Saints Aints'

Friday, April 07, 2006

New Saint QB Rehabs

Much of Saints coach Sean Payton's breakfast with the media at the league meetings was spent talking about quarterback Drew Brees' surgically-repaired throwing shoulder.
Brees, the former San Diego Chargers quarterback, was signed to a six-year, $60 million contract -- including an $8 million signing bonus -- on March 15 even though he underwent surgery after being injured in the Chargers' regular-season finale on Jan. 1.
Payton barely had time to eat his breakfast on Wednesday before he was bombarded by questions about Brees' rehab, the megabucks deal and learning a new offense under Payton.
Brees' injury became big news when the Saints outbid other NFL teams to get the 27-year-old signed just two months after being operated on by Dr. James Andrews. Several teams declined to get into a bidding war for his services because of the surgery.
While he admitted that there is some uncertainty about how quickly Brees will bounce back, Payton said a lot of that will depend "on the person going through the rehab."
A lot of the doubt from outsiders comes from the fact that the injury occurred so late in the season and a seven-month recovery period leaves Brees missing, or being limited for, a good portion of training camp.
Payton, however, said the goal is for Brees to begin throwing during the team's second minicamp from June 2-4 and be "throwing 100 percent full-go" by camp, which will like open on July 27.
Brees, who has been splitting his rehab between New Orleans and Birmingham, Ala., will be at the team's first minicamp next weekend.
"I think early June," Payton said, "that camp in June is kind of a little bit of a goal for us."

Saint Legend Remembered

Former Saint QB Archie Manning passed for over 21,000 yards in his career
Saints Hall of FameManning. Say that one name to any true Saints fan, and they will know exactly who you are talking about without even having to ask.
Then, the stories and descriptions come from the memory bank. Archie Manning -- Ole Miss star quarterback, first-round pick of the Saints, numerous highlights, impossible throws and last-second comebacks are all part of the lore of the club's most-famous player.
It's been 32 years since his Saints and NFL debut in 1971, but fans remember him like he has always been part of the team. In a way, he has.
After finishing his career in Houston and Minnesota before retiring after the 1985 season, Manning stayed in New Orleans and kept the roots he put down in his rookie season with his wife, Olivia and later, his sons Peyton, Cooper and Eli. He worked on the club's radio broadcast team for 12 years and completed his 18th season of providing commentary on Saints preseason telecasts, much of the time with WWL-TV sports director Jim Henderson.
Henderson summed up why Manning is so revered in the New Orleans community. "He came to New Orleans and stayed when a lot of athletes came and went," he said. "He was one of the most-ballyhooed choices that the club has ever made in the NFL Draft. He already had a substantial following from his days at Ole Miss. He got out in public in a small city like New Orleans and fans got to know him, which went a long way. He is a classy individual who is truly a civic treasure."
His fall weekends are still full of football as he traveled to see Eli play quarterback for his old college team at Ole Miss on Saturdays. Most Sundays, Archie follows Peyton and the Indianapolis Colts.
"For a while, I would see three games during the weekend. I would see Eli play on Friday, Peyton on Saturday and announce a Saints game on Sunday," Manning said.
In between, Archie gives of his time to several causes and is a much sought-after speaker on translating the values that made him a success on the field to helping others reach goals in business and life. His downtown New Orleans office, where he works on marketing and public relations for companies mainly in the Southeast, is in the shadow of the Superdome and his family's successful Manning Passing Academy is part of the New Orleans area sports calendar each summer. He also provides a commentary to over 50 stations on the Mississippi Network.
He had a memorable start in the 1971 season opener against the L.A. Rams. The Saints trailed, 20-17 late in the game at Tulane Stadium. Needing to go 70 yards to the end zone, Manning used the two-minute offense to take the Saints to the Rams' one-yard line with three seconds left. After a timeout, Manning rolled out and found a seam in the Rams defense which got him into the end zone for the touchdown and a 24-20 victory.
Bob Roesler wrote in the next day's Times-Picayune, "Yes, America, there is a Superman. His name is Archie Manning and he wears a Saints uniform." Archie's transformation from college legend to pro hero had begun.
He was named the NFC Most Valuable Player by UPI and The Sporting News after a 1978 season in which he completed 291-of-471 passes (61.8 percent) for 3,416 yards and 17 TDs. He followed that up with 15 TD passes in 1979 and 23 in 1980.
By 1982, Manning was no longer the Saints starting quarterback and early in the season, he was dealt to Houston by Coach Bum Phillips.
"I remember how sad everyone in town was when he was traded," Henderson recalled. "When his family saw him off to Houston at the airport, you could certainly tell how much he hated to leave here."
He finished his Saints career with 1849-for-3335 passing (55.4 percent) for 21,734 yards and 115 TDs. What makes those numbers even more remarkable was that Manning spent a large part of his Saints career running with the ball as his 2,058 rushing yards, 18 rushing TDs and 340 sacks would attest to.
"We didn't see the brightest side of it football-wise and I spent a lot of time on the run," he said about his pro days. "Being a part of the Saints as a quarterback gave me one of the unique positions in town. We settled here and I got involved with organizations and charities."
What he also remembers are the guys he played with who became life-long friends. "My first best friend was Danny Abramowicz," he said. "He is a special guy who was a classic overachiever as a player. Bobby Scott and I roomed together. We went through a lot of meetings. Tommy Myers was a heck of a player. Joe Federspiel was a tough guy. Derland Moore and I are still very good friends."
One of the brightest parts of Archie's life these days is his granddaughter, May, born in December 2002 -- the child of Cooper, who is an institutional broker in New Orleans, and his wife, Ellen.
"During the holidays, football is still being played, so we don't get together as an entire family much," Manning said. "We were together twice in the last year with May's christening in April and the Passing Academy for four days in July."
He summed up his long career this way. "I worked hard every day on getting better," he said. "In my day, the offseason was not as required as it is today so I worked out hard during that time. I had some injuries, but I didn't miss a lot. I prepared, worked hard and got ready to play."

Saints Superdome Bound

A refurbished Louisiana Superdome will debut nationally when the New Orleans Saints host their traditional NFC South rival Atlanta Falcons Sept. 25 on Monday Night Football at 7:30 pm CT. The game, which will be broadcast nationally by ESPN, will be the first NFL regular season contest in the stadium since 2004. That game will kick off an eight-game home schedule for New Orleans in the Superdome.
The NFL announced the Saints' entire 2006 regular-season schedule today. The team's next home opponent is Oct. 8 vs. Tampa Bay at noon. That contest is part of a three-game homestand for New Orleans, followed by Philadelphia (Oct. 15) and Baltimore (Oct. 29 after the bye week). The Saints open the season at Cleveland (Sept. 10) for their first game at Cleveland Browns Stadium and follow with a trip to Green Bay Sept. 17.
The home opener promises to be a hard-fought contest. Atlanta leads the series 42-31 and took both contests last year, including a 34-31 thriller on a field goal as time expired on Oct. 16. Since 1990, the outcome has been decided by a touchdown or less 18 times.
Three of the Saints' first five games are against NFC South foes, including a trip to Carolina, Oct. 1. After taking on the Ravens at home, New Orleans travels to Tampa Bay (Nov. 5) and to Super Bowl XL champion Pittsburgh Steelers in the Saints' first trip to Heinz Field (Nov. 12).
The remaining home games for the Saints are as follows: vs. Cincinnati (Nov. 19), vs. San Francisco (Dec. 3), vs. Washington (Dec. 17) and the season finale against the Carolina Panthers on New Year's Eve (Dec. 31).
The club's remaining road contests include at Atlanta (Nov. 26), at Dallas (Dec. 10) and at the New York Giants (Dec. 24).
Other than the home opener, all home and away games are currently scheduled for Sundays at noon CT, though the NFL recently announced it will implement for the first time a primetime "flexible scheduling" element on Sundays in Weeks 10-15 and in Week 17. Flexible scheduling will ensure quality contests on Sunday night those weeks and give surprise teams a chance to play their way onto primetime.
The 2006 NFL schedule will list start times for all Sunday games during the "flex" weeks as noon CT, except for games played in the Mountain or Pacific Time zones, which will be listed at 3:05 pm CT or 3:15 pm CT. The NBC Sunday night time slot for "flex" weeks will list teams as "TBD." Only Sunday afternoon games are eligible to be moved. Flexible scheduling will not be applied to games airing on Thursday, Saturday or Monday nights.
The NFL has commonly moved games between Noon CT and 3:15 pm CT (eight times in 2005) on Sunday afternoons. The new practice allows the NFL to employ flexible scheduling to include one of its primetime package of games on Sunday evenings. As in the past, afternoon games can still be moved between noon and 3:05 or 3:15 pm CT. In Week 17, in order to ensure a Sunday night game with playoff implications, the decision to move the start time may be made with six days notice. CBS and FOX will each be able to protect a total of five games in the seven weeks of flexible scheduling, but not more than one game any week.
PRESEASON SCHEDULE FINALIZED: The four-game preseason schedule was also finalized on Thursday with the annoucement of game dates/times for the two road games at Tennessee (Aug. 12) and Kansas City (Aug. 31).
The Saints will open the preseason at the Titans on Saturday, Aug. 12 at 7 pm CT in The Coliseum in Nashville. Monday, Aug. 21, the Saints will host the Dallas Cowboys in Shreveport's Independence Stadium at 7 pm CT. Saturday, Aug. 26, the Saints host the Indianapolis Colts at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium in Jackson, Miss. at 6 pm CT. New Orleans will conclude the preseason with a Thursday, Aug. 31 game at the Chiefs in Kansas City's Arrowhead Stadium at 7:30 pm CT.