The newest member of the New Orleans Saints stepped into the radio huddle with Deuce McAllister and Deke Bellavia on Sports Talk as Manti Te'o made his first visit to Saints Radio WWL.
The veteran Linebacker hit on a variety of topics including his college days at Notre Dame, the difference from big time college ball and the NFL and his new home New Orleans.
"I was looking for a great opportunity. My agent and I looked for a place that gave me a place to compete. When I made the trip over there I immediately fell in love with the people. I'm very glad to be a member of the New Orleans Saints," said the former Notre Dame Irish star.
The 2013 second round draft pick spent all of his first three seasons in the league with the San Diego Chargers. Te'o became one of the nation's most notable college football players while helping the Irish advance to the National Title Game in 2013.
Manti's play saw him rise up and even become a candidate for the Heisman Trophy. However, towards the final days of his storied Irish playing days it would be a bizarre off field issue that gained the most attention for the standout college player.
"You know the good and bad stays with you in college. I know I'm here to get better and improve. I had some success in San Diego but as a player you always want more."
Manti had nothing but great things to say about the Saints and his visit to the facility before he signed with the team. And Te'o said that being able to play under a very familiar position coach is also a positive.
"I got a chance to meet everyone within the organization. Being under Coach Nolan is something that I've felt comfortable with. Being in a 3-4 or 4-3 I think the scheme will allow me to be in place and go out and make plays."
One thing that is a valid concern is the health of Te'o. In his three NFL seasons, Manti has suffered an injury in each of those seasons. Te'o suffered a foot or ankle injury in his first three seasons with the Chargers. And currently the three year pro is trying to get ready to work with the Black and Gold this off season.
"I'm going to work as hard as I can with the training staff and do everything I can to get on the field as soon as I can. I've been told that I am future along in the rehab process than scheduled and I want to keep progressing in getting ready to go."
Manti Te'o signed a two-year contract with the Saints last week.
To hear Deuce and Deke's entire interview with new Saints LB Manti Te'o just click below and for the latest on the Black and Gold stay logged on to wwl.com.
In life relationships matter a lot. And sometimes relationships prove to be a key component in what a person does or even maybe where someone may go "That's my boy (Kenny Vaccaro). That's my best friend. Kenny told me that there had been some need on the D-Line. Things started heating up, talks started happening and then the deal got done."
New Saints Linebacker Alex Okafor became one of the newest members of the New Orleans Saints in somewhat by way of a close friend. Okafor played college ball with Saints Safety Kenny Vaccaro and Vaccaro let Okafor know that the Saints were in need of some defensive help.
The former University of Texas Longhorn visited with Bobby Hebert and Deke Bellavia on Sports Talk soon after he signed his one year deal with the Saints. Okafor agreed to a one-year deal with the Black and Gold as the Saints added the young pass rusher to the fold. Okafor comes to New Orleans after making a bit of a splash in his first four seasons in the league.
Alex played four years for the Arizona Cardinals after being drafted in the 4th round (103rd) of the 2013 NFL Draft. Okafor told Bobby and Deke that he's healthy and ready to go after suffering an injury during 2016 season. He suffered a torn Bicep Muscle.
"The league doesn't wait on you. You have to get healthy and get your body ready. You have to be able to capitalize on opportunities and that's what I want to do." You can listen to the entire interview with Alex Okafor by clicking below.
When asked what his strengths are, Okafor feels like he's stout against the run. "You would not be in this league unless you can play the run. If a team can't stop the run you're not going to be effective. I've proven I can stop the run."
As he enters his fifth season in the NFL with a new team, the veteran LB wants to raise his game and help the Saints get back to their winning ways. "They brought me in to fill a need on defense. I want to help this team as much as I can. The ultimate goal is to get to the Super Bowl and I'm going to work hard and do my part."
After three straight 7-9 seasons, to say that the 2017 off-season is an important one for the New Orleans Saints would be understated. Saints Quarterback Drew Brees called the huddle and joined Bobby and Deke to cover a few things.
"I look at it as a very exciting time. Our team is taking shape, we are not far off from beginning off season work and the draft is coming up. We have several picks to make and there will be some new players on our team also."
Drew was responding to Deke's question about this time of year in the NFL with Free Agency ongoing and the NFL Draft right around the corner. Drew, who is always optimistic, feels strong about the future of the Saints.
"I really feel like we (Saints) are just a few pieces away. The puzzle is beginning to come together and I think we are all excited about that." Drew spoke with Bobby and Deke about him opening the 11th Walk On's location in Zachary, Louisiana.
You can listen to the entire conversation between Drew Bobby and Deke by clicking below. Drew talked about the addition of some of his new teammates including speedy Wide Receiver Ted Ginn Jr.
"I think Ted Ginn has played some of his best football the last few years. He's always been a fast guy but more than that He been a polished player for a very long time. I look forward to working with him and I think he's going to have a great role on our WR core to help compliment some great young players."
The Saints were very active and aggressive last week in the early minutes of the start of the 2017 NFL Free Agency period. New Orleans landed one of the top available Offensive Guards in the game in Larry Warford.
"I think that's (Warford) is a great addition. Everyone I talked to has said how great of a teammate Larry is. I know when you sign a young guy like Larry to a long term deal it is exciting."
Drew went on to talk about some of the things he has been doing during his down time and Drew even had a little fun with Bobby and Deke going back to his days when he was in college at Purdue.
For more on the Saints be sure and log on to wwl.com
11 years ago he was about to enter the National Football League being hailed as a player with game changing speed.
Now he's set to enter his 11th season in the NFL with fifth different team. And the one thing about him that has not changed, is his reputation of having game breaking speed.
"When I came in (NFL) I was able to be around some players that had been in the league for 10, 12 years. And being able to soak up those players knowledge of the game, how to handle things on and off the field and how to take care of your body was a blessing and helped me a lot," said Ted Ginn Jr.
Ted Ginn Jr. entered the NFL out of the Ohio State University where he became known for his ability to beat opposing players with his gifted speed. And now as a double digit year veteran of the most powerful professional sports league Ginn Jr. is a player that many feel has a lot left in the tank.
Ginn joined Bobby Hebert and Deke Bellavia on Sports Talk to hit on a variety of topics including his ability to last in the NFL for over 10 years, his goals for the off season and Ginn also addressed his game and how it has evolved over the course of nearly 11 years.
Ted said there were many things that made him excited about joining the Saints including the Saints QB. "To be able to play with a HOF QB like Drew Brees and to be able to show him what I have. And once we get into the OTA's and workouts this off-season we can work hard, get on the same page and do what it takes to be the best we can be."
When knew players come to a different team the type of role that player will fit into is often discussed. What does Ted think? "We go into a season and look at what I can do and where I can contribute. I've always been a returner and that's a position that I've always loved and had some success at.
Ted said that he and his family are still in Charlotte and he's looking forward to the Saints beginning off season work next month. Ginn has been able to last in a league that the average career life span of a player is 3.3 years (according to the NFLPA) three times as long. What are somethings that has allowed Ted Ginn Jr. to be success in the league for such a long time?
"You have to be a student athlete meaning you have to keep learning things and stay away from things that are not good for you. And you have to go out and figure out the game. It's not a sprint it's a marathon. That's something I was taught as a young man. You have to know when to sprint and you have to know when it's a marathon."
Ginn, which is sometimes knocked for his inconsistency in catching the football talked about his stance when asked about catches and how he handles his game. "Hey we (players) are taught to move to the next play. It's only one play. If I drop five balls and catch the sixth one for a TD that's all that matters. That's part of the game."
You can listen to Bobby and Deke with new Saints WR Ted Ginn Jr. by clicking below.
When he began making a name for himself on the high school prep football scene back in 2006, it was then and still is now just plain ole "Nick." Nah, It's funny ya'll say that (Deke and Bobby) over all these years I've always been called just Nick. No nicknames, nothing else just plain ole Nick."
Saints Defensive Tackle Nick Fairley was giddy, cheerful and in a fun lighthearted mood earlier this week one he stepped into the radio huddle with Bobby Hebert and Deke Bellavia on Sports Talk.
Fairley is still celebrating his recent success in the form of a four year contract with the Saints after having what Fairley feels was one of his best in his career. "It was one of the best years of my career. I felt like I had a lot to prove. I still feel like I've got a lot to prove. And now with the next four year's here (New Orleans) I'm looking forward to getting back out there and getting some things done."
Fairley had a career high 6.5 sacks in 2016 and Fairley also made his presence felt in the middle of the Saints Defense as a consistent run stuffer. Fairley was a key figure in the Saints run defense being one of the best in the league against the run up the middle. The Saints allowed only 2.2 yard per rush on running plays up the middle of the field.
"As an interior Defensive Tackle that's something you pride yourself on. You don't want to allow anyone to run up the middle on you. We felt like we improved last season and we want to keep on improving in that area."
Fairley was a top flight player for the Wolfpack at Copiah Lincoln Community College in Mississippi before he became the SEC Defensive Player of the year in 2010 helping lead the Auburn Tigers to the National Title.
Facing the likes of former Tigers now Panthers QB Cam Newton, Nick said every practice at AU was very intense and competitive. Never a dull moment at practice at auburn. Practices were very competitive. We all wanted to be the best we could be and I think we brought out the best in each other," said Fairley.
After a career year and a new four-year deal what's next for the veteran DT? "I just want to go out, work hard with my teammates and our team to become the best team we can be. I enjoy being here and when I hear that Who Dat chant that gets me fired up. I love it down here and I'm looking forward being here another four years."
To hear the entire conversation Deke and Bobby had with Saints Defensive Tackle Nick Fairley just click below.
It was perhaps as good of a feel good story that folks down in these parts have seen, heard, read and watched in quite some time. A local boy made good all over the country. And now he's at his dream job which happens to be the most popular and powerful program, team and or school in the state. And one of the most followed in the country.
Yes when Coach Ed Orgeron officially became the head football coach at LSU, many (although there were plenty of doubters) were more than excited about a man born on da bayou in charge of the team that carries the most weight in the boot!
But now the official on the clock period begins for Coach Orgeron and he's ready to roll. Coach spoke to Deuce and Deke on Sports Talk and you could hear the passion in his voice when previewing the Tigers Spring Practice.
"Ten plus." That was Orgeron's response when I asked him on a scale from one to 10 what is his excitement level entering the first of spring practice. "Our staff has done a great job of mapping out things that we really want to focus on this spring and now it's time to go out and put the work in and get better."
Orgeron and the Tigers begin spring football this weekend. Orgeron talked about a variety of things he wants to see his team work on including practicing with intensity.
"It's really about how hard you work when you are out there. We feel like we've got some good players returning and some younger guys we want to get more looks at. It's going to be a competitive spring for the Tigers."
Coach O also talked about having a proven veteran returning at the QB position.
"Danny gives us some experience and a player that has been in and played well in some big games. But we also wanted to open the competition and see what the other QB's and bring to the table. Coach Canada has a good group of quarterbacks and we are looking forward to seeing those guys compete."
Coach Orgeron went on to talk about how he feels like the Tigers have a lot of talent back on the defensive side of the football, the importance of getting better on special teams. And he spoke about how the team has worked hard in the off season, the Tigers as a team are as strong as they've ever been. And Coach O talked about how he wants to bring the state together to rally around LSU Tigers Football.
To listen to Duece and Dek's conversation with LSU Coach Ed Orgeron just click below.
The New Orleans Saints clearly had a plan on which positions they wanted to address during the Free Agency period. Just minutes into the official start of the 2017 Free Agent period in the NFL, the Saints added proven veterans at Linebacker, Wide Receiver and Offensive Guard.
"I think the Saints saw a lot of things that they think each of these players can come in and upgrade the roster," said the Cajun Cannon Bobby Hebert. "I know that all three (Ginn, Klein and Warford) of these signings add experience, depth and these players have skins on the wall.
The Saints came to terms with two players from NFC South rival Carolina by inking WR Ted Ginn Jr. and Linebacker A.J. Klein. Ted Ginn has proven that he has not lost a step of his blazing speed and placing him in an offense like the Saints could mean a much needed deep threat spark the Saints have needed.
Klein is a player that looks like he's ready to breakout and become one of the players on the rise. Klein was forced into a starting role during the 2016 season when the Panthers All-Pro LB Luke Kuechly went down with a concussion against the Saints.
Klein held down the Middle Linebacker spot the final six games of the 16 season for the Panthers serving as the QB of the Cats Defense during that time span. Klein was a 5th round pick for Carolina out of Iowa State in the 2013 NFL Draft. In four seasons Klein has 146 tackles, four sacks, four forced fumbles and one interception.
Klein can come in and add a physical, experienced presence in the middle of the Saints Defense. Ginn Jr., long known for his tremendous speed, comes to New Orleans where he looks like a good fit for what Sean Payton likes to do. Ginn Jr. has a career average of 16.6 yards per catch, 23.7 yards per average kick return and 11 yards on average each punt return. Ginn could be a big boost to Saints Special Teams that have lacked a solid, consistent returner for years.
"Look you can't coach speed and I know Ted Ginn Jr. still has it. He can get behind defenses and he's a big time special team's player," Hebert said.
Ginn Jr. has totaled 34 Touchdowns in his 11 seasons in the NFL.
The Saints also made a splash in landing one of the top available offensive linemen in Detroit's Larry Warford. Warford was regarded as one of the top guards in Free Agency and it took the Saints only a matter of minutes to lock up the veteran OG.
Warford become one of the Lions best offensive lineman in his four years in the Motor City. Paving the way for one of the leagues most potent offensive units, Warford is best known for his run blocking skills.
"I would say he's more known for run blocking. Now I'm not saying that Warford is not a good pass protector. But I think he's most known for opening holes," Hebert said. The Saints have been searching for the right mix at guard since the days of Nicks and Evans some six-seven seasons ago.
So today the Saints came out of the gates very aggressive and New Orleans addressed areas of need on offense, defense and special teams. And when you toss in the Black and Gold retaining WR Willie Snead and agreeing to a new deal with DL Nick Fairly I would have to say today was a good day for the Black and Gold.
Yes we all know its pure speculation, guessing and a lot of what if's. But hey it's what we do right? Each year, weeks, if not more than a month or so, some team or teams begin to lead off the conversation of who could be looking to make moves early in the NFL Draft.
In 2016, the Tennessee Titans and Cleveland Browns both were active early on swinging big deals with the Rams and Eagles. Both the Rams and Eagles made the necessary moves to get into better position to land the top two QB prospects in last year's NFL Draft.
The Titans and Browns both gave up their top pick in order to land more picks in the 16 draft and future drafts as well. And as of now, today, the New Orleans Saints look to be a team that could very well be a franchise that is looking to be on the move.
Not that the Saints are not always looking to move around in the draft, but when you look at where New Orleans picks first (11th overall) and what player could be a target for several teams (WR Brandin Cooks) it is conceivable that the Saints could very well set the tone and even dictate how the top of the 2017 NFL Draft unfolds.
Ok, I guess you can say I'm getting ahead of myself somewhat. But go back and look at what was going on a year ago at this time and you will find that Tennessee and Cleveland were in line to control the top of the draft.
It was largely speculated that the Titans would take Ole Miss OT Laramey Tunsil with the #1 overall pick in the 2016 Draft. It made sense in the fact that the Titans had drafted their new, franchise QB the year prior in Marcus Mariota. But then the Rams and Titans pulled off a trade sending Los Angeles to the top of the draft and instead of a offensive lineman coming off the board first it would be Cal QB Jared Geoff that would be taken 1st overall.
And the Rams move quickly prompted the Eagles to move up in the draft as Philly was also in search of a franchise shaping QB. The Eagles would swing a trade with Cleveland to pick up the #2 spot and true to form the Eagles also took a QB selecting Carson Wentz with the 2nd overall pick in the draft. So what once looked like a draft that was to be controlled by teams that were not in need of QB's, two clubs moved up to land the top two signal callers in the draft.
Now we fast forward to the Saints and the 2017 NFL Draft. New Orleans has said that they will answer phone calls about any type of offer for anyone. And right now the word out of the Titans and Eagles camps is that the player in question in Saints WR Brandin Cooks.
A former #1 (20th overall in 2011), Cooks named was mentioned in the middle of the 2016 season after he did not appear in the stats when the Saints scored 49 points and piled up 555 yards in their blowout win over the L.A. Rams.
Of course Coach Sean Payton squashed all of those so called reports and sources about Cooks supposedly being frustrated in the Saints Offense. And the season continued with Cooks again being one of the top pass catchers on the Saints Roster.
I’m not talking about a game seven in the conference Finals, or even the NBA Finals. I’m talking about the 2017 All-Star game and the major, historic transaction that went down minutes after that very same All-Star Game. In a 24 hour span the New Orleans Pelicans went from maybe-could-be to legit future contenders without even playing a single game.
When we look back on the day of February 19, 2017, it will forever be imbedded in the history books that New Orleans took the world by storm. Arguably the best young player in the NBA broke legendary Wilt the Stilt Chamberlin’s All-Star scoring mark as A.D. netted a NBA 52 points in the All-Star game.
And then A.D. as cool as the other side of the pillow gave and showed some love, saying 'this is for NOLA' when winning the All-Star Game MVP. As if that showtime performance in our own backyard was not enough, the news would only get bigger and better.
Minutes after the All-Star game was over word began to spread like wildfire as the New Orleans Pelicans pulled off a historic blockbuster trade that could help change the current landscape of the NBA.
By acquiring the best Center in the game in Demarcus Cousins, the Pelicans now have a one-two punch that no other team in perhaps league history has been able to obtain at such a productive time in a players career. In order to even compare what the Pelicans were able to do you would have to go all the way back and see how Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlin and Shaq were acquired. And yes, each of those players went on to win titles after being traded.
The NBA is currently a backcourt-driven league with Point Guards, Shooting Guards and Small Forwards making up the majority of the league’s premiere players. New Orleans has now put together a frontcourt duo that calls back to the old school days when the NBA was a league that was dominated by big, physical Centers.
With Anthony Davis and Demarcus Cousins on the same team, New Orleans now needs only to fill the gaps. No other team in the league has two players that score 25 points per game and average 10 rebounds per game!
The Golden State Warriors can lay claim that they are one of just two teams that has two of the top 10 players, with the Pelicans being the only other. Folks, simply put this is as big as it gets!
The Pelicans are now the team that the entire league, top analysts as well as past greats say that is the team that is set up for the long haul. Sure the Pelicans have to ink Cousins to a long term deal. And by making the playoffs this season, and showing some bright promise for the future, I think that deal is likely to get done.
Keep in mind that Demarcus Cousins has not been to the playoffs in the NBA and getting there in just his first 25 games with his new team would go a long way to the one called Boogie staying put in the Big Easy.
When it comes to really grabbing the attention of the locals and making sure that the community embraces the home team as one of their own, this move is the one that no fan can argue with. This move is major and this move more than ever before proves that the Pelicans are serious about building a winner and a team that competes on a yearly basis.
Local interest has picked up as fans obviously must be excited with over 300 season ticket packages sold within 35 hours of the trade being announced. So it looks like excitement is building and now a run to the playoffs could be the single most important thing in history from a basketball point of view. We shall see!
Baseball season is here, and college teams in the state of Louisiana are set to open the 2017 season this weekend.
“We’re ready to play,” said LSU Coach Paul Mainieri. Mainieri and his Tigers open the season as the 2nd ranked team in the nation. The Tigers will host Air Force at Alex Box Stadium to begin the season.
LSU has to start the season with several players dealing with injuries. “It’s part of the game. All teams have to deal with injuries and you have to understand that injuries are a part of the game. We feel like we have been able to overcome injuries in the past and we are confident we will do so again... I think we are a pretty balanced team across the board. I’m not sure if we are the best hitting team in the country, batting team or defensive team. But I do feel like we have a good balanced team with experienced pitching,” Mainieri said.
The Tigers will entertain Air Force on Friday and Sunday and also have a game with the Army Black Knights on Saturday. Coach Mainieri knows a thing or two about the Tigers first opponent of the season. “Air Force holds a special place in my heart because I spent six years there. Air Force has a good team and playing them to start the season is a good test for our team.” The Tigers lead the series with Air Force with a 2-0 all-time record.
Uptown, there is a new man in charge of the Tulane Green Wave, as Coach Travis Jewett enters his first season as Head Coach. “We’re excited. We have a lot of experienced players coming back and we have some power in our line-up.” Tulane is coming off a 41 win season in which the Wave played in the Oxford Regional.
Tulane will start the season hosting the Army Black Knights. The Wave will face Air Force on Saturday and finish up the weekend with Sunday game against Army.
Out on the Lakefront, the UNO Privateers are looking to improve even more in year two under Coach Blake Dean. UNO opens their season entertaining the Southern University Jaguars. In his first season at UNO, Dean led the Privateers to a 31-26 overall record with a 14-16 mark in Southland Conference play.
“I think offensively we are going to be alright. We’ve got some good hitters back with experience. We are trying to get our pitching rotation over the next couple of weekends before we go into conference play.”
Dean says that he’s learned a lot since a year ago when he entered his first season as the UNO Head Coach. “I really did not know what to expect. I had to learn a lot of things. Some things were more difficult than others to get used to. Now entering year two, there is a good level of excitement and we are all ready to see how much we’ve improved since last season.”
UNO wraps up the first weekend of the season with a Saturday home game against Illinois-Chicago followed by a Sunday Afternoon tilt against the Prairie View A&M Panthers.