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Former Saint Anthony Hargrove tells Sports Illustrated Bountygate accusation still ‘hurts so bad’

Former Saints defensive tackle Anthony Hargrove, who hasn’t played a game in the NFL since he was suspended eight games for his alleged role in the Bountygate scandal, says he’s still hurt by the stigma in a piece for Sports Illustrated’s “Where Are They Now?” issue. 

Hargrove, a reclamation project who found success in New Orleans after the Saints picked him up following a year’s suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, now works as a marine carpenter in Port Charlotte, Fla.

But he says he still hears about Bountygate all the time. Hargrove still disputes both the existence of a bounty program and any accusation that he was one of the sources that led to an investigation.

“On visits back home in New York he hears people joke, “Pay me my money!” Playing flag football, opponents kid, “Ain’t no bounties out here!” He once coached a youth team in Port Charlotte, where he has lived since 2011, but he had to persuade parents that he won’t teach their children to play dirty. “That bounty thing trickled down to my personal life,” Hargrove says. “I can’t go anywhere [without] people referring to that.”

Hargrove last played a game in the NFL in 2011, when he made 18 tackles and three sacks for the Seahawks. Signed by the Green Bay Packers in 2012, Hargrove was headed for a role there when the suspension was handed down, and he was released in August. A brief attempt to return with Dallas the next season was unsuccessful.

For the full, in-depth story on Hargrove, check out SI.com: Anthony Hargrove remains in football exile years after Bountygate scandal

Drew Brees tells ESPN Baton Rouge some of Saints’ young skill players ‘are going to be household names’

Drew BreesNo matter how the final 53-man roster shakes out, the New Orleans Saints are going to have some new, young faces in the lineup this fall.

Particularly on offense. Players like Nick Toon, Brandon Coleman, Seantavius Jones, Joe Morgan and others are vying for increased time at receiver. Josh Hill is expected to take on a bigger role at tight end. 

Drew Brees welcomes the young blood.

“I’m excited about all of these guys, I think all of them are chomping at the bit for an opportunity,” Brees told ESPN Baton Rouge on the Culotta & Prince show this morning. “In many cases, you don’t know these guys names yet, and yet I think some of these guys are going to be household names pretty quick.”

All the young blood rejuvenates Brees each year during this part of the summer.

For an established star like Brees, the NFL’s summer workouts and training camp are a chance to get ready for the upcoming season, but more importantly, it’s a chance to start building chemistry with players working their way up in the organization.

“That time with the receivers, since there’s so many of them and the offensive concepts are infinite, that’s the process that takes more time,” Brees said in his morning show appearance.

And every new face brings something a little different to the table, allowing Saints coach Sean Payton and offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael to tweak their attack.

“So many of them are hungry, they can envision what their role could be on this offense, and it’s exciting,” Brees said. “You know, every offseason, you go in and you retool some things in the offense. You experiment with some things that you feel like, hey, we’ve got the personnel to do this, let’s try it, and some of the stuff is sticking pretty well.”

Full Brees audio can be found on ESPN 104.5 here: http://www.1045espn.com/common/more.php?m=49&post_id=10161.

Drew Brees praises Anthony Davis’ new contract in ESPN Baton Rouge appearance

Drew Brees Anthony Davis

Drew Brees is perfectly comfortable with the fact that he now has company at the top of the New Orleans sports pantheon.

Brees, who might be the Pelicans’ most famous fan, opened an appearance on ESPN Baton Rouge’s morning show, Culotta & The Prince, by heaping praise on the Pelicans’ new $145 million man, Anthony Davis.

A fixture on the sidelines at the Smoothie King Center during the season, Brees is an unabashed Pelicans fan.

“I think Anthony Davis is a stud, and I think he’s the type of guy that you build an organization and a team around,” Brees said. “So I think that’s a big move for us, a real positive move for us and the city, and for him.”

Brees and Davis have met a few times, stopping to chat when Brees held a birthday party for one of his sons at the Pelicans’ team complex, only  a parking lot over from where Brees goes to work each day.

His oldest son, Baylen, was proudly wearing his Anthony Davis jersey, plus a slight modification provided by his mother.

“Every time my oldest would put the Anthony Davis jersey on, he had to go full character, so he’d have Mom paint the unibrow in makeup on him,” Brees said on ESPN 104.5. “And as a matter of fact, at the birthday party, he was rocking that as well, and AD loved it.”

Brees has no problem sharing the spotlight with the Pelicans’ franchise cornerstone, a player with whom he’s kept in touch somewhat since that January party.

In fact, if his son’s birthday party is any indication, Davis actually offers Brees a chance to slip into the background.

“He’s taller than I am,” Brees said. “(At the birthday party) they all wanted his autograph. I blend in. He can’t blend in anywhere.”

Full Brees audio can be found on ESPN 104.5 here: http://www.1045espn.com/common/more.php?m=49&post_id=10161.

NFL sets supplemental draft for July 9

The NFL has set its annual supplemental draft for Thursday, July 9, according to the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

Four players have entered this summer’s draft, including Clemson tackle Isaiah Battle, who has been tabbed by many analysts to be the first player taken in the supplemental draft since the Cleveland Browns picked up Josh Gordon in 2012.

West Georgia defensive tackle Dalvon Stuckey, teammate Darrius Caldwell, a defensive end, and North Carolina Central wide receiver Adrian Wilkins are also entering the supplemental draft.

But it would be a surprise if the Saints got involved. For starters, New Orleans already took a tackle, rookie Andrus Peat, with the team’s first pick, and history is against the practice.

The Saints have made just one pick in the supplemental draft in their history. In 1981, New Orleans used a first-round pick on Illinois quarterback Dave Wilson, who threw 36 touchdown passes and 55 interceptions in his time with the Saints.

An NFL team that makes a pick in the supplemental draft gives up its pick in the corresponding round of the 2016 draft next season. Any player who doesn’t get taken becomes a free agent.

Drew Brees on how close the Saints are to winning the Super Bowl and playing until he’s 45

Drew Brees sat down with ESPN this morning to talk about the upcoming season from his passing camp in Florida. Here’s what he said:

On if he thinks he’ll win another Super Bowl: “Very convinced. It’s what drives me. It’s what keeps me going. I love this game for so many reasons. The opportunity to have played it for going on 15 years is rare, it’s unique. I want to continue to play for absolutely as long as I can. As long as I’m having fun, playing at a high level, and I’m able to stay healthy, why not play this game? It’s a blessing.”

On if he can play until he’s 45: “Do I think that’s possible? Yes, absolutely. Could that happen? Yes. Would I love for that to happen? Yes. I’m not naive. I know I’m on a series of one-year contracts just like everybody else in the league. I feel like I can find that juice.”

On how close the Saints are to winning a Super Bowl: “I feel like we can build it, yeah. Listen, there’s a lot of work to be done. I’m not going to sit here in June and say that we’re where we need to be. We still have a lot of work to do. I do feel like we do have all the pieces in place. We have the ability to build the best team that we’ve had. It’s not easy and it takes a lot of work — a ton of work. As long as we can maintain that mindset of just continue to get better each and every day we have a shot.”

Drew Brees ranks 30th on NFL Network’s ‘Top 100 Players’ show

Drew Brees is still considered one of the top 100 players in the league.

He just now ranks a little further down the list.

After coming in at No. 6 on the NFL Network’s “Top 100 Players” show a year ago, the Saints quarterback checked in at No. 30 on this year’s list.

The rankings are determined by a player vote.

Brees tied with Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger for the league lead with 4,952 yards last season. He also finished second in completion percentage (69.9) and fifth in touchdowns (33).

Brees likely hurt his stock by throwing 17 interceptions last season. Only Chicago’s Jay Cutler (18) and San Diego’s Philip Rivers (18) threw more picks.

Baltimore’s Joe Flacco (97), Atlanta’s Matt Ryan (77), Carolina’s Cam Newton (73), Rivers (43), and Dallas’ Tony Romo (34), and Roethlisberger (26) are the other quarters to make the list so far. Five quarterbacks are yet to be revealed.

Brees is the first member of the Saints to appear on the show. Tight end Jimmy Graham, who was traded to Seattle this offseason, checked in at No. 31.

Watch Brees’ video here.

Saints mailbag: Who will stretch the field for the offense next season?

Answering reader questions about the Saints …

Do you view Cooks as a true field stretcher? If Joe Morgan doesn’t make the team, Cooks has to be that guy?@wash_kevin

I’m not sure anyone has to be “that guy.”

I know Devery Henderson and Robert Meachem use to fill those roles, and that Joe Morgan is cut from the same cloth, but I’m not sure this offense needs a designated guy to run straight lines down the field.

I think those players fulfilled that role in previous seasons because they were good at it. I know many have issues with how the offense operated last season, but the Saints didn’t have a guy in the Henderson role last year and still managed finish third in the NFL in passing yards.

If Joe Morgan doesn’t make the team, I don’t foresee Cooks becoming the designated field stretcher. He would be miscast if that were his primary role and his abilities would be marginalized, as you can see from the following statistics:

Screens: 12 targets, 12 receptions, 50 yards
Quick outs: 1 target, 1 receptions, four yards
Slants: 10 targets, 9 receptions, 64 yards
Out routes: 7 targets, 6 receptions, 73 yards
In routes: 6 targets, 4 receptions, 50 yards
Comebacks: 1 target, no receptions
Hitches: 12 targets, 10 receptions, 108 yards
Post routes: 2 targets, 1 reception, 50 yards
Go routes:  6 targets, 2 receptions, 71 yards
Crossing routes: 5 targets, 5 receptions, 60 yards

I think what’s more likely, if Morgan doesn’t make the team, is that different players will help fulfill that role. The Saints love running a three-level passing concept, especially against single-high safety looks. I don’t expect that to change. The only difference will be that different guys will be responsible for running the deep route.

The pictures below illustrate that different players are capable of doing such things.

falcons2

Here’s a play from Week 1 against the Falcons. Cooks is the receiver closest to the formation, Meachem is on the outside.

falconsThe safety begins to shade toward the offensive left side of the field, allowing Cooks to get open over the middle.

steelersThis next one is against the Steelers. Nick Toon (I believe) runs the deep route and Kenny Stills runs an intermediate route to the sideline.

steelers2Toon freezes the safety long enough to get Stills a one-on-one matchup on the outside, where Brees finds him for a gain.

Running deep routes isn’t always about burning everyone and getting open for a shot play. You just need guys who can get down the field quick enough to manipulate the safeties and open things up for other players.

There will be times when Cooks or whoever else beats their guy off the line and smokes the safety. That’s great. But I don’t see a need to force someone into this role.

Which is worse – losing Junior’s production or having him on the team unwanted by a good majority of teammates/coaches? @MikeSnoopy2561

I’m not sure Junior Galette’s teammates and coaches want him off the team. Speculation has run wild, but I haven’t seen or heard anything concrete to corroborate such talk.

Unless he turned into a complete cancer last year, I can only think he was a good teammate since he was voted a captain by his peers. The team’s view might be a little bit different given all the incidents piling up.

But if they want him gone, they’ll find a way to make him disappear. There are ways to make that happen.

To answer your question, I think both avenues would lead to him not being on the field. And, as I’ve said before, that will be a blow to this defense. You don’t just replace 10 sacks. Those guys aren’t hanging around, waiting for a chance to join a team. And even if Hau’oli Kikaha or Anthony Spencer can pick up the slack, that only means you could have that production to go along with whatever Galette would have provided.

Losing Galette would also potentially rob the defense of getting creative with its personnel in subpackages.

It’s an unfortunate situation. If the team can’t find a resolution or Galette ends up being suspended by the league, it’s going to hurt on multiple levels.

Does Breaux seem like the most likely starter as nickel CB or would P.J. Williams or Stanley Jean-Baptiste fit better there?@KeithBurt95

Honestly, I’m not sure at this point if Delvin Breaux will be the answer at nickel cornerback. We only saw him practice there once and then he suffered a minor injury that sidelined him for the rest of minicamp.

He looked good on that day, but I need to see him receive more snaps in that role before I start projecting him into it.

P.J. Williams had some solid moments covering the slot, as did Damian Swann.

As for Stanley Jean-Baptiste, I see him on the outside or nowhere at all. He doesn’t have quick enough hips to keep up with speedy guys on the inside.

Questions for your mailbag:
1. Thoughts about the Saints’ offseason transformation?
2. Whose next in line for a contract extension?
3. Thoughts about Tim Hightower?
4. Who has disappointed you so far through OTAs/mandatory minicamp? – Todd (via email)

Let’s check these off in order.

1. I’m intrigued by what the Saints accomplished this offseason. I think the defense is going to be much improved and I would consider it a disappointment if New Orleans doesn’t rise to the middle of the pack. I’m excited about the secondary and I think the team should generate more pressure with the corners buying the line more time.

How the offense turns out remains to be seen. Losing Jimmy Graham and Kenny Stills are big blows. However, I think C.J. Spiller will be a big weapon for the offense. I’m also interested to see how things look next year. Sean Payton is basically starting with a blank slate and has alluded to some changes being made.

2. Probably Akiem Hicks. He might need to show a little bit more before he inks a new deal — and might even want that himself after a somewhat down 2014 — but I think he would be the next domino to fall.

3. I think Hightower has had some good moments. He admittedly needs to shake off some rust, but I would give him the inside edge on the job to backup Spiller as the so-called third-down back. Seventh-round pick Marcus Murphy is also in the mix and could steal the job if he blows the team away in the return game. I still like Hightower better at this early juncture.

4. I don’t like to rush to early judgments, but the only answer here is Kyle Wilson. He seemed to be exploited several times during the offseason program.

Saints send video to NFL allegedly showing Junior Galette in fight on beach

With linebacker Junior Galette set to meet with the league office soon about a domestic violence incident, the New Orleans Saints have submitted a YouTube video of a Miami beach brawl to the NFL office for review.

A man wearing a white shirt, white shorts, white shoes and sunglasses can be seen in the video striking two people, including a woman, multiple times with a belt, then returning to the fight later and throwing several more punches. The video was uploaded to the website on March 25, 2013.

“We were made aware of the video, and we sent it to the league office,” a Saints spokesman said Saturday. “There is a process this will go through at the league office level, and we are waiting on that to be determined.”

Galette’s attorney, Ralph Whalen, said he doesn’t believe the man in the video is Galette. Galette’s agent did not respond to The Advocate’s request for comment.

The same video was posted on another website, MediaTakeout.com, in February. But MediaTakeout.com took the video down shortly after it was posted.

“It was told to the website that it wasn’t Junior, and they felt obliged to take it down based on the information that was given,” Whalen said. “I don’t understand why this thing is being dragged back into this poor fellow’s life again.”

Asked whether the video circulating Saturday was the same one posted earlier on MediaTakeout.com, Whalen said it was.

“I’ve seen it a bunch of times,” Whalen said. “It certainly doesn’t convince me that it’s Junior. I don’t know what basis anyone can look at that video and say that it’s Junior.”

Galette is scheduled to travel to New York at the end of June to meet with the NFL office about a January altercation at his home that led to an arrest on one count of simple battery related to domestic violence.

Kenner officials later dropped the charges, citing a law that requires two people to live together to pursue a domestic violence charge, and no other charges were filed. A subsequent civil suit alleging that Galette trapped the woman in an abusive relationship is pending, but it appears to be in limbo after the woman’s original attorney dropped the case. No new attorney has taken it over at this point.

Galette, who spoke to reporters Wednesday for the first time since the arrest, said he believes that incident is behind him and apologized to Saints fans for his off-field conduct.

“I definitely consider it case closed,” he said.

Under the NFL’s new personal conduct policy — adopted in December after a rash of domestic violence incidents that included Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson — the league mandates a “baseline suspension of six games without pay for violations involving assault, battery, domestic violence, dating violence, child abuse, other forms of family violence or sexual assault, with consideration given to possible mitigating or aggravating circumstances.”

Galette was optimistic Wednesday that the January incident would not result in harsh penalties.

“As far as the news I’ve received, it’s nothing but good news,” he said. “Because obviously, it didn’t really look good on her part that the case got thrown before it even got to court. So as far as my agent and my lawyer’s concerned, everything’s good right now, and we’ll find out at the end of the month what’s to be determined.”

 

– Staff writer Ramon Antonio Vargas contributed to this report. — 

Drew Brees donates $1 million to Purdue

Saints quarterback Drew Brees has opened his summer break by putting a big drop in the collection bucket at his old stomping grounds.

Brees has donated $1 million to the Purdue football program, the school announced on Friday.

“We just want to show how much we believe in our university, in our football program, in our leadership and in the direction we are heading,” Brees said in the press release.

Brees, who still holds nearly every major Big Ten career passing record, is the last quarterback to take the Boilermakers to a Big Ten title (2000) and a berth in the Rose Bowl.

Everything you need to know about what happened at minicamp

Listed below are all of our stories that appeared in The Advocate throughout minicamp. For everything else, keep scrolling down the blog.

Underhill: Saints introducing several new concepts to their offense

Erickson: Elated by fatherhood, new contract, Cam Jordan focuses on living up to expectations

Underhill: Young receivers working to learn nuances of offense, get on same page as Drew Brees

Erickson: Junior Galette looking to put turbulent offseason behind him

Underhill: Ryan Griffin suffered multiple stitches in bottle attack

Underhill: Marques Colston is glad to be back and is ready to help the Saints however he can

Erickson: Kevin Williams gives Saints needed veteran presence on defensive line

Lewis: Fans have questions at minicamp

Bonus: Podcast on everything that happened at minicamp