July 27, 2008

Key Saints Managing Injuries Cautiously: Three young players injured on Sunday, fifth round pick Pressley done for season

Fifth round pick DeMario Pressley has taken the worst of what training camp so far. A reinjured foot fracture will end Pressley's season, the fifth round pick out of North Carolina State. The defensive tackle was projected to go higher in the draft, but for injury concerns he may have been a third or second round pick.



Pressley has been placed on injured reserve.

Also knicked were speedsters WR Devery Henderson and rookie CB Tracy Porter. Henderson and Porter both have right hamstring injuries, according to Saints head coach Sean Payton.

As is the nature of hamstring injuries, the players may fight these frustrating injuries for some time.

Henderson was able to walk off but Porter was carried to the sideline and both left for the training room.

The Saints added free agent second-year DE Marquies Gunn to replace Pressley on the 80 man roster. Gunn, 6'4, 266 pounds, spent time on the Bucanneers' practice squad last year, his rookie year out of Auburn.

The Saints re-signed TE Buck Ortega and also added rookie WR Curtis Hamilton. The Saints also released WR Carlos Robinson and LS Ryan Senser. Ortega had been with the Saints all offseason while Italian-born Hamilton out of Western Kentucky is a kick return specialist and is the all-time receptions leader his school. Hamilton originally signed with Chicago as an undrafted rookie in April.

CB Mike McKenzie (knee) and DT Brian Young (knee) did not practice on Sunday. Both veterans are treated with much care and patience, as both are expected to start on opening day. WR Todd Blythe suffered a concussion.

After taking time off and getting a precautionary MRI on his knee, RB Deuce McAllister returned to practice on Sunday. As expected, McAllister is practice at full speed every other session at most, and is experiencing some pain and swelling. The MRI was to confirm that nothing out of the ordinary was expected.

McAllister's knee swelled on the second day of practices and an MRI over the weekend showed no problems.

With Ellis out of camp, Hollis Thomas enjoying the summer heat and Young missing action, veteran Antwan Lake continues to be a silent contributor and is seeing starting time. Since 2006 Lake has been a dependable member of the rotation. Tall and a better football player than athlete, Lake actually sacked Saints QB Aaron Brooks for a safety in 2005, in what would be Brooks' final start for New Orleans, when Lake was with the Falcons. Lake figures to be a rotation man for the Saints this year, starting if necessary.

With fifth overall pick Glen Dorsey signing on Saturday and sixth overall pick Vernon Gholston the day before, seventh overall pick Sedrick Ellis should sign his Saints rookie contract shortly.

The Dorsey contract provides ballpark and structure while the Gholston contract provides a ceiling for dollar values to the Saints' front office and Eugene Parker.

The remaining three Saint draft picks are doing well. Fifth rounder Carl Nicks is working at left guard, sixth rounder Taylor Melhaff is fighting for the placekicker job with veteran Martin Gramatica, and seventh round WR Adrian Arrington is very much in the thick of competition for a spot on the depth chart. Nicks looks to be the ninth or tenth offensive lineman on the final roster and Melhaff has a stronger leg than Gramatica but less experience.

Arrington didn't play a lot of special teams at Michigan, where he started, and that will hurt his chances to win the fifth or sixth receiver job. His main competition will end up being veteran Terrance Copper, an adequate receiver in spread formations but a fantastic special teamer who has been with Sean Payton in two cities.

As for Arrington, he is showing more savvy than a seventh round pick is supposed to. The Saints gave up a sixth round pick in 2009 to get back into the seventh round of last April's draft to select Arrington.

Runningback is a position in question for the Saints, as no one knows whether Deuce McAllister will be healthy this season. The last time Deuce McAllister went down, the Saints met with and tried to un-retire RB Corey Dillon, but denied the interest in order to boost the public confidence of Reggie Bush, Aaron Stecker and Pierre Thomas.

New Patriot Lamont Jordan may or may not have received an offer from Mickey Loomis, but Loomis is also denying that the Saints had interest in Jordan.

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