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News » CHARTING THE COURSE


CHARTING THE COURSE


CHARTING THE COURSE
The spotlight has been off Drew Brees and the Saints' record-setting offense this offseason, while the team has been concentrating on building a more dynamic complement on defense.


But with the start of organized team activities fast approaching, Brees said he's getting fired up.

"I love this time of year," Brees said before teeing off at Coach Sean Payton's charity golf tournament at TPC Louisiana on Monday. "You like to see the team come together, and you just like to see the dynamics kind of develop. And certainly with (new coordinator) Gregg Williams now on the defensive side of the ball, you know the defense is going to have a lot of new wrinkles, a lot to install.

"That makes it tough for an offense to compete against on a daily basis. We're going to help those guys get better, and they're certainly going to help us get better."

Although most of the new construction has taken place on the defensive side of the ball, Brees said it would be wrong to just sit back and assume the offense is "just fine."

"Heck no; we always have ways to get better," Brees said. "We've been No. 1 in offense two of the last three years. But when you do that, people start gunning for you. Everybody watches your film. Everybody evaluates you. So you know they're going to scheme for you.

"So you have to continue to stay ahead of the curve. You have to be able to go out there and execute against anything, any defensive look, any game plan, whatever it might be. And I feel like going up against a Gregg Williams defense every day in practice is going to help us get that way.

"I think (last year's 5,000-yard passing season) is something we can kind of hang our hat on a little bit. But definitely when you look at us as a team, it's all about wins and losses. It's all about getting back to the playoffs and putting ourselves in the best position to get through the playoffs and make it to the Super Bowl and win the Super Bowl. You know, every year you're starting over. So right now we're starting over, and let's get this thing back to where we want it to be."

The Saints made some minor tweaks to the offense this offseason, replacing fullback Mike Karney with free agent Heath Evans and releasing veteran tailback Deuce McAllister and receiver David Patten to make room for younger guys.

The Saints didn't use any draft picks on an offensive player for the first time in team history. But they traded two of those picks away late last summer for veteran tight end Jeremy Shockey, who was plagued by a sports hernia injury throughout last season.

"The fact that we actually get an offseason to work out together, it feels like he's an addition," Brees said of the now-healthy tight end, who has been heavily involved in the Saints' offseason workout program. "We were kind of flying by the seat of our pants a little bit together last year, just because he was hurt so much or just kind of coming back off the injury and still kind of learning what we were doing and still kind of getting used to each other. So now that we get a chance to spend some time together, it's been good.

"In fact, today we were just kind of staying after (morning workout sessions) and doing some things. I look forward to watching him kind of grow within our offense. Lord knows we have plenty of guys to spread the ball around to, but certainly I look to him to be a guy that can make a lot of plays."

Although the Saints' veterans haven't taken the field yet for any organized practice activities or playbook installations, Brees said he'll throw routes to his receivers and watch film with them or call them and offer suggestions.

It hasn't been all business, though, for the first-time father, who has been spending time with three-month-old son, Baylen.

"He's been awesome," Brees said.

PAYTON'S TOURNAMENT: Brees was one of the many star attractions at the inaugural Payton's Play It Forward Foundation Celebrity Kid's Classic. Payton and his wife, Beth, started the foundation last year and added the golf tournament to this year's calendar in place of the more extravagant Black and Gold Gala, partly because of the struggling economy.

The tournament, which will benefit children's charities throughout the region, was sponsored by the West Jefferson Hospital Foundation and presented by the Fore!Kids Foundation. Celebrity golfers included Brees, quarterbacks Mark Brunell and Joey Harrington, several assistant coaches, former Giants defensive lineman Michael Strahan and former Saints standout Dalton Hilliard, local PGA golfer Kelly Gibson and local jockey Robby Albarado, among others.

"When you see the faces of these kids or the faces of people this affects, it's pretty strong," Payton said.

Fred Holly of the Republic team won.

ROSTER MOVES: The Saints signed three undrafted free agents Monday and released two others. They signed University of Sioux Falls guard Shawn Flanagan, Louisville defensive tackle Earl Heyman and Northern Illinois receiver Matthew Simon after their three-day auditions during rookie minicamp. Payton said they also planned to sign Mississippi State offensive tackle Michael Brown, but that move has not been announced yet.

To make room for the newcomers, the Saints released guard Cedrick Dockery and offensive tackle Sam McNaulty, who had signed with New Orleans after last month's draft.

Flanagan (6 feet 5, 302 pounds) began his career at Oregon, where he made four starts as a freshman and sophomore. But after failing to meet academic requirements, he bounced around to Eastern Oregon then Sioux Falls.

Heyman (6-1, 289) was a two-year starter at Louisiville who tallied 114 tackles, 10 sacks, two forced fumbles and six fumble recoveries in his career. He projects as a nose tackle.

Simon (6-1, 199) played in 44 games with 17 starts in college, tallying 96 receptions for 1,660 yards and eight touchdowns. He has also been recognized for his off-the-field leadership and community work.

Brown (6-5, 300) was a standout starter for two years at Mississippi State after transferring from Florida. But he and a teammate were kicked off the Bulldogs team last year after being arrested for carrying firearms on campus.

. . . . . . .

Mike Triplett can be reached at mtriplett@timespicayune.com or 504.826.3405.



Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: May 12, 2009

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