Saturday, 09 June 2012 06:44

Goodell continues wins vs. New Orleans Saints on NFL Bounty claim

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Saints fleurArbitrator Shyam Das ruled on Friday that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell's power to impose discipline on ex- and current Saints players is valid for their roles in the 2009-11 Bounty scandal.

The players tried to get their suspensions and fines overturned on grounds that the wrongdoings occurred prior to the new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Das found it well within Goodell's right to discipline the players.  Jon Vilma's one-year suspension will stand as will defensive end Will Smith's four-game suspension and linebacker Scott Fujita's three game suspension. Fujita is now with the Browns.

Saints safety Roman Harper strongly denied that he was ever paid for "whacks". Appearing on ESPN Radio on Friday, Harper disputed a Yahoo! Sports story that he and former Saints linebacker Jo-Lon Dunbar were offered $200 for  "whack" hits following a January playoff win over the Lions. "I did not get any money for it," said Harper. "I don't understand.  A 'whack' is just a tackle, it's a legal tackle. And it's just  a term we use for a certain tackle. It's like, you hit a guy and I guess like you hit him low, and his upper body lands before his lower body. I got nothing. I just play football, man I didn't get anything. Where is all this coming from, anyway? Where did all this happen? Like, I don't even understand."

The Saints waived running back Chris Taylor, who has bounced around the league for the past six years. At age 29, it might be time for him to consider another profession.

ESPN's Pat Yasinkas was here to observe the Saints workouts for two days: Here are some of his impressions: "The linebackers over-all looked much quicker and more athletic than in the past. We already know Marcus Colston is good, but he had exceptional practices.  Devery Henderson and Lance Moore looked same as ever. Nick Toon was the one that impressed me most of the young guys.  Joe Vitt was talking about Joe Morgan.

Also: "Curtis Lofton is going to have a big impact on the team. Malcolm Jenkins will be better in the new system. He'll finally be able to be a true centerfielder.  It would be nice if they could get at least one interception out of their starting safeties this year. Pretty amazing that they didn't last year. Drew Brees will eventually sign. Put him back in the mix and there's no way you can write off the Saints."

New Orleans Saints running  backs (published by New Orleans Saints on 

In a league where depth at the running back position continues to become more and more important, the Saints possess depth at the position that has helped produce one of the NFL’s most productive ground attacks. The main strength of the rushing attack is the diverse talents of the position group, featuring tailbacks Darren Sproles, Pierre Thomas, Mark Ingram, Chris Ivory, Jed Collins, Korey Hall.   With such a deep group, the running attack is able to better withstand the injuries players are prone to at one of the most physical positions in football. In 2012, this group of backs looks to serve as an even bigger weapon in the Saints’ offensive arsenal.

In his first year in Black and Gold, Sproles played in all 16 games with four starts and carried 87 times for 603 yards with a long of 36 and two touchdowns. He had a career-high 86 receptions for 710 yards. He also set the NFL record for all-purpose yards in a season with 2, 696 total yards. 

Also in his first year with the Saints, Ingram had a successful rookie season despite heel and toe injuries. The 2009 Heisman Trophy winner appeared in 10 games with four starts and carried 122 times for 474 yards with five touchdowns and added 11 receptions for 46 yards before being placed on Injured Reserve prior to the start of the postseason.  

Chris Ivory spent his first six games on the Physically Unable to Perform list due to a foot injury suffered in the 2010 regular season finale that required surgery and extensive rehabilitation, but he came back strong at the end of the 2011 campaign. Playing six games with two starts, Ivory carried 79 times for 374 yards with one touchdown. 

Playing in all 16 games with seven starts, Pierre Thomas carried 110 times for 562 yards and five touchdowns in addition to 50 receptions for 425 yards and one touchdown. He led all running backs in the NFC Wildcard Playoff vs. Detroit with eight carries for 66 yards and a touchdown, while also making six receptions for 55 yards and a touchdown. 

Combined, the club’s four tailbacks carried an impressive 398 times with 2,013 rushing yards including 13 rushing touchdowns and only two fumbles during the regular season.

In addition, the fullback position is well-stocked with Collins and Hall. After spending time with several clubs on practice squads and postseason rosters since coming into the league out of Washington State in 2008, Collins assumed lead blocker duties for the NFL’s sixth-ranked run game, while also scoring four touchdowns. Hall, the lead blocker for the Green Bay Packers on their Super Bowl XLV run, provides solid depth, while being a significant contributor on special teams.

Ivory is aware of the effort that it will take for this hard-working quartet to improve during the offseason to build off of the 2011 season. In 2010, he did not join the team until he was signed as a free agent following the draft. In 2011, much of his time was spent in the training room. 2012, marks the first time he is able to take advantage of a full offseason with the club.  

“It’s still a learning process,” said Ivory. “I’m still trying to get the mental part down and learn everything I need to know going into the season.”

While Sproles made a significant impact in the running, receiving and kickoff and punt return games as one of the NFL’s most versatile players, he still sees room to improve in 2012. Much like Ivory, he’s excited about the opportunity of being able to work on his craft at the club’s practice facility for an entire offseason after he was signed prior to the start of training camp in 2011 after spending the first six years of his NFL career with the San Diego Chargers.

“You always have things to work on, no matter how long you have been in the league,” said Sproles. “While we have a great system or a great group, I want the coaching staff to have the confidence that I can handle any run or any pass play they put on me.”


SOME HITHER, others yon: Was it a hard rain that caused the action in the LSU-Stony Brook Super Regional game to be suspended until Saturday morning? Well, the animals were lining up two by two...I'll Have Another was scratched and retired because of a leg injury before the Belmont. I guess the bartender cut him off...Here are the top three things Roger Goodell with the "Free Sean Payton" T-shirt send him: 1) Wipe excess oil from dipstick 2) Wax his car 3) Dry off dog's paws after walking his dog on a wet sidewalk...

Last word: Last week, three Ohio State football players were arrested for urinating in public and then tried to elude police.  You could say they were charged with peeing and fleeing...The Hornets' old turquoise and gold jerseys made the 100 Greatest NBA Jerseys list. These jerseys would likely clash if were any other team, but with the Hornets being in New Orleans, the color scheme just seemed to work. It was the most memorable jersey until they switched over to pinstriped unis in 2008...

LSU's Board of Supervisors has approved new contracts for seven assistant coaches and three basketball coaches. Defensive coordinator John Chavis received a raise from his current salary of $700,000 to $900,000 in 2012, $1.2 million in 2013 and $1.5 millkion in 2014. New basketball Coach Johny Jones will make $1.1 million in 2012, a 27 per cent reduction of what Trent Johnson was making before he left for TCU. Jones' assistants Robert Kirby will get $240,000 and Charles Leonard will make $130,000...

Also: Running backs coach and recruiting coordinator Frank Wilson will be promoted to  associate head coach and will make $550,000, $600,000 in 2013 and $650 in 2014. Quarterbacks coach Steve Kragthorpe had his salary reduced. He was hired last season as an offensive coordinator, but stepped down from that position to quarterbacks coach after he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. Kragthorpe, who made $700,000 last season, will make $400,000 in 2012, $425,000 9n 2013 and $450,000 in 2014. Offensive coordinator Greg Studraws will receive $400,000 in 2012, $420,000 in 2013 and $440,000. Tight ends coach Steve Ensminger will make $230,000 in 2012, $250,000 in 2013 and $300,000 in 2013. Special teams coach Thompson McGanughey will get $290,000 in 2012, $300,000 in 2013 and $310,000 in 2014...

SOME HITHER, others yon: The Top 100 Players of 2012 (as voted on by players) has listed its 31-100 choices. Here same noteworthy listings: 31) Eli Manning, 32) Jahri Evans, 33) Matt Forte, 50) Peyton Manning, 76) Carl Nicks, 86) Darren Sproles...

Saints starting units (including Drew Brees and Will Smith): Offense -- QB: Brees RB: D. Sproles FB: J. Collins TE: J. Graham WR: M. Colston WR: Devery Henderson LT: J. Bushrod LG: B. Grubbs C: B/ De LA Puente RG: J. Evans RT: C. Brown  Defense -- LE: C. Jordan LT: B. Bunkley RT: S. Ellis RE: W. Smith LOL: S. Shanle MLB: C. Lofton ROL: D. Hawthorne LCB: J. Greer RCB: P. Robinson SS: R. Harper FS: M. Jenkins. H: C. Daniel LS: J. Drescher K: G. Hartley P: T. Morstead KR: D. Sproles PR: D.Sproles...

Jimmy Graham's newest passion is single-engine acrobatic planes. "Flying is the most freeing thing I've ever done," said the 6-foot-6 tight end. "It's incredible because you're up there, and you're by yourself. And
you're in control, and there are no boundaries -- for most part, except for storms and the ground."...

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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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