Friday, 06 July 2012 10:37

With clock ticking, Saints' QB holdout passing in a Brees with T.O.

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brees-733248It's time for the New Orleans Saints and Drew Brees to stop playing games, passing time and even passing to players who might not even play this season or ever again.

With the clock clicking to a franchise-player deadline, roadster, Drew Brees is now in California, tossing balls to T.O. Owens, an injured but an NFL great.

Terrell Owens joined Drew Brees and several other NFL quarterbacks playing pitch and catch in San Diego on Thursday.

Owens wants to prove that he still has enough receiving skills to play in the NFL. Among the players joining Brees and Owens were quarterbacks Carson Palmer, Kyle Roller, Sean Canfield, Chase Daniel and running back Darren Sproles. Daniel said the broken thumb "is good to go."

Saints fans don't have to worry about Owens converting Brees to his dark side because the Saints leader is too mentally strong for that. Owens hopes the quarterbacks will tell teams he can still contribute.

Saints' defense rounding into shape

Saints defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo likes the way defensive end Cam Jordan is developing as a pass rusher.

Jordan was drafted in the first round out of Cal last year, started 15 games and was the best run stuffer on a weak defense. Pro Football Focus ranked Jordan as one of the 10 beast run-stopping defensive ends in the league. But Jordan was a total non-factor rushing the passer, and he received more criticism than praise for his rookie season.

Spagnuoplo will use Jordan at defensive tackle some and he believes Jordan can be the type of versatile defensive lineman the coach loves.

"I'm excited to get moved around from end to defensive tackle in different packages and this should give me an oportunity to get to the quarterback more," Jordan told Houma Today. "It was a learning curve for me and getting off of blockers quicker is key in this league.

"Last season, I think I did pretty well in stopping the run, but there is still work for me in that category, too. I like the dual role position, and it gives me some freedom to get that pass rush not only from the edge, but also from the inside."

Jordan knows the game inside and out because his father, Steve, had a very good career in the NFL as a tight end.

The Saints' front seven has been the team's biggest weakness for too long. But Jordan, free-agent pickup Brodrick Bunkley, and Sedrick Ellis, another first-round pick, could make the front seven far more formidable if they live up to its potential.

Ellis sometimes has played like a Pro Bowler, but not often enough.

The linebackers are the strongest group the Saints have had since the famed "Dome Patrol," which produced four Pro Bowlers one season.

New Saints linebacker Curtis Lofton was one of four linebackers in the league to record more than 300 tackles during a three-year span. David Hawthorne, an outside starting linebacker, and Lofton both were ranked among the linebacker leaders in missed tackles with 32 apiece.

That many missed tackles means at least you were getting to the ball.

MAILBAG: From Lew, Metairie: "Does a player that's cut get to keep his signing bonus?”

Yes. There are no guaranteed contracts in the NFL. If you are cut from hour team, your contract is voided. The only money a player would be entitled to would be the signing bonus money. Some teams would give all that up front. Some teams spread the signing bonus out over the length of the contract.

So, if you signed a $50 million contract over five years with a $5 million signing bonus ($1 million per year), your $50 million contract is voided, but the team would either have to pay out the remaining signing bonus you have not received or they could still pay you that $1 million per year until the $5 million is reached.

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Ed Staton

Ed Staton is a former sports writer for the Times Picayune and New Orleans States Item.  He also served as the New Orleans Saints Information Director.  He has won 43 media awards in writing, design and photography. | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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