February 15, 2007

Saints Ink Street Free Agents To Fill Offseason Roster

Allocations to NFL Europe include Boykin; Saints pick up 2006 practice squad players

The Saints have added the following street free agents:

T Ben Archibald,
DT McKinley Boykin,
FB Kevin Dudley,
DE Willie Evans,
QB Jason Fife,
TE Robert Johnson,
LB E.J. Kuale,
WR Lance Moore,
CB Anwar Phillips,
S Chris Reis,
WR Dante Ridgeway,
G Wes Sims,
K Kurt Smith,
DT Brandon Villareal,
LB Cornelius Wortham,
G Dave Yovanovits.

6'3, 330 pound Archibald has been with the Saints for a handful of offseasons now and has been one of the last offensive linemen to be cut in the past two training camps. He spent 2006 on the practice squad, spent 2005 either inactive or on special teams, and 2004 on the practice squad. The Saints picked him up off the 49ers practice squad after the 2003 season. He's been to NFL Europe in 2005.

The next most experienced re-Sainted player is 5'9, 177 pound WR Lance Moore, who starred in preseason 2006 after coming home early from NFL Europe 2006 with a hand injury. Moore made some big plays as a receiver and also saw a lot of time at kick returner and punt returner. The former Toledo star is back at a position where the Saints could see a lot of transition this offseason.

LB EJ Kuale, the athletic former LSU Tiger, started hot at training camp 2006 in Jackson before fading due to an ankle injury. The Saints may have also been hiding him, hoping to develop him on the practice squad without getting picked up by another team. Linebackers coach Joe Vitt really harped on Kuale during camp, a sign that he likes him, and Kuale worked with the Saints through the season on the practice squad. Kuale worked at weakside linebacker in camp.

QB Jason Fife, 6'4, 226, is the big signal caller from Oregon who was the Saints' camp arm last August in Jackson. He'll be with the Saints during the offseason and is not being sent to Europe again. Fife has a shot to make the team as the #3 quarterback in the fall... assuming the Saints decide to carry an emergency quarterback on the roster.

Those players who are being sent to Europe are DT McKinkley Boykin, DE Willie Evans, S Chris Reis, K Kurt Smith and OLB Cornelius Wortham.

DT McKinley Boykin, 6'0, 288, was an undrafted free agent signee of the Saints in 2006, one of many such players added again to the Saints' offseason roster. Boykin quit the team during training camp, rejoined, then quit again. The ever-patient Saints are giving the former Ole Miss Rebel a big shot by sending him to NFL Europa, where he can audition for all 32 teams.

Evans, 6'1, 270, is a Mississippi native and a State graduate who signed with the Giants as a undrafted rookie last summer. The former Bulldog defensive end had 15 sacks as a senior.

Reis, 6'0, 215, is a Georgia Tech product who signed with the Falcons as an undrafted free agent last season. A former All-ACC Academic team and the Yellow Jackets' leading tackler in 2005, he was cut in training camp by the Falcons.

Smith, 6'0, 181, is a former Virginia kicker who handled kickoffs for all four of his collegiate years. He was a sixth round draft pick of the San Diego Chargers, the 188th overall selection last April.

Wortham, 6'1, 236, is two years out of Alabama and played in eight games, mostly on special teams, for the Seahawks in 2005 after being one of the club's seventh round picks. The 25-year old was cut in training camp last year by the Seahawks.

Others signed by the Saints:

FB Kevin Dudley finished the 2006 season on the Saints' practice squad. The former Michigan lead blocker spent 2005 on the Falcons' practice squad and was cut the Falcons in training camp 2006.

TE Robert Johnson, the former Auburn star, is a massive 6'6, 278 pound prospect. Johnson declared early for the draft but went undrafted, and bounced from the Bears to the Redskins before landing with the Saints' practice squad at the end of last season. He has one career catch with the Redskins in 2005.

CB Anwar Philips, 6'0, 190, was expecting to be drafted last April, but instead signed undrafted with the Saints after the draft. Philips was on the Saints' practice squad this past season and will fight for a roster spot again.

WR Dante Ridgeway, the 5'11, 210 pound Ball State product was a sixth round draft pick of the Rams in 2005. An NFL journeyman, Ridgeway caught two passes as a Jet in 2005 and caught on to the Saints' practice squad halfway through last season.

G Wes Sims, 6'4, 317, was a sixth round draft pick of the Chargers in 2005 out of Oklahoma, bounced to Carolina and then Sims before ending the season on the Saints' practice squad. The collegiate left tackle moved inside as a pro.

DT Brandon Villareal was one of many former Purdue players the Saints picked up during and after the 2006 NFL Draft. The 6'2, 289 pound inside rush tackle got a lot of playing time in training camp and preseason, and was an immediate addition to the practice squad.

G Dave Yovanovits, 6'3, 300, is a journeyman who started out in 2003 as a seventh round pick of the Jets. Saints running game coordinator Doug Marrone brought him in, as the two worked together in New York. The former Temple offensive lineman started two games for the Jets and Browns in 2004 and 2005 respectively.

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