
Posted on: April 25, 2011 12:22 pm
Edited on: April 25, 2011 12:31 pm
 

Cats should take biggest gamble: Pass on Newton

Posted by Will Brinson

No less than 48 hours ago, I told a relative at Easter that I had "fully talked myself into the Panthers taking Cam Newton." That's a by-product of several things, including: a) the franchise's need for a "face" that people care about, b) the unparalleled upside that Newton represents, c) the lack of any decent quarterback on the roster and d) the need to sell tickets and get fans re-invested.

When I woke up on Monday though, I felt entirely differently, and now I'm pretty sure that the Panthers absolutely need to pass on Newton, acquire as many decent assets as they can, and focus on getting Andrew Luck in 2011. (Quite conveniently, Clark Judge is hearing they'll do just that.)

That's not saying they should "tank" -- and, disclaimer time: I'm actually a Panthers fan, so that would be kind of miserable for me. They shouldn't. No one should tank in the NFL because, unlike the NBA or MLB, things can change quickly, and teams can become successful overnight.

But have you seen Carolina's schedule? It's nuts. There are -- at most -- five winnable games on the slate in 2011, and it wouldn't matter who they had quarterbacking, as long as that person is either a rookie or a second-year Jimmy Clausen, because it's going to be a struggle.
Panthers' Problems

Obviously the Panthers get the Falcons, the Saints and the Buccaneers twice in 2011, and only an insane optimist could expect more than two wins against those three times total. Two, which is dangerously hopeful, would include a win against the Bucs at home and either a random upset of Atlanta or New Orleans, or a late-season win where one of those teams doesn't trot out their full "A-team" because their seeding decision has been settled.

Look at the rest of the schedule, and the even the most bullish fan would find a hard time arguing that, with Cam Newton and/or Jimmy Clausen at the helm, the Panthers will win five games. I mean, where are the wins? Against the Cardinals, in Arizona, during the opening week of the season? Maybe.

Week 2 against the Packers can already be ruled out, as can Week 12 against the Colts in Indy and the Week 15 matchup against the Texans in Houston; all of those teams have too much offense for the Panthers to compete. So let's say they lose those three games and go 1-5 in the division.

That leaves a home matchup against Jacksonville in Week 3, a trip to Chicago in Week 4, a home matchup against the Redskins in Week 7 followed by the Vikings coming to town in Week 8, a Week 10, post-bye matchup against the Titans in Charlotte and a trip to Detroit in Week 11. Winning three of those games, based on the success that the 2010 team had, would be considered a tremendous success. That's a 4-12 record for the season, a miserable year, and a learning experience with regard to whether Jimmy Clausen can be the future of the franchise (my answer is no, but Marty Hurney apparently still wants to find out).
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It's also probably good enough to land them the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, which will net them Andrew Luck of Stanford, unless he decides he really loves graduate school.

And yes, I understand that this is a game of chicken that no NFL front office can reasonably play; it predicates itself on thinking that your team will be awful, and that's not a mindset you see in the NFL. But the schedule is what the schedule is, and then there's this: everyone in this draft is pulling trigger on a quarterback.

Most folks believe that there's a chance six -- SIX! -- quarterbacks could be gone as early as the first round. If six of the 10 (or so) teams that are truly desperate for quarterback help take a first-rounder, there's a pretty good chance that they won't even be looking for Luck come next year, significantly improving the Panthers chance that they would wind up with the most coveted option in the 2011 draft, even if they didn't finish with the worst record. (For instance, if the Bills draft Blaine Gabbert or Cam Newton third overall and finish 2-14, are they taking Luck? They can't.

And that should be the scariest fact for Hurney and new coach Ron Rivera when they start looking at their options for the coming season: even if they do take Newton, they could finish with the worst record in the NFL (in fact, one could argue drafting Newton improves their chances ...) and be faced with a decision on having to draft their third straight franchise quarterback. That's something that isn't even considered an option. Even if Luck was there, Carolina would have to think defense, which would be a shame.

Look, landing Luck vis-a-vis the No. 1 overall pick next year is far from a guarantee. But the odds of it happening for Carolina are at least as good, if not better, than hitting a home run with Cam Newton.
 
 
 
 
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