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Kristian Garic

Talk sports and more with Kristian and T-Bob Hebert on "Double Coverage!" 

Weeknights 8pm-Midnight

Twitter: @kristiangaric
Email: kristian@wwl.com

Brees: Contract with Saints is a non-issue; talks concussion fight

The NFL has come under fire in the last week for intervening in concussion testing results and research. Congress was involved in several findings showing the NFL hiding or attempting to hide concussion research evidence.

Saints QB Drew Brees has some questions for the NFL. "They want to control every single investigation. They want to control the fight," he said. While he acknowledged that concussion issues are serious, Brees pointed the finger of blame back on the league.

When he was asked about the idea that he might sit out of an OTA because of his looming contract situation, Brees said that's "not even a consideration... I would love a long term deal to get done. I plan on playing for a few more years. I'm not stressing about it at all," Brees explained. So there is a chance for Brees and the Saints to work out a long term deal before the season starts, but a negotiation that spills into the season. "I don't like to talk about contracts during the season. If you go back to 2011, I was like, 'I don't want to deal with it.' That will be my approach again. If there is a deal to be done now, if it doesn't get done now there will be a deal to get done at the end of year."

Regardless of what goes down this off-season, Brees said it won't effect his approach to the work. "I'm playing year to year in terms of what I have to prove," he said.

Brees is in the final year of a five year contract he singed in 2012 that is worth over $100 million dollars and could be in line for a big pay day once again. "Whether I'm locked up for five years, or one year it's still the same approach in terms of what I have to prove. It doesn't effect my approach or preparation," Brees explained.

The Saints are back on the field during OTA's this week and steamroll toward mandatory mini camp in June.
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Kristian: LSU Baseball has the "it" factor - the possum factor?

Sometimes teams tend to believe and sometimes teams just win. LSU baseball has both.

The Tigers just win, in any way possible. LSU won their second game in the SEC tournament 5-3 over Florida early this morning in the Top of the 14th inning with Jordan Romero coming up with the big RBI single to pull ahead.

Sometimes there is a belief that no matter what, a team can win, and this is how the Tigers feel right now. LSU isn't intimidated by any team, they don't think anyone can beat them and they've proven that with 13 wins in their last 14 games, including two improbable wins in the later innings.

What might go un-noticed is Jake Fraley's at-bat in the 8th inning. Fraley fouled off several pitches to get the Tigers to a tie ball game and move it to 2-2. Some LSU baseball fans will scoff at this notion, but that was a key at-bat during this game. Really nice job from starting pitcher Alex Lange, who settled in nicely after giving up 2 runs in the first inning, and just found ways to get hitters out until he retired in the 7th.

LSU baseball just picks up their teamates. No matter what the situation the Tigers just fight, claw, and scratch their way to victory. This might be the most fun team to watch in Tiger baseball History. Yep, I said it!​

Photo via LSUSports.net
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Saints add WR Vincent Brown

The Saints have added veteran WR Vincent Brown to the mix - he signed with the team on the eve of OTA's beginning this week.

Brown, a journeyman 27 year old, is instantly the most senior WR on the Saints roster. I figured the team would look to add a veteran to compete with the young but relatively inexperienced pass catchers on the Saints roster.

Brown has played with Charger & Raiders after San Diego drafted him in the 3rd round in 2011. For his career Brown has 73 catches for 941 yards.
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Saints sign former Tampa Bay K Connor Barth

After releasing kicker Josh Scobee earlier this week, the Saints are signing veteran kicker Connor Barth to compete with Kai Forbath, according to ESPN.

Barth was a veteran tryout player last weekend, but impressed enough for the team to move on from Scobee. Barth has kicked in the league for 8 seasons, and has a career FG percentage of 84.7%.

Barth has spent time with four different teams in his 8 year career, and was released this year by Tampa Bay after the team drafted Florida State Kicker Robert Ayguayo in the 2nd round of the NFL draft. I speculated earlier in the week the Saints were likely to add Barth, and it's come to fruition.
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Saints sign former Tampa Bay K Connor Barth

After releasing kicker Josh Scobee earlier this week, the Saints are signing veteran kicker Connor Barth to compete with Kai Forbath according to ESPN.

Barth was a veteran tryout player last weekend, but impressed enough for the team to move on from Scobee. Barth has kicked in the league for 8 seasons, and has a career FG % 84.7%. Barth has spent time with four different teams in his 8 year career, and was released this year by Tampa Bay after the team drafted Florida State Kicker Robert Ayguayo in the 2nd round of the NFL draft. I speculated earlier in the week the Saints were likely to add Barth, and it's come to fruition.

Photo via USA Today
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Kristian: Saints tweak roster - Forbath to compete with Barth for kicker?

The Saints continue to tweak the roster, as the team announced a couple of roster moves today.

The Saints have signed cornerback Jimmy Pruitt, terminated the contract of kicker Josh Scobee and waived tackle Bryan Witzmann. What I find surprising here is now the Saints are left with one place kicker on the roster, and that is Kai Forbath. The team released two players and signed only one? What are they up to?

Well this is only me thinking out loud, but the team did have K Connor Barth in this past weekend for a three day tryout, and they could be entertaining the idea of brining him back to compete with Forbath for training camp. The Saints typically like to bring two kickers to camp.

Below is the team-issued bio on Pruitt.

Pruitt, 6-0, 203, participated in the club's rookie minicamp on a tryout basis from May 13-15 after a four-year career at San Jose State, where he played in 47 games and finished with 183 tackles, eight interceptions, 28 passes defensed, six forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries The San Diego, Calif. native wrapped up his college career in 2015 by claiming honorable mention All-Mountain West honors as he played in 12 games and recorded 53 tackles, three interceptions, seven passes defensed, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.
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Kristian: Saints sign 3 rookies, waive three more

After rookie mini camp this weekend, three try out (3 Day Contract) players impressed the team enough to earn a spot on the teams 90 man roster. The New Orleans Saints signed wide receiver Jake Lampman, linebacker Tony Steward and tackle Tyrus Thompson and waived defensive back Mike Caputo, quarterback Griffin Neal and wide receiver Shane Wynn.

Caputo signed with the Saints as an undrafted free agent, and was a bit of surprise cut this early. Griffin Neal, signed a three year contract with team after impressing this off-season at a local pro day. I figured Neal had more than an average chance of making the training camp roster.

Below is a quick bio on the three players that were signed to the 90 man roster.

Lampman, 5-11, 200, participated in the club's rookie minicamp on a tryout basis after a five-year career at Ferris State, where he finished his career ranked sixth all-time in school record books with 2,201 yards receiving. The Haslett, Mich. native wrapped up his college career in 2015 by claiming All-GLIAC accolades after leading Ferris State with 731 receiving yards on 52 catches (14.1 avg.) with eight touchdowns and adding 14 rushes for 124 yards and four touchdowns.

Steward, 6-1, 241, was signed by New Orleans after participating in the rookie minicamp on a tryout basis after spending his rookie season with the Buffalo Bills, who selected him in the sixth round (188th overall) of the 2015 NFL Draft out of Clemson. As a rookie, the Hastings, Fla. native played in seven games for the Bills and recorded two tackles (one solo). In four seasons at Clemson, he recorded 224 tackles, 4.5 sacks, two passes defensed, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.

Thompson, 6-5, 330, participated in the club's rookie minicamp on a tryout basis. Originally selected in the sixth round (185th overall) of the 2015 NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings out of Oklahoma, Thomas spent the second half of his rookie year on the Jacksonville Jaguars practice squad and then spent the offseason with Detroit. The Pflugerville, Texas native started 29 career games for the Sooners from 2012-14, including 24 his final two seasons. He opened all 13 games at left tackle as a senior for the Sooners and capped his college career with first-team All-Big 12 honors from conference coaches and second-team honors from the Associated Press.
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Kristian: Newest Saints show personality at rookie mini camp

Sheldon Rankins: He didn't have a twitter account until after he was drafted by the Saints in the first round last month - some might describe his 'low key' off the field lifestyle as boring. Rankins would describe it as just the way he's always behaved. "I'm here to play football. I would use 'laid back' but whatever word you (the media) choose is fine with me," Rankins said. Don't mistake the soft spoken Rankins for being boring on the field. He does have a mean streak. "I think you have to to play this game in the trenches. You have to have an edge to you," he explained.

David Onyemta: The 4th round defensive lineman the Saints are hoping will pay big dividends despite being a football puppy is working at defensive end, according to head coach Sean Payton. This weekend was the first chance we've had to interact with him face to face, and there is a genuine feel to his humility and quiet soft spoken nature. Onyemata could be the biggest story line this off-season because of the attention he garnered after being drafted in the 4th round from Manitoba University in Canada. ​

Daniel Lasco: We just talked about how Saints first round draft pick Sheldon Rankins is fine with the idea of being described as boring for his low key off the field approach. Lasco has some personality and far from boring in terms of an interview. He's got charisma, and not lacking confidence either. "I'm very blessed to have this opportunity. There is nothing on the special teams unit that I really can't do except for kick the ball." Lasco is going to fun to watch in the OTA's and Training Camp practices.

Try out players: During Rookie Mini Camp, teams can also invite veterans trying to catch on with a team for a 3 day try out. Sometimes teams just need to fill the roster in order to run a three day's worth of practices. Here are a couple of veterans in this weekend for a tryout. K Conner Barth (released by Tampa after the draft) is the only noteworthy veteran trying to earn a camp invite. The Saints currently have Josh Scobee this off-season and brought back Kai Forbath from last season. Among the notable rookies that are on a tryout with the Saints, Mississippi State WR De'Runya Wilson and Tulane Linebacker Royce LaFrance.
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Saints sign S Vonn Bell to four-year contract

Ahead of this weekend's rookie mini camp, the Saints have signed safety Vonn Bell, a second-round draft pick (61st overall), to a four-year contract. The team announced the move earlier today.

Bell, 21, was the Saints' second selection in the second round of the draft out of Ohio State. The 5-foot-11 inch, 205-pound Rossville, Ga. native appeared in 42 games with 28 starts in three seasons for the Buckeyes and finished his college career with totals of 176 tackles (116 solo), one sack, nine interceptions, one returned for a touchdown, 24 passes defensed and two fumble recoveries.

In 2015, Bell was a consensus first-team All-American and a Jim Thorpe Award semifinalist after recording 65 tackles, two interceptions, one brought back for a touchdown, 11 passes defensed and one fumble recovery. In 2014, he was an honorable mention All-Big Ten Selection for the College Football Playoff champions and finished second on the team with 92 tackles, one sack, six interceptions, 12 passes defensed and one fumble recovery.

The only remaining unsigned draft pick is 4th round draft pick DT David Onyemata from the University of Manitoba

Photo via USA Today
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Brees confident he'll be with Saints for a long time

When are the Saints going to extend Drew Brees' contract? Are they going to extend his contract at all?

The Saints quarterback says he's not concerned about it and that he feels great about his long term future in New Orleans. "I just understand these things take time," he said today. In most cases it takes more time than necessary. It's part of the process... there are so many factors that go along with negotiations. I'm very confident that I'll be here for a long time. I fee like I've got a lot of good years left, and a lot of good things left to accomplish with the team and the city."

Brees is in the final year of a five year contract he signed in 2012 - his cap figure this season is $30 million dollars and the Saints are tight against the cap.

#9 and his teammates are in phase two of the off-season conditioning program. "We got the guys we wanted to get, and I'm excited about getting everyone back together and getting the team together," he said of the teams off-season efforts so far.

I'm sure Brees is pretty happy after the team added tight end Coby Fleener as the prized free agent this spring, and also selected WR Michael Thomas in the second round. "I think what the 9 weeks is about is getting the team together, creating competition, and building the culture. At the end of the day you can have fancy schemes, but if you don't love being around each other it's hard to be successful, that's what this time of year is for. I like what I see thus far," Brees added.

The Saints are looking to improve on back to back seasons with a losing record and missing the playoffs in three of the last four years. Getting back to their winning ways of 2009/2010 and 2011 won't be easy with the fourth toughest projected schedule this season, playing the NFC and AFC west divisions all the while trying to dethrone the Carolina Panthers as three time NFC south champions. ​

To hear the full interview with Brees, click the link below.

FULL AUDIO: Brees talks offseason with Deke
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Kristian: Saints sign 3 draft picks, release 3 veterans

The team announced the signing of three draft picks this afternoon, in addition waiving three veteran players. Defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins, the club's first round draft pick (12th overall), wide receiver Michael Thomas, a second-round draft pick (47th overall) and running back Daniel Lasco, a seventh-round draft choice (237th overall), were all signed to four-year contracts.

The Saints released veteran RB Vick Ballard, DE Phillip Hunt, and FB Toben Opurum.

The Saints will hold rookie mini-camp this weekend at the teams training facility on Airline Drive.

Read the official release from the New Orleans Saints
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Saints sign LT Armstead to five-year extension

The Saints are signing LT Terron Armstead to a five year extension, a league source confirms. Armstead joined the Saints in the third round of the NFL Draft back in 2013.

The move is a no-brainer for a player that is widely considered one of the top left tackles and pass protectors in the league. The Saints are tight against the cap for this season but have a lot of room for next season. Armstead, hit with injuries, basically played in 13 games last year on one leg but was dominant anyway.

The terms of the extension were not disclosed but the Saints sent out a release with a statement from their newly signed Armstead "I'm extremely grateful and blessed for this opportunity," said Armstead. "I would like to thank Mr. and Mrs. Benson, Mickey Loomis, Coach Payton and the entire organization for the faith they have shown in me and my abilities. I would not be as fortunate as I am today if it were not for the faith and support of my family, teammates, coaches and the fans of the New Orleans Saints. I look forward to working hard along with my teammates to reach our ultimate goal of bringing another championship to this great city. I love this city!".

The 6-5, 304-pound Armstead was selected by the Saints in the third round (75th overall) of the 2013 NFL Draft from Arkansas Pine-Bluff. Armstead has become a mainstay at left tackle on the New Orleans offensive line since entering the starting lineup in week 15 of his rookie campaign in 2013. Over the span of his three-year NFL career, he has appeared in 33 games with 29 starts. During his first two full seasons in the starting line-up (2014-15), the Saints were the NFL's top offensive unit averaging over 407 yards per game.​

Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis is excited about getting a deal done. "Terron is a valuable and important piece to our offense and has shown that he is one of the top players in the game today. The dedication, talent and skill that Terron has demonstrated to begin his career both on the field and off the field have been an asset to the organization and the community and we are pleased that he will be a valuable member of our team for many years to come."

His teammates are already starting to tweet about the news.
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