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The New Orleans Saints created a stir last weekend following a group tryout involving six different free agent wide receivers, the most notable of which was four-time All-Pro Antonio Brown. A few days later, the Saints signed one of the receivers they worked out, but it wasn’t Brown.

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that the Saints added Cheap Tim White Jersey to their practice squad, a third-year pro out of Arizona State. White (5-foot-10, 175 pounds) initially spent the 2017 and 2018 seasons with the Baltimore Ravens practice squad before joining the New York Jets’ offseason 90-man roster in 2019. He was waived during final roster cuts and had been a free agent until the Saints signed him.

New Orleans had a vacancy on their practice squad after promoting rookie wideout Lil’Jordan Humphrey to the active roster (replacing Krishawn Hogan, who ended his year on injured reserve), and several of the free agents they tried out were practice squad-eligible.

That’s something Saints coach Sean Payton emphasized in his post-tryout media availability last Friday, when asked whether Brown’s involvement in the group workout prompted any plans to sign him: “No, not now. We had six guys in today, really. Six receivers that we worked out and a few of them are practice squad eligible. A few of them are veteran players. We worked them out, giving them physicals, mainly doing our due diligence on all of those players.”

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This year’s leap into NFL free agency started off with a whirlwind of moves, with one of the largest transactions involving a trade of Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs in exchange for a haul of Buffalo Bills draft picks. A few days later, the New Orleans Saints agreed to sign the best wide receiver on the free agent market, Cheap Emmanuel Sanders Jersey. But things almost went very differently.

Sanders spoke about his minor role in the Bills-Vikings trade during an appearance on The Rich Eisen Show, detailing how he was nearly the Pro Bowl-caliber weapon paired with Bills quarterback Josh Allen.

Sanders said, “I spoke with the Bills for a little bit. And I told them, ‘Let me think about the idea, give me a night.’ And 30 minutes later the Stefon Diggs deal went through and I was like, ‘Okay.’”

The implication certainly seems to be that if Sanders had accepted the offer Buffalo put on the table then and there, he’d be shopping for parkas and making the rounds as a new number-one receiving option in the Queen City. Instead, his delay meant that the Bills had to move quickly to secure Diggs before another team could beat them to the punch. It’s funny how things work out.

Sanders then turned to the rest of his experience in free agency, in which he weighed competing offers from the Green Bay Packers and a possible reunion with the San Francisco 49ers, who swapped multiple draft picks to acquire him at last season’s trade deadline.

“Then I kind of waited,” Sanders said. “I was talking to Green Bay, I was talking to the Niners. Just trying to figure out what kind of deal, what kind of money we’re talking about. And then the Saints called. And I ecstatic that they called, the opportunity to play with Drew Brees and everything, and the numbers made sense.”

Sanders pointed to other factors that helped make his decision easy — playing most of his games indoors in the NFC South was a big selling point, as was the pairing with Michael Thomas across the formation from him. And Sean Payton’s resume as a play-caller spoke for itself.

“(Payton) had texted me, and he told me to go and look at the film of what they’d been doing for the last 12 years, I think he said,” Sanders continued. “And he was like, ‘You’ll love it here.’ I didn’t even go look at the film, I texted him back within 10 seconds and told him I didn’t have to look at the film, I know what you guys have done and what your system produces.”

Sanders revealed another detail — that Drew Brees was the first person to reach out him and welcome him to the team, reacting even before members of Sanders’ family learned of the news. That meant a lot to him, reinforcing Sanders’ belief that this was the right landing spot for him to choose. The fact that he gets to enjoy the weather in sunny New Orleans rather than frigid Green Bay was just another bonus, as well as proximity to his extended family near the Texas-Louisiana state line. Maybe things worked out best for everyone after all.

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Thomas has improved his statistical output in each of his four seasons and is coming off an NFL record-breaking 149 receptions for a league-high 1,725 yards and 9 touchdowns. The 27-Yr old Thomas is an elite offensive weapon and is nearly unstoppable through the short and intermediate zones. He has underrated athleticism, but Thomas dominates even the best defensive backs with his rare combination of physicality, incredible hands, and crisp route running skills.

Veteran wideout Ted Ginn Jr. started 2019 strong, catching 7 passes for 101 yards in a season-opening win over the Texans. The 35-Yr old Ginn would catch just 23 balls for 320 yards over the remaining 15 games though, and was often a non-factor in the offense. An unrestricted free agent, the 13-Yr veteran still has elite straight line speed to threaten deep, but struggles to separate underneath and has trouble holding on to the football.

Second-year receiver Tre’Quan Smith continues to tease with potential, but has done little to make anybody believe he can be a consistent offensive threat. A 3rd round pick in the 2018 draft, the 24-Yr old Smith caught only 18 passes for 234 yards in 2019, although he did catch five touchdowns. He has the size (6’2, 210-Lbs) and speed of a prototypical wideout but struggles to separate from coverage and often seems skittish in traffic.

Undrafted rookie Deonte Harris earned All-Pro honors with his elite kick return abilities. At just 5’6 170-Lbs., Harris is lightning-fast in the open field and is a deadly weapon with the ball in his hands. Harris was used little as a receiver during the regular season, catching just six passes, but flashed his gamebreaking potential with a 50-Yd reception against Minnesota in the playoffs. We may see Saints coach Sean Payton use Harris more in the offensive game plan this coming season.

New Orleans added two more undrafted rookies at wide receiver along with Harris last offseason. Emmanuel Butler and Lil’Jordan Humphrey both have good size but lack speed. Each showed nice potential during the preseason but neither were able to make a contribution during the regular season. The Saints will also welcome back Keith Kirkwood from injury this year. Kirkwood, who was an undrafted rookie in 2018, missed his second season with a hamstring injury. Another wideout with good size (6’3, 210-Lbs) but lacking great speed, Kirkwood is a physical player who operates well in traffic. He had 13 receptions for 209 yards and 2 touchdowns in eight games of action as a rookie, and had earned the trust of quarterback Drew Brees down the stretch.

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Once an integral part of HBO’s Boxing After Dark series, Derrick Jefferson is now in a fight of a different kind.

The former heavyweight contender was diagnosed with coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and is currently in a medically induced coma while under observation at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Royal Oak (Michigan) Beaumont Hospital. Jefferson, 52, was admitted on Sunday after showing symptoms of the disease.

“When they first tested him for coronavirus, it came back negative,” Jabari Jefferson, the 18-year old son of the former title challenger told Detroit’s WXYZ News. “So, I just thought it was a common cold or flu-like symptoms. But the second test came, he tested positive.

Following the second test, Jefferson—who hails from the greater Detroit area—was placed in a medically induced coma and continues to breathe through the aid of a ventilator. According to a report from WXYZ, Jefferson remains in isolation, with family contact limited to updates over the phone from medical staff.

Jefferson enjoyed a 10-year pro career from 1995 to 2005. The 6’6” heavyweight was considered among the sport’s rising stars in the late 1990s, reaching the peak of his popularity following his November 1999 slugfest with Cheap Maurice Harris Jersey, whom he knocked out in six rounds. The instant classic aired live on HBO’s B.A.D. series, with Jefferson surviving a knockdown to score four of his own, including a final left hook which ejected Harris’ mouthpiece as he collapsed to the canvas.

The bout was hailed by Ring Magazine as the 1999 Knockout of the Year.

Jefferson was well on his way to emerging as a viable heavyweight contender in his very next fight, graduating to HBO’s World Championship Boxing series on the undercard of then pound-for-pound king Roy Jones Jr. in a January 2000 doubleheader. Jefferson was ahead on all three scorecards through eight rounds versus David Izon before literally punching himself into exhaustion as he was stopped in nine rounds.

More bad luck came in his next fight, when Jefferson suffered a broken ankle following an opening round knockdown at the hands of Oleg Maskaev. Jefferson braved the injury until the fight referee Mike Ortega mercifully halted the May 2000 contest in four rounds.

The lone title shot of Jefferson’s career came in March 2001, when he was stopped in two rounds by Wladimir Klitschko. Five wins would follow before suffering a 2nd round knockout versus DaVarryl Williamson in April 2005, the final fight of his career as he retired with a record of 28-4-1 (21KOs).

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When jersey No. 30 became available Monday after the waiver of fullback Cheap Ricky Ortiz Jersey, Quinn suggested that it go to rookie running back Qadree Ollison as a way to honor his brother, who had worn the number as a youngster and died after being shot at a Niagara Falls, N.Y., gas station.

Lerowne Harris, Ollison’s older brother, died Oct. 14, 2017, after being shot three times, a crime for which Denzel K. Lewis of Niagara Falls pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter in May, 2018. Three months later, he was sentenced to up to 25 years in prison for what the judge said was “an assassination more than a murder.”

Police reports and accounts of the crime showed that Harris, who was 14 years older than Ollison, fled across the parking lot after being shot, then was placed in a car and driven to Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center, where he died. A youth league star, Harris had dropped out of high school before his junior year; his younger brother later used football as a way out of housing projects in Niagara Falls.

“I grew up in a rough neighborhood, like any type of projects where drugs, and gangs, and violence are evident,” Ollison said, via ESPN. “Really, just to be blunt, my brother got caught up in that lifestyle.”

Ollison, a fifth-round pick by the Falcons out of Pittsburgh, and his father, Wayne, differed over Lewis’s punishment, with Ollison writing an emotional note to the judge explaining why he could not hate Lewis, with whom he had attended middle school.

“For some reason, you thought it was right to go and gun down my brother that morning of Oct. 14. You had that choice. My brother, at gunpoint, didn’t have a choice to live. It wasn’t up to him. He lost the two greatest things God gives us as people: He lost his ability to choose, and he lost his life,” Ollison wrote. “Now here I am, and I have this choice to hate you or not. I choose not to. I don’t hate you, Denzel. I hate what you did, most certainly. But I still think your life is just as precious as the next person’s. No life means more than another’s. None of us are perfect.”

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Moss gutted through a hamstring injury to time the 40-yard dash in 4.65 seconds, weighing in at 5-foot-9, 223 pounds. He also put up 19 reps on the bench press and hit 33 inches in the vertical jump, but hopes to improve on those numbers at Utah’s pro day on March 26.

That combine performance followed a solid college career, in which Moss ran for 1,000 yards in three consecutive seasons before entering the draft. He capped off his Utah tenure with 1,416 rushing yards and 15 touchdown runs in 2019, as well as a career-high 388 receiving yards (on 28 catches). He’s a name to watch on the second day of this year’s draft.

It’s possible that the Saints could target a running back this offseason, especially with uncertainty surrounding Alvin Kamara’s future with the team. Kamara is entering the final year of his rookie deal and underwhelmed last year while managing a series of lower-leg injuries. They also have Latavius Murray under contract but are otherwise running thin at the position, with practice squad call-up Cheap Taquan Mizzell Jersey waiting in the wings.

But we shouldn’t bet on the Saints drafting a runner highly. Murray proved he could shoulder the load when Kamara missed time last season, and they have too many needs at more important positions. If anything, Moss meeting with the Saints at the combine illustrates the point that we shouldn’t look too deeply into these interviews — by the time the draft rolls around on April 23, every team will have met with nearly every prospect. These formal meetings in Indianapolis are just part of the process in getting to know all possible options.

The 2020 NFL Draft is just weeks away, and soon the New Orleans Saints will go on the clock to make their first selection. With the bulk of free agency spending now in the books, we have a better idea of the Saints roster needs that can be addressed by this year’s talented rookie class.

We used the mock draft machine built by the team at The Draft Network to simulate a seven-round mock draft, allowing us to make informed decisions and provide better transparency about the logic of each pick. Here’s what went into the thinking behind every selection we made, as well as a five-man cluster of prospects available whenever the Saints were on the board.

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The New Orleans Saints are trying to kick off their season on a good note for the first time since 2013 when the Houston Texans come to town for Week 1’s Monday Night Football matchup inside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

The reigning AFC South champions are coming off their third playoff appearance in four years, while New Orleans is the two-time defending NFC South champion and is coming off its second-straight playoff appearance.

A look at all the Saints and Texans’ position groups, the intangibles and who has the edge:

QUARTERBACK: It’s 19-year vet Drew Brees vs. third-year quarterback Deshaun Watson. The edge goes to Brees, but let’s analyze the stats.

Watson played a full season last year after missing the rest of his stellar start of a rookie campaign due to a tore ACL. The Clemson alumnus tossed for 4,165 yards — ranking 11th in the league — with 26 touchdowns and rushed for 551 yards with five touchdowns last season. Watson’s quarterback rating came out to 103.1, which was sixth among all quarterbacks.

Saints coach Sean Payton knows Houston’s dual-threat quarterback, who he likened to Carolina’s Cam Newton, isn’t to be looked over.

“The thing that’s impressive about Deshaun, he’s able to make plays outside the pocket when a play breaks down,” Payton said Thursday. “You have to be able to try as best you can to keep him from really hurting you in all areas of the field outside the pocket.”

Brees, as a 39-year-old, threw for 3,992 passing yards and 32 touchdowns with a league-leading 74.4 completion percentage. In total, Brees’ quarterback rating last year was a league-leading 115.7.

To quote Houston head coach Bill O’Brien, “He’s one of the best ever do it.”

The backups: New Orleans’ Teddy Bridgewater, Taysom Hill. Houston’s AJ McCarron.

OFFENSIVE LINE: New Orleans’ offensive line returns both its starting guards and tackles, with the only new face to the pipeline being rookie center Erik McCoy. Payton said on Thursday that the team won’t announce the starter until gameday, but McCoy has solely taken reps with the ones since early in training camp.

The talent of Terron Armstead, Andrus Peat, Larry Warford and Ryan Ramczyk speaks for itself. New Orleans quarterbacks were only sacked 20 times last season, the second-lowest number in the league.
Compare that to the Texans, who led the league in sacks. Watson was sacked 62 times last season. That’s tied for the fifth-most ever for a single season.

To their credit, the Texans have made some personnel changes since last season. The Texans traded for left tackle Laremy Tunsil, a first round draft pick out of Ole Miss in 2016. The Texans also drafted left guard Tytus Howard out of Alabama State with their first round pick in 2019, and he’s listed as the starter at that position on the game’s flipcard depth chart.

Even with a new-look offensive line for the Texans, it’s not even close. Edge goes to New Orleans.

The backups: New Orleans’ Nick Easton, Will Clapp, Patrick Omameh, rookie Ethan Greenidge. Houston’s Roderick Johnson, Senio Kelemete, Greg Mancz, rookie Max Scharping.

RUNNING BACK/FULLBACK:

The Saints start two-time Pro Bowler, do-it-all back Alvin Kamara. The starting running back listed on Houston’s depth chart is former Cleveland Brown Duke Johnson, after 2018 Pro Bowl running back Lamar Miller ended up on injured reserve for the season with an ACL injury.

Kamara totaled 1,592 yards from scrimmage last season (708 receiving, 883 rushing), while Johnson was primarily used as then-rookie Nick Chubb’s backup, totaling 630 total yards (429 receiving, 201 rushing).

Edge goes to New Orleans.

The backups: New Orleans’ Latavius Murray, Dwayne Washington, full back Zach Line. Houston’s Carlos Hyde, Taiwan Jones, Buddy Howell, rookie fullback Cullen Gillaspia.

WIDE RECEIVER:

The Saints and the Texans were neck and neck in the middle of the pack last year in reference to regular season receiving yards. New Orleans came in at No. 15 with 4,174 and Houston was No. 16 with 4,165.
So what makes or breaks the edge here is the individual talent. And both teams have plenty of that.

Fourth-year Saints receiver Michael Thomas used his statline and All-Pro and Pro Bowl accolades from last year as leverage to earn a blockbuster contract that’s set to begin next year. He had a league-high 125 receptions that went for 1,405 yards receiving on the season, which ranked sixth among league wideouts.

Houston’s DeAndre Hopkins brought in a career-high 1,572 yards receiving on 115 catches last year, earning his second first-team All-Pro distinction for his efforts. Hopkins’ yards receiving ranked second among NFL wideouts and his catches were third.

“I think he’s got very strong hands in traffic,” Payton said of Hopkins. “He’s very confident, a lot of catches in contested areas. (Watson) has got that confidence in him. And so the timing of watching those two work is very impressive.”

In all three phases of offensive production, the Saints ranked eighth last year in average yards per game (379.2). Comparatively, the Texans ranked 15th (362.6).

This one’s a close one, but based on last year’s stats, Hopkins gets the slight nod in Houston’s favor.

The rest of the WRs: New Orleans’ Ted Ginn, Tre’Quan Smith, Keith Kirkwood, Austin Carr, rookie Deonte Harris. Houston’s Keke Coutee, Will Fuller V, Kenny Stills, DeAndre Carter.

TIGHT END:

One of the other new faces to the Saints offense is veteran Pro Bowler Jared Cook. The 11-year pro comes to New Orleans from Oakland and he’s coming off a career-high 896 yards receiving on a career-high 68 catches. He also had a career-high six touchdowns receptions last year from Raiders quarterback Derek Carr.
Cook didn’t play much in the preseason, seeing just 31 snaps and one catch for 4 yards, but fans shouldn’t worry about that. Cook and Brees’ chemistry was apparent at practice all camp long.

Houston’s starting tight end is listed as Darren Fells, who came to Houston from the Cleveland. Fells had 117 yards receiving last year, catching all but one pass thrown his way.

Edge goes to New Orleans.

The backups: New Orleans’ Josh Hill, Taysom Hill. Houston’s Jordan Akins, Jerrell Adams, Logan Paulsen.

DEFENSIVE LINE:

The Saints defensive line will look different for a bit. Starting defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins tore his Achilles tendon during the playoffs and was limited in Thursday’s practice. Though, it is a good sign that the Saints elevated him to the active roster from the physically unable to perform list ahead of the roster deadline. Behind him on the depth chart is defensive tackle Mario Edwards Jr., but he was not observed at practice on Thursday during the media viewing window and did not practice due to a hamstring injury.

In addition to Rankins, major role player David Onyemata is suspended for the first game of the season.

The Saints have All-Pro defensive end Cameron Jordan and PFWA All-Rookie defensive end Marcus Davenport anchoring the outside.

The Saints rush defense last year ranked second-league wide in total rushing yards allowed and average yards per opponent carry.

The key piece on the Texans’ three-man front is five-time All-Pro defensive end J.J. Watt. Watt led the league — alongside Kansas City defensive end Dee Ford — in forced fumbles last year with seven. Watt was second league-wide in sacks with 16. He was tied with Jordan for sixth in tackles for loss with 18, too.
“Number one, he’s a really athletic and talented player,” Payton said Thursday. “He can get on an edge. He can beat you with speed. He has great stamina, so you know you’re going to be in for a battle all day long. All those things, whether he’s lining up inside or outside, make him challenging to play against.”

Other than Watt, nose tackle D.J. Reader and defensive end Angelo Blackson round out the Texans’ line. The trio up front last year led the league in rushing defense, allowing opposing ball carriers just 3.4 yards per touch. As far as total rushing defense, the Texans allowed the third-fewest yards.

This one’s a push.

The backups: New Orleans’ Trey Hendrickson, Taylor Stallworth, Wes Horton, rookie Shy Tuttle. Houston’s Brandon Dunn, Carlos Watkins, rookie Charles Omenihu.

LINEBACKERS:

Saints starting linebacker Alex Anzalone returned to practice in a limited role on Thursday, due to a shoulder injury he sustained during training camp. And earlier this week, Payton said Anzalone is “going to be healthy” for the start of the season.

The third-year middle linebacker had 59 total tackles, six quarterback hits, two sacks, an interception, two passes defended and three forced fumbles in 2018. Those three forced fumbles were tied for 10th in the league last season.

Anzalone is joined by his fellow base defense starters, Demario Davis and A.J. Klein.

Davis had 110 total tackles last season and added 11 tackles for loss, 11 quarterback hits, five sacks, four passes defensed, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. Klein totaled 70 tackles in 2018, adding two sacks, seven tackles for loss, two fumble recoveries, one interception and three passes defensed.
The Texans run a 3-4 base defense, and have Whitney Mercilus, Benardrick McKinney, Zach Cunningham and Brennan Scarlett listed as starters.

Mercilus, who’s been with the Texans since 2012, had four sacks, five tackles for loss, 14 quarterback hits, two forced fumbles and 39 total tackles last season. McKinney was second on the team last year in total tackles with 105, adding 1½ sacks, five tackles for loss, five quarterback hits, seven passes defended and a forced fumble.

Cunningham led the team with 107 tackles, and added three tackles for loss, two quarterback hits, a fumble recovery and two forced fumbles. Scarlett started in just three games last season, totaling 18 tackles in his third season with the Texans.

If Anzalone plays Monday, the edge goes to New Orleans. If not, push.

The backups: New Orleans’ Craig Robertson, Kiko Alonso, Kaden Elliss. Houston’s Barkevious Mingo, Peter Kalambayi, Dylan Cole, Jacob Martin.

DEFENSIVE BACKS:

New Orleans’ trio of Pro Bowl cornerback Marshon Lattimore, safety Marcus Williams and safety Vonn Bell have all played together for three seasons now. And the chemistry between them is there. The fourth starter in the Saints’ base defense is safety Eli Apple, who came to the Saints from the Giants via a mid-season trade after cornerback Patrick Robinson broke his ankle and was placed on the injured reserve.

Collectively, the Saints gave up the fourth-most passing yards in the league last year and averaged the fourth-highest allowed passing yards per game. When it came to interceptions, the Saints were in the middle of the pack (T-18th with 12).
Lattimore led the league in one category: most interception return yards.

Houston’s starting secondary looks vastly different than last year.

Their starting unit is made up of two-time Pro Bowl cornerback Johnathan Joseph, new-to-Houston corner Bradley Roby, new-to-Houston safety Tashaun Gipson Sr. and second-year safety Justin Reid.

Roby spent the first five seasons of his career in Denver and started in all 15 games he played in last season. In those games, he had two forced fumbles, 12 passes defensed, one tackle for loss and 50 total tackles. Gipson comes to Houston after a 3-year stint with the Jaguars. He started all 16 games last season, hauling in one interception, seven passes defensed, one tackle for loss, one quarterback hit and 54 total tackles.

As a rookie, Reid had three interceptions with one pick-6, 10 passes defensed, a forced fumble, two fumble recoveries, two tackles for loss, a quarterback hit and 88 combined tackles.

Edge goes to New Orleans.

The backups: New Orleans’ P.J. Williams, rookie C.J. Gardner-Johnson, rookie Saquan Hampton, Patrick Robinson, Justin Hardee, J.T. Gray, Ken Crawley. Houston’s Aaron Colvin, Keion Crossen, Jahleel Addae, A.J. Moore Jr., Cornell Armstrong, rookie Xavier Crawford, rookie Lonnie Johnson Jr.

SPECIALISTS:

Saints punter Thomas Morstead ranked sixth in the league last year in punting average (46.4) and made his lone field goal and lone PAT kick. Kicker Wil Lutz ranked fifth in field goal percentage at 93.3 percent, only missing two during the regular season Lutz also ranked fourth in PAT percentage, only missing one last season.
The new face to the specialists’ squad is rookie returner Deonte Harris. Harris went undrafted out of Division II’s Assumption College and had a stellar start to the preseason, leading the league in kickoff return yards and punt return yards. He was also one of four returners to return punts for touchdowns throughout the preseason.

Texans kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn made 95.1 percent of his PATs last season (39-of-41) and converted 88.1 percent of his field goals (37-of-42). Punter Trevor Daniel was tied for 29th in punting average, booting the ball 43.7 yards per punt.

As a rookie playing for two teams, return specialist DeAndre Carter totaled 249 punt return yards and 425 kick return yards, ranking eighth in the league in combined return yardage.

Edge goes to New Orleans.

The backups: New Orleans’ holder Taysom Hill; punt returner Alvin Kamara, Ted Ginn; kick returner Kamara, Ginn. Houston’s kick returner Taiwan Jones; punt returner Keke Coutee.

INTANGIBLES:

The Saints haven’t won a season opener since 2013. Though, the Saints are in the Superdome for the first game since the NFC Championship game.

The Texans are in win-now mode, as they acquired both left tackle Laremy Tunsil and wide receiver Kenny Stills during roster cuts weekend. They also have several additional new faces to the team, whether that be veterans or a few rookies.

Edge here goes to the Saints.

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The New Orleans Saints acquired linebacker Kiko Alonso in a trade with the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, and he made his debut at Saints practice on Monday wearing No. 54.
There were questions surrounding which number Alonso would pick while in black and gold, with each of the numbers he wore in previous stops — No. 50 with the Philadelphia Eagles and Buffalo Bills, No. 47 for the Dolphins — already claimed by his new Saints teammates. No. 50 is worn by backup defensive end Wes Horton, while starting linebacker Alex Anzalone owns No. 47.

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A few other players changed numbers in the wake of this weekend’s roster cuts. Rookie defensive tackle Shy Tuttle picked up No. 99, having worn No. 74 throughout the summer. Two new practice squad additions also selected new numbers, with running back/wide receiver Taquan Mizzell choosing No. 44, and offensive lineman John Leglue picking up No. 65.

Otherwise, things have remained the same as they were a week ago, when the Saints last practiced. It appears the rest of the rookie class will remain in their chosen numbers. Here’s a refresher on the Saints rookies:

Center Erik McCoy: No. 78
Safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson: No. 22
Safety Saquan Hampton: No. 33
Linebacker Kaden Elliss: No. 55
Tight end Alize Mack: No. 86 (practice squad)
Wide receiver/returns specialist Deonte Harris: No. 11
Wide receiver Lil’Jordan Humphrey: No. 84 (practice squad)
Wide receiver Emmanuel Butler: No. 17 (practice squad)
Offensive tackle Derrick Kelly: No. 68 (practice squad)
Offensive lineman John Leglue: No. 65 (practice squad)
GALLERY
Here is the initial 10-man New Orleans Saints 2019 practice squad
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New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees has been nominated for two ESPYs, Best Record-Breaking Performance and Best NFL Player, ESPN announced Wednesday.

Voting is under way here and all categories will close at the start of the live show Wednesday, July 10, at 7 p.m. central.

Brees surpassed Peyton Manning’s mark of 71,940 career passing yards on “Monday Night Football” during a nationally televised game against the Washington Redskins in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The achievement moves Brees into first place on the NFL’s all-time passing list. The game was paused late in the second quarter after Brees completed a 62-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Tre’Quan Smith to allow for recognition of the accomplishment, which came in his 18th NFL season. Brees began the evening third on the all-time list and passed Brett Favre (71,838 yards) midway through the second quarter.

For the Best Record-Breaking Performance category, Brees is joined by Oregon women’s basketball player Sabrina Ionescu, Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson, and high school track phenom Matthew Boling.
Along with Brees, there are three other nominees for Best NFL Player: Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald, and Rams running back Todd Gurley II.

In 2010, Brees received three ESPY trophies – Best Male Athlete, Best Championship Performance and Best NFL Player.

The interactions were, in a word, “golden.”

Alex Anzalone smiled easily, laughed genuinely and operated dutifully while he nuzzled, hugged and steered. The dogs with which he was being photographed weren’t totally attentive to all commands, and perhaps that made the session at Animal Rescue New Orleans all the more adorable.

Imagine the New Orleans Saints’ 6-foot-3, 241-pound linebacker talking baby talk, trying to convince each of six dogs (in separate photo shoots) to look toward the camera, or sit still long enough to strike a pose, or not wriggle as he cradled them or, in one instance, held one up for a Simba-style presentation.

This isn’t the Anzalone that Saints fans are accustomed to seeing.
That guy – blonde hair flowing from beneath his helmet, almost lengthy enough to cover the name across the back of his jersey – doesn’t handle opponents with any measure of delicacy.

The fumbles he forced against two elite receivers in 2018 – pounding Minnesota’s Adam Thielen in the second quarter with New Orleans trailing 13-10, and walloping Atlanta’s Julio Jones in the second quarter while the Saints led 17-3 – were indicative of the level of wrath Anzalone can unspool.

But there’s no wrath-unspooling when he’s at ARNO. There, Anzalone is, well – you knew it was coming, but it’s appropriate – a Saint.

If he’s not a lead spokesman for the organization, he likely is its most notable and recognizable.

“There are tons of different charities but it’s something that really strikes my chord,” Anzalone said. “It’s something I love to do, and I like spending time with animals and people who love animals, as well.”
It’s no act. He linked with ARNO in his rookie season, 2017, and has been a regular presence since. He takes the relationship personally, for good reason.

“It’s something that I got into in college,” he said. “I have a rescue dog myself – Sammy – and just learning throughout the process how adopting an animal works and everything like that kind of drew my interest.

“My fiancé (Lindsey Cooper) kind of introduced it to me a little bit. She grew up adopting animals. But doing it myself, and with her, kind of opened my eyes up to it. And then, kind of just researching it more and more kind of opens your eyes that there are dogs out there you can adopt, pure-bred dogs that you can find that are perfectly normal and not spend a lot of money on, either.

“When I got drafted here I came out, checked it out and met up with everyone there. I try to help out where I can. I’ve taken pictures with dogs, tried to incentivize adopting an animal – ‘You can adopt this dog and get this picture with myself.’ Just try to give back like that.”

The level nearly is immeasurable of appreciation for his work.
“He’s our only (athlete spokesperson),” said Ginnie Boumann, vice president and one of the directors of ARNO. “And we call him the biggest animal lover in the NFL. And I haven’t been challenged yet, so I’m going to keep saying it. He and his fiancé are so devoted to animals.

“Alex comes here every so many months in order to do a photo shoot. However, he tweets, he retweets pictures of the animals, he comes by to help out. When we have a call for ‘laundry angels’ because we’re trying to get enough people to help out, because it’s cold and we have all these extra blankets, he and Lindsey are angels and they help us in any way they can.”

Boumann said Anzalone’s celebrity status obviously works to their favor.

“It’s extraordinary,” she said. “There’s such a following for the New Orleans Saints, that the moment you put a dog or anything about ARNO with Alex, it’s retweeted all over the place. There’s such a following. It’s really significant, and it helps bring about more awareness to the need for rescue – not only adopting, but volunteering here or at events.

“Lindsey is incredible. Her grandmother is into rescue, so she has it in her blood. So even as they’re making all of their own (wedding) plans, they’re always checking in on us, always seeing how they can help.”
Anzalone appears to have found his sweet spot there, as much as he did on the field last year, his second in the NFL. He played all 16 regular-season games (he had a season-ending injury in his fourth game as a rookie) and totaled 59 tackles, two sacks, an interception, three forced fumbles and two passes defended.

For ARNO, he isn’t able to invest as much time as he’d like, but it’s valuable nonetheless.

“I spend time with the animals, just showing everyone that these dogs are lovable,” he said. “It’s fun to do and it’s good to give back.

“I’m able to come every once in a while per my schedule. When I do, I try to put some time into it and do some things that help out and give back. A little bit goes a long way.”

Cheap Nike New Orleans Saints Erik McCoy Jersey Authentic 2019

NASHVILLE, TN (KTRE) – Erik McCoy does not show emotion. Friday night he did.

After the 47th pick in the NFL draft was made, McCoy sitting on a coach surrounded by his mom, dad and girlfriend, received a phone call.

“Hello, this is Erik…. Yes sir coach…. Thank you…. I am in Lufkin, TX with my family…,” McCoy said to the voice of Saints Head Coach Sean Peyton on the other end. After about 4 minutes, McCoy said thank you and hung up the phone. About a minute later his named was called to a ruckus crowd in Nashville.

Erik McCoy New Orleans Saints
Chauncey Gardner-Johnson New Orleans Saints

“It was overwhelming,” McCoy said. “Just to say I finally got the call was unreal. All the hard work pays off. It was a commitment I made a long time ago. Those were early mornings. All the hard work, all the years, all the sacrifices people made to get me to work outs. I didn’t have a car. To take care of me and get me to where I am today, I am grateful.”

The moment @Erik_McCoy_73 learned he would be a @Saints @KTREnews @EastTexasNow pic.twitter.com/ew4o9XKvT3

— Caleb Beames (@CalebKTRE) April 27, 2019
“It is a feeling I can’t describe right now,” McCoy said. “There was a little disappointment last night. I won’t lie. I had my hopes high but I figured I would go in the second. Honestly I am just looking forward to this opportunity.”

VIDEO: Learning more about New Orleans Saints’ Erik McCoy
Erik McCoy’s path to the NFL started at a young age
The 6 foot 4 inch tall, 315 pound offensive lineman’s path to this point began at a young age. He played multiple sports growing up.

McCoy talked to several NFL teams, including the Rams and Panthers. He told reporters tried not to look at the mock draft because he’s only worried about what he can control.
“I did not think it was going to be that emotional,” McCoy said. I am not an emotional person. It just hit me all at once. I have worked 12 years for this… My mom is super emotional. My dad is like me. My mom is whispering in my ear, ‘You made it, you finally made it.’ My dad is not saying anything. It is good I had both of them here with me. I am just happy. Dreams come true.”

INTERVIEW: Lufkin coach talks about Erik McCoy, NFL Draft
“I am just happy, just happy,” McCoy said. “I is a great feeling. There are plenty of guys that come out of Lufkin. My good friend Keke Coutee came out last year. To finally say I have finally made it and reached the highest level of play will put a bigger light on the o-line in college station and just put some East Texas pride back around here.”

McCoy will join a team with Drew Brees and an offense that made the Saints a title contender last year. There would also be the chance to play with Dez Bryant if the Saints chose to resign the veteran.

“That would be awesome,” McCoy said. “You know Dez Bryant, that is a guy that every Lufkin Kid looks up to growing up. Being an offensive lineman, I didn’t have the body of a receiver, but if I got to play with him that would be freaking awesome.”

McCoy will celebrate for a short time and then get to work to prove the pick is not a bust.

“I went to the city once on my way to Florida,” McCoy said. “I don’t know much about the city so I am excited to get there. I will go in, put my head down and work. That is something I have done my whole life. Go in, shut up, do what I am supposed to do and do the best to be the best player I can be.”