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Steve Geller

"WWL First News" Sports Anchor
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"Sports Talk" Producer
Weekdays 4pm-8pm

Twitter: @stevegellerWWL
Email: steve@wwl.com


Les Miles: "I OD'ed on coffee"

After not feeling well this morning and going to the hospital as a precaution, LSU head football coach Les Miles is back on campus and with the team.  

Miles is scheduled to meet with the media after this evening's workout.  Miles told WBRZ in Baton Rouge his little scare was due to the fact he "OD'ed on coffee."

Time to switch to decaf, Coach!
 
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Steve: Les Miles misses "Lunch with Les" after being taken to hospital

UPDATE 4:48PM - Les Miles is back at work, saying he felt ill this morning because he "OD'ed on coffee."

Previously... 
Its game week for the LSU Tigers as they get set to open the college football season at home against McNeese state on Saturday.  Head coach Les Miles was scheduled to talk with the media at his weekly "Lunch With Les" avaliabilty, but things did not go as planned.

After a 40 minute delay, LSU Director of Athletics Joe Alleva announced that Miles is "under the weather" and has been taken to the hospital on a "precautionary" basis.  Alleva added that Miles is fine and will be available after the team's practice today.

Stay tuned to find out if that is the case.
 
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Steve: My 53-man Saints roster prediction

By 3pm tomorrow, teams must trim their rosters down to 75. Then, after the final preseason contest, things get whittled down to the 53 that will be the guys on ball clubs to open the regular season.  With preseason game #3 now in the books, I feel like I have a pretty good idea where Saints players stand, and have listed what I would do if I were in charge.  There are a few questions concerning injuries which could alter things, but this is what I came up with: 

OFFENSE

3 QBs: Drew Brees, Ryan Griffin, Garrett Grayson     

4 Running Backs: Mark Ingram, Khiry Robinson, CJ Spiller,  Marcus Murphy

1 Fullback: Austin Johnson

3 Tight Ends: Ben Watson, Josh Hill, Orson Charles 

5 Wide Receivers: Marques Colston. Brandin Cooks, Joe Morgan, Brandon Coleman, Willie Snead

3 Tackles: Terron Armstead, Zach Strief, Andrus Peat 

3 Guards: Jahri Evans, Lelito, Senio Kelemente 

1 Center: Max Unger

 
DEFENSE

4 Defensive Ends: Cam Jordan, Akiem Hicks, Tavaris Barnes, Bobby Richardson  

3 Defensvie Tackles: Kevin Williams, John Jenkins, Tyeler Davison

9 Linebackers: Stephone Anthony, David Hawthorne, Hau’oli Kikaha, Kasim Edebali, Davis Tull, Anthony Spencer, Dannell Ellerbe, Ramon Humber, Henry Coley

6 Corners: Keenan Lewis, Brandon Browner, Delvin Breaux, Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Damian Swann, PJ Williams

5 Safeties: Kenny Vaccaro, Rafael Bush, Jairus Byrd, Vinnie Sunseri, Pierre Warren

1 Kicker: Dustin Hopkins   

1 Punter: Thomas Morstead   

1 Long Snapper: Justin Drescher
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Know Your Enemy: Houston Texans Preseason game #3

Sunday, August 30, 3 p.m. on 870AM/105.3FM
Mercedes-Benz Superdome
Line: Saints (-3.5) Over/Under: 44

The team some think is a QB away from being a serious Super Bowl contender to represent the Atlantic Football Conference comes to the Superdome on Sunday. The Houston Texans finished 9-7 and in 3rd place in the AFC South a year ago.  That is impressive considering the guys they had under center were: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Case Keenum, Ryan Mallett & Tom Savage. Thank your lucky stars Who Dat Nation that New Orleans has Drew Brees.

The Texans offense finished ranked 17th in the NFL (5th rushing / 24th passing), while the defense ranked 16th (10th vs. the run / 21st vs. the pass).

Defensive end JJ Watt has shown us he can do just about anything on or off the football field and was in the conversation for league MVP.  He did win defensive player of the year after tallying 78 tackles, 20.5 sacks, 1 interception that he ran back 80 yards for a TD, 12 forced fumbles, 37 passes defended, a safety and a blocked kick. But wait there is more! The 6ft5, 289 lb. stud also caught 3 passes for a total of just 4 yards, but the result of each catch was a TD.



Unfortunately Watt, defensive tackle Vince Wolfork, and corner Jonathan Joseph likely won’t play in preseason game #3.  None of them have played in the Texan’s exhibitions yet, and we should not expect that to change. It means we should see Dr. Drew & Krewe operating to precession and dissecting the Texans D with ease.

The Texans offense will also not be operating at full capacity be without star running back Arian Foster, who is dealing with a groin injury and some offensive linemen who are nicked up.  In case you haven’t head, the Saints defense has not managed a sack thru 2 preseason games.  The pass rush is a MAJOR concern for the Black & Gold heading into this season and better show us something in this contest.

Brian Hoyer "The Destoryer" has been named Houston’s starting QB for now, with Ryan Mallett as the #2.  Neither is going to strike fear in the hearts of a defense and the Saints unit could use a big confidence boost as they get ready for the regular season opener.

A player I am anxious to see for the Texans is former LSU Tiger Alfred Blue.  With Foster hurt, Blue has a chance to take over as the top running back for the Texans.  

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In his rookie season last year Blue rushed for 528 yards with 113 receiving yards and a combined 3 TDs. He also contributes on special teams a blocked a punt, then took it to the house for the score against the Redskins.  

Houston is a solid ballclub, but without Watt even taking the field they are not the same.  Expect both the Saints 1st team offense and defense to have their way with the Texans and roll to the Black & Gold’s 1st preseason win.

 
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Steve: Josh Morgan making his case to make Saints roster

The coaches and players say they still aren’t looking at who is going to make the 53 man roster yet - but I sure am. A position group that has fascinated me before camp even started was wide receiver. Brandin Cooks and Marques Colston were locked in at the teams’ #1 and #2 options, but after that it was a mixed bag of six young, unproven guys and three veterans fighting for one of the 3 or 4 reaming spots.

One of those vets is Josh Morgan, who is about to begin his 8th season in the NFL.   He just turned 30 years old in June and spent time with the 49ers, Redskins and the Bears.  His numbers aren’t eye popping, as Morgan has 209 career catches for 2,558 yards and 12 touchdowns. Those stats don’t scream that he’ll be a big threat, but could play a similar role to what Robert Meachem served when he came back for a 2nd stint in Black and Gold.

I could see Morgan carving out a role in this offense thanks in large part to his blocking prowess, which Sean Payton always mentions when talking about him, as well as his short to intermediate catching ability.
“I feel good. I feel like I make every play that comes my way,” says Morgan. “I feel like in practice you get more comfortable with the offense, and you learn things on the go. You’re supposed to make mistakes in practice, but in the games I feel like I make every opportunity that comes my way.”
 
I don’t know about EVERY opportunity.  He did have a reception punched out in the game against the Patriots that resulted in a turnover, but knows it’s something he can learn from.

“Just getting it (the football) high, getting it higher,” Morgan said about the play. “I had it too low and I was trying to set up another move to beat the 2 guys that were in front of me.  But it’s always the guy behind you that gets the strip.  So just getting it higher; holding it tighter.”
 
Right now, in my projections I have Josh Morgan making the Saints 53 man roster.  He has definitely outperformed the likes of Seantavious Jones and Nick Toon, plus adding another guy who has “been there, done that” besides Colston is vital. If I had to guess, I would pencil Morgan in for 20 catches, 300 yards and 2 touchdowns.  Add in his blocking ability and I feel those contributions are worthy enough to be the Saints #4 wide receiver. 
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Steve: Ambition fuels Saints DE Akiem Hicks

There weren’t many positives to take away from the Saints defense last year.  The unit failed in just about every way possible, finishing 31st overall in the NFL.  Trying to pin the blame on one player, position group or even a coach is impossible. 

One of the biggest letdowns was the Black & Gold pass rush, which seemed incapable of applying pressure on opposing quarterbacks, and in turn further exposed a secondary that was lacking top notch talent. In 2013 the Saints managed to rack up 49 sacks but saw that number plummet to 34 a year ago.

A player most thought would have big impact in that area was defensive end Akiem Hicks. He was entering his 3rd season in the NFL and was dubbed by a handful of NFL analysts as a prime candidate for a “breakout” year.   Instead, he saw a drop in the number of tackles and sacks while being a non-factor in most contests. 
 
He entered training camp this year looking much slimmer after dropping 20 pounds, but wound up getting nicked up the final week in West Virginia.  Hicks says that he and the team knew all along that he would play in preseason game #2 against the Patriots though.  Is it safe to assume that it was nothing major bothering him; was him missing practice just precautionary?

“I couldn’t even say precautionary,” Hicks responded. “It was just more so taking care of what we had to take care of.” 
 
 Hicks definitely took care of his weight as mentioned.  He is now 325 pounds and was asked if the lighter load has added to his quickness.

“I felt fast at 345 to tell you the truth,” he said. “But, there is definitely a difference and it’s something that I focused on this offseason making sure that I came back.  We had a lot of things that didn’t go right last year and you look at yourself and you try and figure out what things weren’t perfect for you.  So thought that was one of the things I could improve on myself and that’s we did.” 

The Saints really need Hicks to realize his potential this season.  He might have come up short last year because of an ankle injury which ultimately landed him on injured reserve at season’s end.   Also motivating him will be the fact he is entering a contract year.  Living up to being New Orleans 3rd round selection in 2012 could see his bank account balloon rather than his waistline.   

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Steve: Earning teammates' respect key for Saints LB Anthony

Of the two Saints first round draft picks this year, the one drafted 31st overall has looked more like the 13th overall selection.  Linebacker Stephone Anthony has made a much easier transition to the pro game then offensive tackle Andrus Peat; but at least Peat has shown improvement.

Anthony has come out the gates looking like the stud the Saints defense has been in desperate need of. He stands 6ft2, 236 lbs. and helped spearhead a Clemson defense that finished ranked 1st overall in college football last year. In his senior season Anthony tallied 70 tackles, 10 for loss, 2 sacks, 1 interception and 1 forced fumble.
 
If you ask him how he thinks he is doing in practice, the 23 year old will say OK, but points out that there is always something to improve upon. It almost sounds like Anthony doesn’t want to be told how well he is doing.

“Not right now,” he said while laughing. “Not right now, man. It’s a process and I’m doing my best to enjoy the process.  I’m trying to grow a little bit every day. Find one thing to get better and I’m just trying to chop the wood.”

I got a good laugh when the Cajun Cannon Bobby Hebert asked the rookie after practice if he envisions himself getting on teammates to generate more of a pass rush. You know, fire up his teammates to get after the quarterback.

“I think there is a time and place for everything,” the rookie responded. “You know, you got big Kevin Williams who’s played 13 years, so you definitely don’t want to step on his toes and Cam Jordan... but there’s a time for that and whenever the time presents itself I think I’ll be ready to step up and say some things like that. But, I’ve got to earn a little more respect.”

Smart kid, he knows his place right now. You cannot expect a newbie, even a first round draft pick, to start barking orders at guys who have been in the league or on the team for a number of seasons.    

That’s not to say that he cannot earn the needed respect this season. Anthony’s play has impressed everyone at training camp and could very well wind up being the Saints starting middle linebacker come week 1 of the regular season. As a matter of fact I’d be willing to bet he is.

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Steve: Saints WR Coleman coming into his own

There was a lot of talk heading into training camp about how Brandon Coleman had a great opportunity in front of him to seize one of the Saints top wide receiver positions.  Well, he has definitely delivered and I would say he has assured himself a spot on the 53-man roster, but he is taking more of the modest approach. 

“I’m happy, but I’ve got a long way to go”, Coleman says. “I’m just trying to stay consistent, do my job and just keep putting days together that I can be proud of. Just put my name on it.”

To me, Coleman has put his name on the 3rd receiver spot and has make the offense look good lining up with Brandin Cooks and Marques Colston.  There’s a lot to like about the triple-C combo. You have size, speed, reliable hands and a proven vet. Does Coleman hope that’s how they line up come game 1 of the regular season? 

“Yeah…I hope so,” he replied.  “I am trying to just do what I can. Just prove myself; that I know the position. That I can go out there and play fast and get the opportunity to go out there and make plays.”
 
The Saints were able to land the big 6'6" pass catcher as an undrafted free agent.  It was a bit of a surprise the Rutgers product did not get selected on draft day, but teams shied away from him due to a knee injury.  

“It’s been a development process,” Coleman stated.  “I spent most of last year on the practice squad just developing and learning the system as well. I think that this time around; the whole summer, OTAs, minicamp, training camp, right now I just think it’s that time to take that next step forward.” 

He’ll have another chance to take that step forward Saturday night when the Saints take on the Patriots in the Superdome for preseason game #2.  While he has stod out at practice, Coleman was only targeted twice in the 1st preseason game against the Ravens.

“Yes, that was really us,” coach Sean Payton responded. “I talked with him afterwards. I think you’ll see him. He is healthy and there was no specific rhyme or reason. Obviously there are a lot of guys at that position, but he has been playing too well and we feel like you’ll see him get a lot of work this week with the ones. You’ll see in the game Saturday with the ones.”

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Steve: Saints switch up schedule ahead of Pats visit

Well instead of being off on Tuesday, the Saints have switched things up and opted to take a break Monday instead.  It’s the final week of training camp in West Virginia as the ballclub prepares for preseason game #2 Saturday night in the Mercedes Benz Superdome against the Patriots.

Speaking of the defending champs; they will be taking part in joint practices with the Black and Gold on Wednesday and Thursday this week at the Greenbrier. Both coaches and players really enjoy getting to go up against another team because it is a different look for the offense and defense. The competition level also gets ramped up another notch because you get to face an actual opponent instead of fellow teammates.

Sean Payton was asked if he’s learned a thing or two from Pats head coach Bill Belichick over the years.

“Yeah, I would say this - I’ve said this before, back in 2006 - in any business, you would study closely who is having success? And they have been a team we study to see the sustained power they have had year in and year out has been pretty impressive,” replied Payton.

“Any time we get a chance to work with them, 2010, 2012, again this year, it gives us a great opportunity.  I know this, I know how he is going to handle it with his players and we felt coming off the times we’ve worked together it has been real positive.  We’ve already gone through the practice schedule for next week.  We kind of have it all laid out.  We will go in the morning both Wednesday and Thursday.  I think when you can be around a Super Bowl champion, as much as they have won; I think it is a great opportunity for a team like us and certainly for me as a head coach.”

We will wait and see if Tom Brady is present for the joint practices. There is an appeal meeting scheduled Wednesday about Brady’s four game suspension for his involvement in under inflated footballs, but the judge has ruled that Tom does not have to be in attendance and can go to practice. We’ll see how that drama unfolds.

Saints side note:

ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter reported on Saturday that Saints running back C.J. Spiller had arthroscopic knee surgery, but that the expectation is he will be able to return for Week 1 of the regular season.  Spiller disappeared from training camp right before the Black and Gold scrimmage and hasn’t been seen again. Our very own Bobby Hebert says he recalls seeing the running back walking with a bit of a gimp after doing some special team drills, but didn’t think anything of it at the time. Sean Payton DOES NOT like to be asked about injuries and will give you the company line very time that he does not have to talk about them during camp, and will not.  His response when asked about Shefter’s report was short...

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Pelicans to hold training camp in West Virginia

The Saints won’t be the only New Orleans team holding their training camp at the Greenbrier in West Virginia.  The Pelicans announced they are joining the Black and Gold in the Mountain State.

"Once again I'm really delighted to be able to bring an exceptional experience to the deserving people of West Virginia,” said Chairman and Owner of The Greenbrier Jim Justice. “For West Virginians to be able to enjoy seeing first hand practices of an NBA team within our state is very rewarding to me. I have special thanks to Mr. Tom Benson, Mickey Loomis and all within the Pelicans and Saints organization that have played an instrumental part in making this happen."

The Pels will hold their media day on September 28 in New Orleans prior to leaving for White Sulphur Springs. The birds training camp will take place September 29 through October 2.

“For the past two years, Mickey has raved about The Greenbrier and all it has to offer,” said General Manager Dell Demps. “Coach Gentry and I visited The Greenbrier last week and it is better than I could have ever imagined.”

This will be the first time the team has moved training camp outside of New Orleans since 2009 when it took place in Lafayette, La. New head coach Alvin Gentry is excited about the venue.

“When Dell and I visited The Greenbrier last week, I was blown away by their first-class facilities, amenities and staff,” said Gentry. “The Greenbrier provides all the accommodations we need to have a productive training camp and also gives our players a great opportunity to grow closer together off the court. We can’t wait to bring our team there and get ready for the upcoming season.”

I for one do not understand why a basketball team with new top notch facilities on Airline Drive in Metairie needs to hold training camp somewhere other than at home. The team does not practice outside in the heat.

Now, if the Pels were still working out at the Alario Center I could stomach the decision. That place is not suitable for a pro team. But, everything is brand spanking new at their gym here. Why are both the Saints and Pelicans so eager to get out of the state? 

Only time will tell to see if this helps a ballclub that earned the 8th seed in the tough Western Conference a year ago.  If the birds do flop in Gentry’s first year, you know one of the first things you’ll hear is that they are a “country club team.”
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