Tuesday, 22 May 2012 10:05

Malcolm Jenkins, certainly New Orleans Saints are better with Brees testing Spagnuolo

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SpagnuoloWith the New Orleans Saints undergoing a major disruption this off-season due to bountygate and the non-signing of quarterback, mark another one down as the defense is learning a new system under  defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. 

But, according to one Saint, Brees absence actually comes at a good time—certainly not the position of most Saints fans. 

Defensive back, Malcolm Jenkins believes it will be easier to learn the defense without Brees there picking it apart at will.

“It becomes a lot more relaxed when you don’t have Drew out there making the plays that he does,” Jenkins told Ryan Jones of the New Orleans Times-Picayune.  “We’ll be able to learn quickly what we can and can’t do in that defense.”

While spring is the eternal gush time for optimism,  it seems most players and fans might have a different take.  After all, isn’t the real test of a defense is the opportunity to be stretched to the max?

Speaking of Drew Brees, here's one reason the Saints haven't yet agreed with Brees on a long-term contract. SI.com's Peter King writes: "The Saints feel they should be credited for taking a medical risk on unsigned franchise player Drew Brees in 2006."

With the sides mired in a contract stalemate, the Saints apparently believe they deserve a break for being the only team willing to give Brees $10 million per season as he was coming off shoulder surgery in 2006. Dolphins doctors told then Dolphins coach Nick Saban that Brees couldn't last a whole season because of the injured shoulder. Brees even said he only had a 25 per cent chance of coming back.

However, that line of thinking is unlikely to move a player who hasn't missed a game because of an injury in his six seasons at New Orleans.

Sensing public unease, Benson and GM Mickey Loomis guaranteed a deal will get done after Brees called the talks "extremely frustrated." The sides have until July 16 to reach a long-term deal.

It seems unthinkable for Brees to go elsewhere, but the longer the dispute goes on, the more likely that scary thought creeps into the minds of the Who Dat Nation. Brees has a plan if he doesn't sign with the Saints.

Despite all the turmoil that has surrounded the Saints this offseason, Bleacher Report writes that the Saints have performed admirably this offseason despite the loss of a draft pick and several suspensions. "However, the team still has not re-signed Brees. Grade: B+ with Brees. F - If Brees goes elsewhere."

Brees didn't sound too frustrated in this interview with XX 1090 Sports Radio in San Diego per Pat Yasinskas of ESPN.

"I understand that in the NFL, certainly after going though those negotiations last year during the lockout and the CBA negotiations, that certainly there is a business element to all of this that we all have to go through from time-to-time," said Brees. "It's not the fun part cause in the end we love this game.  We love playing football. We love the interaction with the fans. We love what this game means to so many people. As quickly as we can all get back on the field and start playing ball again the better."

Brees said that once a long-term contract is worked out he'll have no hard feelings and plans on business as usual.

"I've got plenty of personal goals and that's all I think about," said Brees. "I think when I step back into the locker room, back on the field, how we can bring this team together and go accomplish something great?

"You can't take things personal in this business just because otherwise it eats you up. You gotta take on that mindset there is going to be moments like this, but in the end it is about getting in the locker room with your teammates and getting on the field and having a chance to win a championship because that's why we all play this game. There is no feeling like holding that Vince Lombardi Trophy or having the chance to accomplish something like that. Those are the things you remember when you look back on this game. Those moments."

Hall of Fame LB Lawrence Taylor's Super Bowl XXV ring was auctioned off for $230,000. He said he gave the ring to his son and he could do anything he wanted to do with the ring...Eli Manning will join Erin Brockovich and Bill O'Riley to do some motivational speaking...Former Saints QB Billy Joe Toliver? Just won his third American Century Championship at State Line, Nev. Tony Romo, John Elway and Michael Jordan were also in the golf tournament...

Lostlettermen.com rates LSU's defense as best in the SEC. "The second-best scoring defense in the nation lost Mo Claiborne to the NFL, but is still loaded with two future first-round picks in  next year's draft on the defensive line in DE Sam Montgomery and DE Barkevious Mingo, plus the top CB in the conference  in Tyrann Mathieu and Eric Reid. And don't forget about massive DT Anthony Johnson of New Orleans. The best defense in the SEC, but also the country."...Parting thought: "Don't confuse with facts because my mind's already made up."...

Second-ranked LSU (42-14), the SEC champion, opens play in the conference tournament at approximately 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday at Regions Park in Hoover, Ala. The Tigers, the tournament's No. 1 seed, will play either ninth-seeded Ole Miss, seventh-seeded Mississippi State or sixth-seeded Arkansas.

If Ole Miss defeats fourth-seeded Kentucky in the tournament's opening game of Tuesday, LSU will face the winner of Tuesday's Mississippi State-Arkansas game on Wednesday.

If LSU wins Wednesday, the Tigers will play a second-round game at approximately `12:30 p.m. on Thursday.

LSU's games on Wednesday and Thursday will be televised by Fox Sports Houston, Fox Sports Southwest and SportSouth. Live video is available at www.ESPN3.com, though blackouts may apply in SEC areas.

"This time of the year, the postseason, is the most fun," said Tigers coach Paul Manieri. "Our players have worked extremely hard all year to get into this position, and now they have a chance to create a memorable season.

"The SEC Tournament is a tremendous event, one in which we've had great success in recent years. We're taking the approach that this is the third straight week we're playing for a champion ship -- we clinched the division title two weeks ago, and the SEC champion ship last week, now we have a chance at the tournament title."

LSU junior leftfielder Ralph Rhymes, named 2012 SEC Player of the Year by SEBaseball, continues to lead the nation in batting average, hitting .469. He's batting .458 in SEC games.

"We'll play tougher teams in this tournament than we will in regional play,"  said Mainieri.

by Ed Staton and Bayoubuzz Staff



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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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