Saints end smooth preseason camp
By By Richard Dark / EMG staff writer
Aug. 22, 2003
METAIRIE, La. The New Orleans Saints did not actually end their final open practice of the 2003 training camp on a high note. Jim Haslett cut the sweltering morning session, which took place in front of a handful of fans, short by 45 minutes.
But Haslett strode quickly off the field after the final horn, apparently angry that several groups of players did not practice at a high level when they learned prior to the start that the session would end early.
He did not talk to the media.
The players had the opportunity to redeem themselves by finishing off camp on a strong note with a spirited and highly charged workout Thursday night in the indoor facility.
But the penultimate practice should in no way be an indicator of the way this 2003 training camp went. While the team's pundits would argue that the month-long grind has been somewhat cushy with new facilities and hotel, rather than dorm room accommodations Haslett and his staff have always been quick to say the sessions have been filled with plenty of hard work.
And a handful of players have taken advantage of the positive factors and put forth efforts that have raised the eyebrows of every onlooker here on Airline Drive. Here is a brief list of players that the majority of surrounding media agree excelled during the training camp: Cornerback Fred Thomas, CB Ashley Ambrose, Linebacker Darrin Smith, Kick Returner/Wide receiver Michael Lewis, WR Derrick Lewis, LB Derrick Rodgers, Tight End Ernie Conwell.
Nine players did not participate in Thursday morning's workout because of injuries. They were: DE Darren Howard (knee), WR Donte Stallworth (hamstring), LB Roger Knight (strained glute), DT Henry Ford (ankle), LB J.J. Jones (knee), LB Curtis Holden (knee), DT Jovon Bush (knee) and S Corey Hall (hamstring). RB Demetrius Smith did not participate, but Haslett said he was not injured.
At the conclusion of training camp, the Saints have eight players with connections to the state. They are: CB Ashley Ambrose (Miss. Valley State), WR Joe Horn (Itawamba CC), RB Deuce McAllister (Morton HS, Ole Miss), RB Fred McAfee (Philadelphia HS, MC), WR Terrrill Shaw (Jackson, USM), DT Grady Jackson (Madison), DT Kenny Smith (Meridian), CB Fred Thomas (Bruce HS, Ole Miss). Former Mississippi State standout CB Shawn Byrdsong was waived just before the start of camp.
According to team sources, Saints defensive end Charles Grant won the infamous crown of "King Ugly" at Wednesday night's annual Rookie Show that highlights the end of each training camp and is always hosted by Fred McAfee. The good-natured ribbing netted Grant the $580 pot that accumulated as a result of coaches and staffers plunking down $10 per vote.
The team will have a short, closed walk through in the indoor practice facility before leaving for San Francisco. The Saints third preseason contest will be against the 49ers Saturday at 8 p.m.
Numbers don't lie
6: The number of practices salvaged by the new indoor facility due to inclement weather, including intense heat indexes. 158.3: The highest quarterback rating that can be achieved. This was also the same number Saints reserve J.T. O'Sullivan earned in the game against the New York Jets. His overall rating after two preseason games is 143.3. He is currently in a hotly contested race for the No. 3 QB with newcomer Tory Woodbury. 86: The number of players on the Saints roster at the end of training camp. 65: The number players that will be on the roster after the first cuts take place on Aug. 25.