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Saints make first cuts of season

By By Richard Dark / EMG staff writer
Aug. 26, 2003
METAIRIE, La. Today is the official first cut day in the NFL, but Jim Haslett and the New Orleans Saints took the mystery out of it by trimming the roster by 12 Monday. There weren't too many surprises except for local product Lynaris Elpheage out of Tulane.
Many thought the cornerback/special teams player would sneak into the 53-man roster or the practice squad, but the undersized Elpheage did not survive even the initial deductions.
Former Southern Miss standout wide receiver Terrill Shaw also was let go Monday. He was considered a long shot to make one of the deepest and most talented groups not only on the team, but in the entire league as well. He likely will return to the Grand Rapids, Mich., arena-league team.
The cuts happened earlier in the afternoon and none of those players were still at the facility at the afternoon practice.
The other more known name the team put out on the street was the unproductive backup running back Curtis Keaton.
In a little over a year with the club, Keaton showed a glaring weakness in picking up the team's playbook or good instincts without the football, according to the staff.
The other cuts included: CB Reggie Doster, G Shawn Draper, WR Ira Gooch, S Corey Hall, WR Terrell Harris, RB Curtis Keaton, P Mark Mariscal, T Jared Peck, FB Demetrius Smith, RB Walt Williams. The team has to clear two more spots by 3 p.m. today. Those will be LBs J.J. Jones and Curtis Holden. Haslett said the latter two, both of whom have been with the team for a couple of seasons, were the hardest to part with. By Aug. 31, the team will have to further reduce from 65 to the final 53.
Defensively speaking
After the Saints subpar defensive performance against the San Francisco 49ers, there was a general feeling of panic surrounding the team. Not from the team itself, according to Haslett. "First of all we have done an excellent against the run (3.5 average). We are doing a good job against the run. But we have to clean up some things in the passing game. In this league, if you can't stop the run, you've got some real problems, but if you're having trouble with stopping the pass, you can fix those things with schemes different things."
A bright spot
Meridian's Kenny Smith was dubbed the Player of the Game against San Francisco by the Saints radio network. Smith had four tackles and a sack and nearly had two more but was held on both. He played a right defensive end in place of Charles Grant, who is nursing an injured calf.
Look for Smith to retain that position for a few more days as the other starting end, Darren Howard, is still recovering from a bone bruise to his knee. Haslett said other injured players S Steve Gleason (shoulder) and WR Donte Stallworth (hamstring) should return to action in a few days.
This week
The team will have a full day of practices and meetings today and tomorrow before their final preseason contest this Thursday night at home against the Miami Dolphins.