October 12, 2010

Saints hand kicking duties back to Hartley; sign new safety and shuffle backup RB

The Saints handed the placekicking duties today back to Garrett Hartley, releasing veteran John Carney.

Carney, who was the Saints' field goal kicker for the past two games, missed a critical late short-range field goal against Arizona.  Those three lost points put the Saints in a position to be down late in the game instead of playing for overtime, though it wasn't Carney's fault Brees threw his third pick of the day on the Saints' final, potentially game-tying drive.

It was a miss from short range that prompted the Saints to sign Carney in the first place.  Hartley remained on the roster, inactive on gameday, for the past two weeks.

Carney and backup RB DeShawn Wynn, a veteran who has been shuffled on and off the roster, were cut to make room for two new players, signed to give depth at injury-riddled positions.

RB Julius Jones is the former Notre Dame, Dallas Cowboy and Seattle Seahawk and brother of Kansas City Chiefs RB Thomas Jones.  Julius Jones was a second round pick of the Cowboys in 2004 and enjoyed success in his first three seasons.  Not a big back, Jones is shifty but not very fast.

Jones rushed for over 1000 yards in 2006, with 4.1 average per carry.  He's been unremarkable since then, part of a rotation in Dallas and then with the Seahawks after signing in Seattle as a free agent in 2008.  A good receiver out of the backfield, he could certainly resemble an upgrade to DeShawn Wynn or Ladell Betts.

In two career games with the Cowboys against the Saints, both losses, Jones has scored a touchdown in each, running for 88 yards in a 2004 and 116 yards in 2006.  That 2006 game saw Jones rip off a 77 yard rush for a touchdown early on and then be bottled up as Sean Payton and Drew Brees exploded onto the national scene with a dominating 42-17 victory over the playoff-bound Cowboys in Dallas.

Jones was cut after week two by the Seahawks, who had traded for Bills RB Marshawn Lynch.

The Saints also signed safety Matt Giordano, a special teams veteran who will help soothe the loss of safety Chris Reis.  Giordano is expected to fill the gap that Reis left - coverage teams and the rare, occasional playing time on defense.  Reis was injured against the Panthers when a stack of injuries forced him into game action as the starting strong safety.

A fourth round pick out of Cal in 2004, Giordano has a Super Bowl ring from 2006 with the Indianapolis Colts and played there through 2008.  In 2009 Giordano played in five games for the Packers, and went to training camp with the Falcons this season but was released on August 31.

Giordano's biggest career moment came against the Saints in the regular season opener of 2007, when he picked a Brees pass and returned it 83 yards for a touchdown, the final score of a laugher the Saints lost 41-10.  That remains his only touchdown, though Giordano has two other career interceptions, none since 2007.

UPDATE: The Saints also reportedly worked out former Ravens CB Frank Walker and former Bucs RB Clifton Smith but did not sign them.

UPDATE: In ex-Saint news, DE Bobby McCracy worked out for the Titans, and RB Aaron Stecker worked out for Mike McCarthy and the Green Bay Packers.  The Titans also worked out S Macho Harris, whom the Saints worked out last week.

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