October 16, 2008

Notes: Saints Part Ways With Special Teams Ace Copper

Midseason cut of special teamer made possible by emergence of Dunbar, Young; though unexplained

The Saints have cut WR Terrance Copper, primarily a special teams player, in the middle of the season. Copper has been with the Saints as long as Sean Payton has, as the two came over together from Dallas.

Copper, 6'2, 208, 26, played sparingly on offense, though one of his catches was a "how did that happen?" impossible catch of a toss and a prayer by Drew Brees at the end of the first half in Atlanta in 2006. On the other hand, his critical lost fumble likely cost the Saints the game in Pittsburgh that same year.

As a Saint, Copper had 38 catches for 511 yards for five touchdowns since 2006, though none this year through five active games.

The fifth year player out of East Carolina was supposedly a close friend of Sean Payton and a favorite of the coaching staff because of his good work ethic on special teams as a gunner and blocker.

His departure is curious, removing a formerly key piece of the special teams in midseason. Copper was special teams captain for the Saints in the past, but the emergence of youngsters CB Usama Young and rookie LB Jo-Lonn Dunbar on special teams apparently have usurped Copper.

And though the Saints claimed that Copper's departure was due to depth at the wide receiver position, with Marques Colston returning, the Saints two days later signed veteran free agent WR Courtney Roby.

Roby, 25, 6'1, 190, was a third round pick of the Titans four years ago out of Indiana. A native of Indianapolis and a former high school quarterback, Roby never caught on in Tennessee, Cincinnati or Indianapolis.

He was cut by the Colts on September 11 after being on their active game roster for week one of the regular season. Roby is a kick returner as well as receiver, and returned a kickoff 103 yards for a touchdown this past preseason.

He is a cousin of former NFL punter Reggie Roby.

The Saints cut Copper to make room for DE Jeff Charleston on the 53-man roster on Tuesday. Charleston is the fourth defensive end on the roster for the Saints, though without Sedrick Ellis and Antwan Lake the Saints have been playing Charles Grant inside at tackle on passing downs.

Charleston was also cut by Indianapolis after the preseason and has been bounced on and off the Saints' roster already this season. GM Mickey Loomis said that other teams were sniffing around Charleston and the Saints didn't want to lose him.

To make room for Roby, the Saints released TE Sean Ryan on Thursday. Ryan played some on Sunday against the Raiders with starting TE Mark Campbell hurting. Jeremy Shockey may be able to return to the lineup against the Panthers after his sports hernia surgery recovery has progressed well.

Like others, Ryan has been yo-yo'd on and off the Saints' roster on an almost weekly basis as the team struggles to fill a depth chart ravaged by injury.

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