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Deke Bellavia

"Sports Talk" Co-Host
Weekdays 4-8pm

Twitter: @dekebigchief
Email: bigchief@wwl.com
Posts from August 2013


Deke's Game-Day Preview: Saints vs. Dolphins
Noteworthy:  This is the final preseason game for both the Dolphins and the Saints.  The Saints can finish the preseason with a 4-0 mark for the first time in franchise history.  New Orleans was also 3-0 back in 2009 but finished preseason with a 3-1 mark.

The Dolphins are 1-3 this preseason as they have already played four preseason games.  The Saints and Dolphins have played each other 20 times in the preseason with Miami leading the series 13-7.  The Saints and Dolphins will see each other in the regular season as the two meet in the Superdome on Monday Night Football on September 30.

What to look for

The Cajun Cannon Bobby Hebert does think that there are a handful of spots left on the Saints roster.  “I think we are all interested to see which wide receivers make the team.  We know that Colston and Moore are locks, and I think Nick Toon and Kenny Stills are on the roster already too,” Hebert said.

Of the remaining players looking to make the Saints at the WR position, Courtney Roby, Preston Parker and Andy Tanner are all in the mix.  Last week Tanner hauled in two TD receptions in the Saints 31-23 win over Houston.

The shake out at WR could come down to which player or players can stand out on special teams. “Courtney Roby is a proven player on special teams, and Parker and Tanner can also help in that area as well,” Bobby told me.  “It’s going to be some hard decisions that have to be made.”

Coach Sean Payton has already indicated that his starting players will not see much action, if any at all.  The progression of rookie QB Ryan Griffin should continue as the former Tulane QB should get plenty of snaps after QB Luke McCown gets in the work that Sean Payton deems necessary.

Also the rotation on the Saints DL has been one that has produced some lesser known names that have become guys who the fan base look for.  DL Tyrunn Walker, Glenn Foster and Tom Johnson have all had their moments this preseason and during training camp.

Additionally, the continuing process of adding depth at LB is something to look for.  If we go by the players that started against Houston, the starting LB's will be Curtis Lofton, Ramon Humber and David Hawthorne will be three of the four starters.  But with the team losing Will Smith for the season, the Saints might give some snaps to who will be helping fill Smith's void.  

The new-look Saints defense has made a lot of strides since the end of July and now with veteran players like Will Smith not playing and the status of LB Jonathan Vilma up in the air, there will be a lot of new faces in the Saints line-up in 2013.
The bottom line here is to get out of the game fast and healthy.  I mean, there is no secret that the final preseason game is the most meaningless game in the NFL each season.  Sure there are players that can make that one final push to make the roster, but no star players generally play and the game is one that coaches want to look back on and know that none of their prime time players got hurt.

After the game tonight, be sure and tune in to the Point After as Bobby Hebert will predict which players he thinks will make the Saints 53 man roster this season.  
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Deke: 2 days to LSU vs TCU!
We are a little over 48 hours away from the Tigers and the Horned Frogs hooking up in Big D in one of the biggest games that kickoff the first weekend in college football.  Today’s features bring you the comments from some of the LSU players..

Anthony “Freak” Johnson talks about how the Tigers will have their hands full against a very good and veteran laden Horned Frogs offense.  

“One thing about (QB Casey) Boykin I see…when you look at us two years ago with Jordan Jefferson and the read scheme, that’s one of the things (Boykin) likes to do a lot…I’ve watched #4 (QB Casey Pachall) prior to him being suspended, and he’s a better pocket passer, but  honestly, Boykin is a great manager of the game, and he can run the football very well.

Johnson, the former O.P. Walker Chargers star, is set to have a breakout season after being claimed as the nation’s best defensive player in high school four years ago.

Johnson also talked about how hyped up he and his Tigers Teammates are to play in what he calls “Jerry’s World” which is the new Dallas Cowboys Stadium.  

“It’s such a great venue.  These young guys on this team, and these veterans, we’ve worked hard the whole off-season, and this summer, and in the weight room, and off the field, to better ourselves…And I think we’re ready to play football.”
And DB Jalen Mills chimed in on the Tigers match-up as well.

“We never will back down from a team,” Mills said.  “We always look to play a team at a very high level, that’s how we practice…So that’s how we’re going to play.  Rankings really don’t really matter to us, just worry about the end of the season.”   

Mills also talked about preparing for TCU’s offense.

“TCU is a heavy pass team, and they also have QB, who is an option-read quarterback, a dual-threat quarterback…So, we’ll probably have to watch out for him, but that will probably be in our game plan.  Just covering down the field a lot. “
LSU WR and former Lutcher standout Jarvis Landry also talked playing in “Jerry’s World.”  

“It’s a beautiful place and a beautiful venue, and against a great team in TCU.  (There’s) no stage bigger,” he said.
 
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Deke: New starters on LSU D, new look for LSU O
The Tigers now have just a couple of days before they fly to Dallas to take on 20th ranked TCU in the season opener for both teams. 

LSU Coach Les Miles talked this week about the dual challenges of the TCU defense while also having many first-time starters on his defense.

 “It’s a very quality scheme,” Miles said of the Horned Frogs D.  “Bill Clay, a hundred years ago at Oklahoma State when I was the head coach there, employed that, and we had great success with it.  We recognized the strengths and their ability to make adjustments.

LSU lost eight quality starters from last season’s defensive unit and this season a lot of new faces will hit the field for the first time as full time starters.  Coach Miles says he likes the versatility of his defensive linemen. 

“(DE) Jermauria Rasco, and (DE Danielle) Hunter, and (DE) Jordan Allen, those guys are really, really just interchangeable.  They all three…are very talented, and all three are going to see time on Saturday,” Miles said.

Also, Coach Miles talked about one of the more interesting things that Tigers Fans are looking forward to this season.  A new-look offense!  New LSU Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron will try and help the Tigers offense become more consistent and less one dimensional this season.

Miles says he likes the relationship that his new OC and QB Zach Mettenberger are forming, and he thinks that both are working hard daily to help the Tigers offense improve. 

“Zach expects more out of himself in his final campaign and…is really accepting of coaching.  And I think Cam is a very demanding coach, and one that is knowledgeable and that helps a guy that wants to compete at a very high level, or execute at a very high level, he helps them do that.  So  it’s really a great time in Mettenberger’s career that  Cam Cameron is on board.

If LSU is to be an improved passing team in 2013, it will call for a breakout season from wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., a sure-handed receiver and solid contributor in special teams last year.   

“I think he’ll have a great year, I think he’ll look forward to making bigger plays.  He’s a guy that returned two punts for touchdowns a year ago.  I think he’s a guy who had a very good year a year ago, but really could ask more of him, and that he would ask more of himself.  I think this is that kind of year.  I think he’s going to the field with the want to play big, and play big in every game.”
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Deke: Les Miles is pumped for TCU
As LSU Coach Les Miles put it yesterday at his first Lunch with Les yesterday, its “game week.”   12th ranked LSU will battle 20th ranked TCU this Saturday in Big D.  The excitement level is climbing even higher as we inch closer to Saturday’s kickoff between the Tigers and Horned Frogs.

Coach Miles talked about how his veteran Defensive Coordinator John “Chief” Chavis has groomed up a young Tigers offense.  

“As a veteran, and dealing with young guys, is really called upon to be his best in this two-a-day camp,” Miles said.  “He was.  It looks like the kind of defense we’re used to having here at LSU, I can’t imagine it playing any differently.”  

Miles also talked about the type of training camp his new Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron has had as well.

“I can tell you that our team with Cam on offense are excited and are looking forward to performing at a very high level.”

The Coach also spoke of how his team enjoys preparing for big games like this week’s match-up with TCU and Miles broke down what type of team his Tigers are facing in their season opener this Saturday in Dallas.

“It’s great to start a new season, there’s great enthusiasm around our building, finally in game week.  Now, we’re confronted with a very significant challenge in TCU, a team that our team recognized as a great challenge and voted to take,” Miles said.  

“(Coach) Gary Patterson does a great job on defense, offense, and special teams…Well prepared, a very talented team.  They have two very, very quality quarterbacks, (and) they return a bunch of starters from a successful team a year ago.”
One point of interest at the first installment of Lunch with Les was the way Coach Miles handled the questions about the current status of LSU RB Jeremy Hill.  Like he has done since he arrived at LSU, Miles simply kept family business within his Tigers Family.  

“I would not be surprised that he (Hill) makes the trip.  Again, the discipline will be internal, it will be something that we will deal with as a team.”

Be sure and listen to our special features covering the big game between the Tigers and Horned Frogs each day right here on the home of the Tigers, WWL Radio and WWL.com
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Deke: LSU Tigers confident on both sides of the ball
Well Tiger fans, we are just days away from the open of the 2013 season!  Each day this week, I’ll give you a little preview of what to expect in this Saturday’s matchup between LSU and the Horned Frogs of TCU. 

With just three returning starters on defense some feel that LSU's Defense may struggle some this season.  However, Tigers Defensive Coordinator John Chavis is confident his group will be just fine.

“It’s natural for some people to think they’re going to be down a little bit,” Chavis said.  “But we don’t think that way, we’re going to work to be the very best we can be.  And certainly, if we reach that level of the potential that we have in terms of the quality of the players, we’re going to be fine.”

LSU linebacker Lamin Barrow says fans will soon find out that there is much more to the LSU defensive line than Anthony “the Freak” Johnson.

 “You hear a lot about Anthony Johnson,” Barrow said, “and like I said, ‘Freak’ is my little brother.  So, you know, he’s proven, he’s going to do what he’s going to do, and he’s going to have a hell of a season.  But I think (other) guys that are going to surprise guys on the D-line.”

Meanwhile on the other side of the ball, with the addition of Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron, some think that the LSU offense is poised for a breakout season.  Offensive lineman La'El Collins says all the Tigers need is a little experience for the youngsters on the squad.

“We have the confidence, we have the potential, we have everything that we need,” he said.  “All we need is the game experience for the younger guys.  And that’s not going to be hard at all because we go up against the best defensive linemen in the country every day.”

Last season, LSU’s offense was inconsistent, to say the least. This year, starting QB Zach Mettenberger says all right components are in place for the Tigers to be successful.

“We got the key ingredients to have a great offense this year,” Mettenberger said. "We’ve definitely been working hard and studying to prepare for the first game against TCU.”

Mettenberger said there are a lot of reasons for excitement about the Tigers offense, including a veteran offensive line, skilled receivers, and the addition of a potent new offensive coordinator.  
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Saints-Texans should show how much the D has really improved
New Orleans Saints (2-0) @ Houston Texans (2-0)
Sunday August 24 3PM Kickoff Reliant Stadium

3 things the Cajun Cannon is looking for:

Can the Saints run the ball more effectively?

”We have run the ball with a good number of attempts, but we need to average more yards per carry.  The Texans have a good defense, and if we can rush the ball against them... to me that would be a good sign.”

A real test for the Saints Defense

 ”Houston has consistently had one of the best offenses in the NFL the last several seasons.  Our (Saints) defense has done a pretty good job overall the first two preseason games.  If the defense can do what it did against KC and Oakland in this game against Houston,that would be impressive.”

To be sacked or not to be sacked! 

”The Saints had 12 sacks total last preseason in five games.  Right now we have 11 sacks in two games.  Houston does a very good job of protecting QB Matt Schaub.  If we put pressure on him, then I know we are moving in the right direction.  On the flip side, Houston has a very good defense and one of the best players in the league in pass rusher JJ Watt.  This week's game against the Texans defense is by far the greatest challenge for our offensive line.”

What they are saying about this week's game

Saints Coach Sean Payton on the Houston Texans:

”Gary (Kubiak) and his staff have done a great job.  The Texans have become a complete team that plays complementary football on offense, defense and special teams.  We have come to know them over the years playing them in the preseason.”

Saints WR #88 Nick Toon on his approach to the Saints vs Texans Game:

”Any time you get the opportunity to line up against a great opponent, it's a great opportunity to go out there and compete.  For myself personally, the more snaps I take, the more comfortable I get.  I am just trying to learn and continue to get better every day, every game, every snap, every practice; and just try and learn and take something from each and every opportunity I get.”
 
The Big Chief's thoughts:

The Saints defense through the first two preseason games has been a pleasant surprise.  Now many folks feel like the matchup with the high powered veteran laden Texans offense will serve as a much better gauge of how much improved the Black and Gold defense is.

The beauty about numbers is that they are what they are.  Now you can break numbers down by first half yards allowed to second half yards allowed, first team defense, second team defense, etc.  All I will do here is give you the numbers the Saints defense has allowed through two preseason games.

The Saints have beaten Kansas City 17-13 and Oakland 28-20 in the preseason.  Kansas City's offense scored all of their points, whereas the Raiders scored a defensive touchdown in their loss to New Orleans.  So, subtract that defensive score and the Saints defense is allowing 13 points per game.

Kansas City gained 215 yards and Oakland had 185, for 400 yards total allowed in two games for an average of 200 yards per game.  The Saints have been excellent on third downs.  In two games, opposing teams have converted just eight of 29 on third downs.  That's an average of 28%.

The Saints defense has faced 24 offensive possessions in two games.  The defense has forced 13 punts, created two turnovers, two turnover on downs, allowed two touchdowns and four field goals.  The Saints defense has picked up 11 sacks and posted 15 tackles for a loss in their first two preseason games.

Last preseason the Saints had just 12 sacks in five preseason games.  Regardless of what happens against the Texans, by the looks of what we have seen in the first two games, the Saints defense is obviously more aggressive.  The Saints will not sit back and let teams come after them without returning the favor.

Last week's preseason results: 

New Orleans beat Oakland 28-20 and Houston beat Miami 24-17

Noteworthy: 

The Saints and Texans will meet for the seventh time in preseason play Sunday.  The six game preseason series is knotted up at 3-3.  Both teams are 2-0 in preseason play.  Both teams close out preseason play Thursday night as Houston plays at Dallas and New Orleans plays at Miami.

The Houston Texans are 2-0 in the preseason after wins over Minnesota 27-13 and Miami 27-14.  The Texans offense is 2nd in the league right now averaging 427 yards per game.  The Texans defense is fourth in the NFL preseason.
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Deke: Saying goodbye to a good man
4 hours and 48 minutes.  That's a short time, and a very long time, to say good-bye to the grandfather of my children.

Hundreds and hundreds, maybe a thousand people, who came to pay respects and say one final goodbye to a very good man.

If you are in SEC country and have ever eaten a bell pepper or strawberry, you have probably eaten one of the ones he grew.

Mr. Jack was one of the largest produce growers for many years.  You may have noticed his picture in all the Rouses grocery stores.

Sherrif Daniel Edwards, as well as State Rep. John Edwards, who could be our next Governor, spoke at the funeral of how Mr. Jack affected their lives.

I've never seen or been around anyone like him.  He could come up with anything and everything, and he was a giving man that never ever said no.

He always came through.  He was a family-first individual that had tremendous balance...balance of being a protector, a provider, a father, and a one-of-a-kind husband.  More people, starting with myself, could only hope to be half the man Mr. Jack was.

He was Jack Nicholas Liuzza, and he passed away Monday, August 19, 2013.



















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Big Chief's Game Day Preview: Raiders @ New Orleans
 Oakland Raiders (1-0) @ New Orleans Saints (1-0)

Friday August 16 7PM Kickoff WWL 870AM/FM 105.3 online at wwl.com

Last week’s results:  New Orleans beat Kansas City 17-13 and Oakland beat Dallas 19-17

Up next:  The Saints travel to face the Houston Texans Sunday August 24 while the Raiders return home to Oakland to take on the Chicago Bears next Saturday night. 

Series History:  The Saints have met the Raiders five times in preseason play with New Orleans holding a 3-2 edge.  The teams have also met 12 times in the regular season with the Saints leading the series 6-5-1.

Super Bowl Broadcast Crew:  Former Raiders Coach Tom Flores and former Raiders QB Jim Plunkett serve as color analyst for the Raiders Radio Network.  Flores was coach and Plunkett was QB when Oakland came to the Superdome to face the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl XV.

The underdog Raiders handled the Eagles 27-10 behind Plunkett’s three touchdown passes.  Plunkett was named the MVP of Super Bowl XV as the Raiders won their second Super Bowl. 

In the Raiders first preseason game, Oakland ran 62 offensive plays for 325 yards.  Oakland had 209 yards passing and 116 yard rushing in their 19-17 win over Dallas.  Eddy Carmona made a 23 yard field goal with 8:11 left in the game to give Oakland the two point advantage.

Raiders QB Matt Flynn completed 4-of-5 passes for 37 yards with a QB rating of 97.5.  Back-up QB Terrelle Pryor was 6-of-10 for 88 yards with one interception with a QB rating of 49.2.  Pryor also rushed for 31 yards averaging 10.3 yards per attempt on three carries. 

Oakland QB Matt McGloin had the best night of the Raiders QB’s as he was 4-of-7 for 78 yards with a TD and finished with a rating of 135.7.  The Raiders Defense limited the Cowboys to 291 yards of total offense in the win over Dallas. 

From the Saints point of view

1st Team Defense needs to get off to a better start:  Sure we want to see the Saints 1st team defense perform better against the Raiders 1st team offense compared to the way the Black and Gold did against KC.  New Orleans allowed 14 plays 80 yards and a TD to the first team Chiefs Offense.  However the Saints Defense played well overall.

In their last 11 offensive possessions the Chiefs ran 44 plays for a total of just 135 yards with six points scored. 

1st team offense looking to score a TD:  Speaking of first team units, the Saints 1st team offense has yet to score a TD. The Saints have not scored in either the Black and Gold Scrimmage and the Saints first team offense failed to score a TD against the Chiefs.   

Nothing special about those special teams:  Of the three phases of the game, offense, defense and special teams, the Saints by far looked bad covering kicks last week against the Chiefs.  New Orleans needs to show some improvement this week.
KC had three kick returns for 136 yards to go along with six punt returns for 106 yards.  The Chiefs totaled 242 yards in returns for an average of 27 yards per return.  The Saints will be tested this week.

Oakland did well returning kicks in their win over Dallas.  The Raiders had a total of five returns on kicks and punts combined for 118 yards.  That’s an average of 23.6 yards per return. 

What they are saying about the game

Saints QB #9 Drew Brees on if he is frustrated that the Saints Offense did not score a TD against the Chiefs.  And the Saints did not score a TD against the Black and Gold 1st team defense in the scrimmage.
 
“No, if you are just talking about in the scrimmage, we had one opportunity.  In the game, we had the two drives.  There is a lot that encompasses a practice, you have third down offense, you have red zone, and you have move the ball.  You have different situations.  I think we are progressing and progressing the way we want.  We have to continue to improve no doubt.”
 
Saints RB #23 Pierre Thomas on if he will play against the Raiders

“Definitely, I am preparing for it.  I am ready to play on Friday. I am ready to hit another team besides my own players.”

Saints CB #40 Chris Carr on what is the approach on special teams for the Raiders?

 “Everybody is in the same predicament. You can’t use that as an excuse.  But the ultimate goal is to get ready for the regular season games.  If you are a coaching staff, you want to feel like when you go into that first game, you have a confident kickoff and punt team.  It’s all about getting better.  By the time the fourth preseason game comes along, if you aren’t playing well by that point, then there is going to be something wrong. But I think it’s really important not to panic and not get overconfident.  We (can) go out there against Oakland this Friday and play very well, but that doesn’t mean anything.  You have to get better because once things go along, people are going to get more experience here and we are going to watch a lot of film and if you aren’t on your game, you are going to get beat.  It’s about being consistent and doing things consistently well.  That was just one game and we want to treat that as an anomaly and hopefully that’s not the norm and we do a lot better.”
 
Saints WR #84 Kenny Stills talks about his goals going into the Raiders Game. 
 
“Just to play mistake-free.  I had a few mistakes with the drop and a fumble and I just want to go out there and play mistake-free and make sure I’m getting to my alignment and doing my assignment.”
 
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Deke: Saints' Big T in the place to be!
He’s soft spoken, but he’s an all-business type guy.  Second year defensive lineman Tyrunn Walker is well on track to be in that number with the New Orleans Saints again this season.  

Bobby and I spoke with Saints DL Tyrunn Walker at Saints Camp.  “I feel good about where I am right now.  I feel like I learned a lot last season.  And hopefully that pays off this year,” he told us.

Big #75 is entering his second season in the NFL.  “I feel more comfortable out there.  I’m better than I was a year ago and right now our defense is improving each day.”

Walker played high school football at Westgate High School in New Iberia, then went the JUCO route to play for Jones County Community College.  “Yes I flew below the radar,” he said.  “ But the Saints coaches tell all of us that it does not matter how you got here.  How you play is what matters most.”

After Jones County Junior College, Walker transferred to Tulsa for his junior season.  In his two seasons at Tulsa, he finished with 84 tackles, 13.5 sacks, 11 pass deflections and 4 forced fumbles.

Tyrunn told me and Bobby that he feels blessed to be playing professional football so close to home, and that he is grateful to be able to see his family more often than not.  

Just before we talked to him, Walker had come off a good practice.  At Wednesday’s practice, Walker was in on one of the defensive stops during goal line work.  “It’s competitive out there for sure.  We know how good our offense is.  And being able to face them every day can only make us a better defense.”

Walker said that he is a Crawfish lover and he has come to love his home state Louisiana seafood.  Tyrunn also told us about the nicknames that were bestowed upon him by his peers over the years.

“They call me Ty or Big T.  That’s what some of my teammates call me.  My family calls me Tyrunn.”  

Tyrunn Walker was just another one of many players that came into the Saints organization dubbed a long shot player.  But, Walker was able to make enough plays to make a good impression and be a part of the Saints in 2012.

As far as 2013 is concerned.  “I just have to keep doing what coach (Bill Johnson) tells me to do.  And make plays when I’m in there.”  And if “Big T” keeps on keeping on, then he will be on a Saints Defense that looks to be in a youthful movement right now!   
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Deke: Bobby and Hokie break down Wednesday practice
Today, the most physical portion of training camp occurred when the Saints worked on goal line Situations.  A 12-play period saw live action as the Saints got after each other, with the saints offense scoring 8 times, while the defense had four stops.
 
Below is the breakdown of what our resident pros had to say: 
 
Bobby’s Take on the Saints working on goal line: 
  "When the defense did stop the offense, they got into the backfield,” Bobby noted.  Hebert pointed out that on three of the four defensive stops, those stops occurred in the Saints backfield.  “They (defense) got doo penetration on those plays.  That was encouraging.”
 
Bobby was impressed with Saints DL Tyrunn Walker.  Walker thrust himself into the Saints backfield, stopping RB Pierre Thomas for a two-yard loss.  “Walker is doing good.  He came out of nowhere last season to make the Saints Roster and now he looks more comfortable out there this season.
 
Hebert said the worst part of goal line play was that of the Saints linebackers.  “They (the LB’s) were getting burnt.” 
 
Saints Defensive Coordinator Rob Ryan was very vocal, to say the least, at this morning’s practice.  Ryan was not pleased with his defense giving up eight scores on 12 plays ran in goal Line play.  During practice, Bobby pointed out Saints LB Coach Joe Vitt getting on to his LB’s.
 
Bobby said that the most impressive tackle during goal line work came when LB Eric Martin stuffed RB Travaris Cadet.  On the flip side, Bobby said when the offense did score, they scored with relative ease.  “Other than the run by FB Austin Johnson that was a close call, the offense scored without trouble.”
 
Later in team drills, back-up QB Luke McCown hit new Saints WR Patrick Crayton for a 15 yard Red Zone TD.  OLB #97 Baraka Atkins had a sack on QB Seneca Wallace.  And, #94 Cam Jordan also had a sack this morning on QB Seneca Wallace. 
 
Kicker Garrett Hartley went long this morning during work on field goals.
  The veteran Kicker was 2-for-2 on making 55-yard field goals.  But, Hartley came up a little wide to the left on a 58 yard attempt.  The kick had the distance, but it was a slight hook. 
 
Akiem dropped the ball - Again! 
 

Yes another day at Saints Camp brings another unique observation from our resident pro and former Saints QB Bobby Hebert.  After the Saints took a short water break following their work on goal line situations, the Saints then worked on special teams.
 
During special teams work, the Saints practiced kickoffs and kickoff coverage.  And that’s when I heard Hebert say “Deke, Hakim dropped the ball.  Say what?  What Bobby was telling me is that Saints WR Saalim Hakim dropped the ball when fielding a kickoff.  Of course, Hebert was referencing back when the Saints won their first ever playoff game when Saalim’s older brother, Az-Zahir Hakim, dropped a punt in the Saints' 31-28 win over the Rams in the 2001 Saints Playoffs. 

Saalim did redeem himself later with a nice return that drew cheers from fans at practice this morning. 
 
Hokie’s Call
 

The sky was darker than normal and the temp at this morning’s practice was in the upper 70’s to low 80’s.  “Anytime the sun is not out you feel better,” said Hokie.  Hokie told me that back in his playing days, whenever there was a little cloud cover he and his teammates were a little more fired up to practice.
 
Today the most action at Saints Practice came when the team worked on toal line situations.  Hokie got a little excitement in his eyes during Goal Line play. 
 
“That was as much action as we saw in the entire Black and Gold Scrimmage.  I thought when the offense scored they were good TD’s and when the defense held the offense out they shut down the run," Hokie told me.
 
Hokie did say that he was disappointed with the Saints defense and their ability to pass cover during goal line play.  “I was concerned about how wide open the players were when the Saints passed the ball down on the Goal Line.  That is something that they will work on.”
 
The Big Chief’s final analysis
 

Today Bobby and I spoke with Saints DL Tyrunn Walker.  Big #75 is entering his second season in the NFL.  “I feel more comfortable out there.  I’m better than I was a year ago and right now our defense is improving each day,” he told us.
 
Walker played high school football at Westgate High School in New Iberia, then went the JUCO route to play for Jones County Community College. 
 
“Yes I flew below the radar," he said.  "But the Saints Coaches tell all of us that it does not matter how you got here.  How you play is what matters most.”
 
Tyrunn Walker had a nice career at Tulsa in 2010 and 2011 before being picked up by the Saints after the 2012 NFL Draft.  
 
Right back at ya!
 
I know that the players and coaches don’t pay any attention to what the media says.  But it seem like to me that the Saints offense was fired up today a little more than usual, after all the talk this training camp has been about how much improvement the Saints defense has made.
 
This morning TE Jimmy Graham spiked the ball rather hard I might add after scoring a TD.  And later, WR Lance Moore did a little extra something-something after he hauled in a nice pass.  “It’s always competitive out there.  Every time we have the ball we want to score,” said Moore. 
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Deke: Saints DE Glenn Foster hoping to make ''Big Impact''
He has a look of confidence typically not seen in undrafted rookie free agents.  But, then again, not many have a big impact on their team.  Saints DE Glenn Foster is that big impact!

“In college I had a nick name ‘Mr. Impact.’  I was explosive and I showed flash that I was capable of making big plays,” said young Glenn Foster to Bobby Hebert and me, when we asked if he had a nickname. 

Impact would be quite fitting for Foster.  He made his NFL debut last week with the Saints.  In his first NFL game, Glenn Foster had a sack and forced a fumble in the Saints 17-13 win over the Kansas City Chiefs.  Now, as the Saints get ready to face the Oakland Raiders, Foster looks to take another step forward.

Foster got his shot with the Saints after a nice career in the Big Ten playing for Illinois.  “Coming out of high school I was under the radar.  I got a chance to play college ball at Illinois and played on the D-Line,” said an enthusiastic Foster.  

Foster had a solid senior season, and recalls his best game as a college football player.  “It was against those Buckeyes…the Ohio State game,” smiled Foster.  “I had two sacks and that was my best game of my college career.”  Foster had two sacks, seven tackles including three tackles for losses. 

Foster turned heads at the NFL Scouting Combine this winter, when he ran a 4.8 forty yard dash and did well in all drills.  But even with all of the hype from the Combine, Foster did not hear his name called NFL Draft weekend. 
“I had a fourth or fifth round draft grade,” said an innocent Foster. “I ended up not being drafted.  But it’s not how you get here (NFL), it’s what you do while you’re here.”  Foster was very disappointed, but he always felt confident he’d get a chance with an NFL team.

Foster got his chance as a member of the Saints undrafted free agent class.  He agreed to terms with the Saints April 28th.  Now the young defensive lineman from Chicago likes his standing with the Black & Gold.  “I feel pretty awesome,” said the young, hopeful defensive end.  “I feel like every day at practice I’m getting better.  Technique, fundamentals, watching film, I’m just working on correcting mistakes and doing whatever it takes to become a better player.”
But, does Glenn Foster really have a chance to make the Saints roster?  “Hell yes he has a chance,” said Bobby Hebert.  “Glenn is playing with a lot of emotion and he brings a needed energy to the Saints defense.”

So far so good for Glenn Foster, this promising young NFL player.  The Saints have three preseason games left and many practices in between before final cuts are made later this month.

What does Glenn Foster need to do to make the team?   “Continue to take Coach Bill’s (Saints Defensive Line Coach Bill Johnson) coaching,” said Foster.  “Right now I feel like I’m on a great path.  If I take a step back, I make sure I take two steps forward the next day.  I have to keep learning the playbook and apply it every day.” 

It’s still early; the pre-season has a long way to go.  But on his current path, Glenn Foster may just be the “Mr. Impact” the Saints defense needs to help them become a much better unit in 2013.
 
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Deke: Bobby Hebert impressed by D at Tues. practice
The Cajun Cannon, Bobby Hebert takes notes at each Saints Practice.  I go over the notes and jot a few down for you.  Writing down what Bobby watches can only give you a little bit of what is in the mind of the Cajun Cannon.  So for a full description of the Cannon’s notes and a complete breakdown of today’s practice get the latest from the horse’s mouth today at 4:00 p.m. with us on Sports talk live from the Saints Training Facility on Airline Drive!  

Now, here are some of Bobby’s notes from this morning’s Saints practice:

OLB Martez Wilson was back on the field today.  #95 Wilson has been out for a couple of weeks and was in a red jersey.   When a player has on a red Jersey it means that the player is not to be involved in contact drills.  

The Cajun Cannon continues to see progress being made on the Saints defense.    "The defense is playing with a lot of emotion.  You can see guys talking to each other even in the individual drills.  Players look like they are more fired up."

In one-on-one drills, WR Lance More was blanketed by CB Jabari Greer.  Greer put excellent coverage on #16, but Greer dropped what could have been an interception.

TE Jimmy Graham dropped a fade route.  DB Malcolm Jenkins was on Graham, but it was just a flat out drop on Graham's behalf, according to Bobby Hebert.

In seven-on-seven drills QB Drew Brees hit WR Lance Moore down the middle of the field for a 30-yard gain.  Moore had a good match-up against LB Curtis Lofton, beating him down the middle of the field.

Later in the team portion of practice, tempo was a strong emphasis this morning.  "Coaches were telling players to hurry up.  I heard Coach Joe Vitt telling players to get lined up.  And the same type of up-tempo play was done on offense as well," Bobby said after practice.

DB Malcolm Jenkins may have had his best practice of camp thus far.  The veteran defensive back from Ohio State came up big a few times this morning.  "He (Jenkins) had a good pass defense in the first team drill,” Bobby said. “And later, Jenkins picked off QB Drew Brees during the two-minute drill."

Only Bobby can come up with this stuff - The Johnson's!  Yes the Cajun Cannon has a mind like no other.  When taking down what Bobby's notes were this morning he tells me Deke, the Johnson's were heard from this morning.  I'll try and explain.  

During one play LB Rufus Johnson blew up a play in which FB Austin Johnson was the lead blocker.  Stay with me people… On with more Johnson's.  And DL Tom Johnson tackled RB Travaris Cadet for a two yard loss on the very same play.  And do you know who Tom Johnson's position coach is?  Bill Johnson.  The Cannon said, “I'll bet our (Saints) Johnson's are better than yours!”

More Defense - The Saints defense was solid again on third-down play this morning.  The Saints defense held the offense to 0-for-3 on third down conversions on their first three third down situations.

"The defense won seventy percent of the time this morning.  I like the way the defense is moving around right now."  Hebert said that DL Akiem Hicks also had a disruptive practice this morning.

"Hicks had two sacks on Drew Brees, he blew up a screen play and batted down a pass.  Hicks is having a very good camp."  LB Roman Humber also came up with a sack this morning.

Bobby noted that back-up QB Seneca Wallace hit RB Mark Ingram on a wheel route for about 15 gain.  Then, on a third and eight, Wallace hit WR Andy Tanner on what would have been a 60 yard TD.

WR Preston Parker hauled in a 40 yard pass during team drills and the practice ended with work on the two minute drill.  QB Drew Brees hit TE Jimmy Graham for a 30 yard gain during the two minute drill.

And on the final play of two minute work, DB Malcolm Jenkins made a diving interception on QB Drew Brees.  "Malcolm was impressive this morning.  He was all over the field," Hebert said.

Hey there rookie! - Today the  Cajun Cannon and I were able to catch up with rookie DE Glenn Foster.  Foster was very entertaining and he's off to a good start so far during training camp.

"I'm just trying to get in there and make plays," a smiling, confident Foster told me.  Foster is a un-drafted rookie free agent out of the University of Illinois.  

Not many Who Dat's knew Foster before his outing against KC last Friday.  The 6-4 285 DE had a sack and forced a fumble in the Saints 17-13 win over the Chiefs.  Foster is trying to land a spot on the Saints Roster and so far he has made his presence felt.  

You can listen to our entire conversation with Glenn Foster today on Sports Talk starting at 4PM here on WWL Saints Radio.  
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Deke: Bobby Hebert and Hokie Gajan recap Monday's practice
It was the next-to-last practice for Who Dats to see their Black and Gold heroes at Training Camp. The Founding Father of the Who Dat Nation was on hand as well:  

On the Saints defense:  Bobby says says the Saints defense is making strides so far during training camp.  "I think the defensive line is coming around.  I like the way the secondary is progressing.  But I am a little concerned about the linebackers."  

At today's practice:  Bobby talked about the Saints working on short-yardage situations.  "There were 12 plays run.  The offense won seven out of the 12 plays.  I think when it was the first team offense against the first team defense it was tied 3-3."

Bobby says the short yardage work was a good drill that featured a good bit of physical play.  Hebert said that rookie defensive lineman John Jenkins had a good run stuff on RB Travaris Cadet keeping Cadet from picking up a first down.

Bobby's take on the Saints special team's struggles in last week’s preseason game against Kansas City:   "Well, they (Saints) struggled last year.  That area (coverage units) has to improve this season."  

Bobby said that the Chiefs crushed the Saints in punt and kick returns as KC piled up 242 yards in returns.  The Chiefs had three kick returns for 136 yards for an average of 45.3 yards per return.  And KC added another 106 yards on six punt returns, averaging 17.7 yards per return.

"I know that Coach Payton will be looking to see how much the team has learned from the first preseason game to the Raiders Game this week.  And he will be looking to see which players have improved from the first game."

Hokie's Call on today's practice

"They (Saints) worked on short yardage situations.  It was about 75% live and the Saints ran the ball right up the gut.  At times the defense took the running backs down to the ground, and other times they did not."  Hokie said that he thinks the Saints are right on schedule as far as what they want to accomplish during training camp.

"I'd have to say that they (Saints) are about right where they need to be.  Coach Payton is still installing his playbook and he and his staff will continue to follow their schedule as planned."

Gajan on the Saints 17-13 win over KC:  

Hokie says that the Saints showed him that they are committed to running the ball more.  "I think this team will run the ball more this season.  I mean when is the last time we (Saints) ran the ball 36 times in a preseason game?"  

Gajan said, that other than the breakdown on special teams in covering punts and kicks, that he was pleased with the Saints’ effort against Kansas City.  "I saw no glaring mistakes other than on special teams coverage.  I thought our defense settled down after that first drive by the Chiefs.  There are some mental busts that took place but those mistakes will be corrected."

The Big Chief:  After further review!

Well all weekend long all I heard mostly was about how the Saints first-team defense faired against the Chiefs first-team offense.  Give credit where credit is due.  The Chiefs first team offense did gash the Saints first team defense for 80 yards on 14 plays and a touchdown.  

But after that first drive the Saints defense put the clamps down on the Chiefs.  Kansas City finished the game with 215 yards of total offense on 58 offensive plays and 13 points.

When you crunch the number you can see that the Saints defense did improve throughout the game.  In their final 11 drives of the games the Chiefs ran 44 plays for a total of 135 yards.

Kansas City was held to just six points in that same time span and gained on average just three yards per play.  Food for thought!  
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