Tuesday, 14 February 2012 16:17

New Orleans Saints Looks At Ex Seahawk Lofa Tatupu

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brees-panthersThe Saints are looking for linebackers and brought in Lofa Tatupu, 29, for a visit on Monday. 

 He sat out the entire 2011 season.  He was drafted by the Seahawks in 2005 and made the Pro Bowl each of his first three seasons. In 2008 his play started to decline and he was arrested for drunk driving. In 2009 he missed 11 games with a torn pectoral muscle and in 2010 he returned to play in all 16 games, but didn't look like the same player.


Shortly after the lockout ended Tatupu asked for and got his release and never played last season. Reports had him with a knee injury.

If he's healthy and wants to play again, he could be a good addition to the Saints defense.

Defensive tackle Tom Johnson is confident that he has a future with the Saints and recently bought a house here.

"Expectations are high for me and last season was definitely one of my best years," said Johnson. "I'm getting where I want to be, getting as much playing time as I did."

Johnson, 27, joined the Saints as a free agent and got a three-year contract for $1.8 million.

He's from Moss Point, Miss., who played at Mississippi Community College and Southern Miss and spent five years playing in the Arena League, NFL Europe and the Canadian League. He was in training camp with the Colts in 2006 and 2007, but was cut both times before the start of the regular season.

Johnson suffered a calf injury in the Saints' first preseason game and missed the remainder of the preseason and the first three weeks of regular season. Saints coaches saw enough of him in training camp to keep him on the roster.

"They made me feel wanted," has told the media. "Especially in my situation, having gone through a lot of teams who gave up on me when I got injured."

Playing in the rotation of defensive line, Johnson finished with 15 tackles, one sack and one forced fumble. He is listed on the depth chart as Sedrick Ellis' backup.

Defensively, the Saints got it put together towards the end of the regular season, limiting it last five opponents to 17 points or less.

Unfortunately, that same defense was barely effective through the first 11 games. Too often Tracy Porter, Patrick Robinson and Roman Harper were out of position, and the linebackers failed to make enough plays.

Now, Gregg Williams and his risky schemes are in St. Louis, and his replacement, Steve Spagnuolo, will use the offseason to teach his brand of defense. He rotates defensive linemen and getting pressure with fresh legs from the front four.

The Saints beat the Super Bowl champion Giants in the regular season 49-24.

"It kind of hurts to see a team you had beaten and dominated go to the Super Bowl and win," said Johnson.  "You always say 'what if?' But you've got to look at as a lesson learned and use it as motivation for next season."

From Drew Brees: "I take a lot of pride in what I do on the field because that makes the ability to influence a lot of people. That puts smiles on their faces. That gives people pep in their step on Monday mornings when they go to work. That does so much for the city."...Navy is joining the Big East and the impact already is being felt. Fighters from an aircraft carrier have attacked Rutgers, and a team of SEALS has infiltrated Pitt...

Jalen Rose, a former NBA player who is now an ESPN analyst, appeared on Mike & Mike in the Morning,  to talk basketball, but said at the outset of his appearance that he wanted to weigh in on Patriots tight end Rob Pronkowski, who has been criticized for partying after the Super Bowl loss, called Gronkowski "a white boy wasted." He apologized later, He and ESPN probably wish he had stuck to basketball...Parting thought: "Why are they called stands when they're made for sitting?...

SOME hither, others yon: Conference USA and the Mountain West will announce a newly named conference in what is being termed a new association, not a merger of the existing members.

The conference may start as early as 2013-14.

Presidents and chancellors from 16 schools met in Dallas on Sunday an d agreed to work on forming a new yet-to-be named intercollegiate athletic association.

The new conference will have a championship football game that includes semifinal matchups and  a championship  basketball tournament.

Tulane president Scott Cowen is the spokesman for the initiative. He said the association will have between `16-24 schools and will span from the Atlantic Seaboard to Hawaii.

The newly named league would have a membership in 2013-14 of: Tulane, Southern Miss, UNLV, Nee Mexico, Wyoming, Colorado State, Air Force, Hawaii (in football only), Tulsa, Marshall, UTEP, UAB, East Carolina, Nevada and Fresno State.

"This is an exciting development that will stabilize the current conferences and create the first truly national conference with members in five time zones and television viewership from coast to coast," UNLV president Neal Smatresk said in a statement. "This partnership brings together like-minded institutions to improve the integrity and stability of intercollegiate athletics."

by Ed Staton

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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.  


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