Saints release Brown, sign John Kasay

The Saints were busy Tuesday on their first full day back from an extended training camp in Oxnard, Calif., a week of practices that were sandwiched between two road exhibition games.

In addition to getting back on the practice field for the first time after giving the team a day off Monday, the Saints coaching staff had to make 10 moves to reach the NFL’s first mandatory roster reduction.

The only shocker among 11 players cut was veteran defensive end Alex Brown, whose contract was terminated. Brown signed with the Saints as an unrestricted free agent from the Chicago Bears in 2010 and had two sacks and 11 quarterback hurries in starting all 16 regular-season games.

Brown, who has started at left end throughout training camp and the first three preseason games, was scheduled to earn $3 million in base salary this season.

The other big roster move for the Saints on Tuesday was the signing of former Carolina Panthers kicker John Kasay.

The 41-year-old Kasay was brought in because Garrett Hartley hurt his right hip in Sunday night’s exhibition game at Oakland and the Saints wanted a little insurance with their regular-season opener just eight days away.

Guard Roger Allen, linebacker Ezra Butler, wide receiver Jarred Fayson and running back Chris Taylor were waived/injured.

Guard Dan Gay, wide receiver John Chiles, fullback Kolby Hurt, safety DeAndre McDaniel, center Ryan Taylor and cornerback Mark Parson were put on waivers. Gay, a Lafayette native, played basketball and football at St. Thomas More High School.

The decision to release Brown was a hard one, coach Sean Payton said. He said it was made now so Brown, a 10-year veteran, can have a chance to sign with another team before the regular season begins.

“I think you try to factor in all the practice snaps and all of the game film,” Payton said. “It was something that, after going through it all and looking at the timing of it, there’s still that opportunity within this next week that he’ll have a chance to sign with someone else.

“Also, that door is not totally shut if that opportunity presents itself here,” he said. “Nonetheless, it was a hard decision we had to make.”

The Saints, of course, selected defensive end Cameron Jordan in the first round of the draft this spring, but Jordan has been playing primarily with the second-team defense after missing the first week of training camp.

They also have Will Smith and Jeff Charleston as well as Turk McBride, whom they signed during free agency late last month.

“We’re going to have to look closely at our rotation,” Payton said. “Obviously we’re going to substitute a handful of guys in there.”

The signing of Kasay, who has had a long and distinguished career in the NFL, was a stunner as well.

The 18-year veteran has played the past 14 seasons as an original member of the expansion Panthers and has scored 1,823 career points — which ranks second among active players behind Detroit’s Jason Hanson (1,890).

Kasay has connected on 433 of 529 career field-goal attempts for an 81.9 percent success rate after going 25-of-29 with a long of 55 yards last season.

“With his experience, we know the player a little bit more than some of the others because he’s been in our division,” Payton said. “He’s consistent and he’s a veteran player.”

Payton wouldn’t elaborate on the severity of Hartley’s injury, saying that he won’t give another injury update as he’s done for the first four weeks of training camp until he’s required to do so by the NFL on Monday.

“It really doesn’t affect his future,” Payton said of Hartley, “but certainly we have to make sure all of our bases are covered when we make a decision like this. We haven’t put a timetable on (when Hartley will return), but we play in a week and a half so we have to be prepared either way.”

NOTES: The Saints will wrap up their preseason schedule against the Tennessee Titans at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Superdome. After that, they’ll be required to make 27 roster moves by 4 p.m. Saturday to reach the regular-season limit of 53 players so they can continue their preps for the Sept. 8 season opener at Green Bay. … Payton said defensive end Will Smith was excused from Tuesday’s practice because of a death in his family.

Saints wrap up preps for Raiders

The Saints worked on Raiders formations in practice Friday evening and had a walkthrough Saturday morning to wrap up a week of work in Oxnard, Calif.

After the walkthrough, they boarded a chartered plane for the short flight to the Bay Area.

NICKS, MOORE OUT: Saints coach Sean Payton said three players who were injured this week — G Carl Nicks (knee), WR Lance Moore (groin) and WR Joseph Morgan (knee) — won’t play against the Raiders.

S Roman Harper (finger) and DT Sedrick Ellis (shoulder) are questionable.

LAGNIAPPE: Payton will likely play his starters for the first half, with the side of the ball that doesn’t get as many snaps in the first 30 minutes possibly getting more time in the third quarter. … With Morgan out, Payton said WR Montez Billings and RB Darren Sproles will likely return punts. … Payton was coy Friday night about a report that FS Darren Sharper, an unrestricted free agent, is still in talks to return to the team. “I think we’re doing well,” Payton said. “We have to get some guys healthy, of course, but we’re doing well.”

Ingram returns to practice

Saints rookie running back Mark Ingram returned to practice Thursday after resting his knee for two days and should play in Sunday’s game at Oakland, coach Sean Payton said after a 2 1/2-hour workout in Oxnard, Calif.

Also back were linebacker Will Herring, who missed three days with a calf contusion, and defensive tackle Mitch King, who didn’t work Wednesday because of an unspecified ailment.

MORGAN SET FOR SURGERY: Rookie wide receiver Joseph Morgan, who has made a splash with a long touchdown in each of the first two exhibition games, has a torn meniscus in his knee and will undergo arthroscopic surgery Monday when the team gets back to New Orleans.

Payton said Morgan will  likely be out 2-to-4 weeks.

Morgan, wide receiver Lance Moore and strong safety Roman Harper were newcomers to a lengthy injury list that numbered 16 players Thursday.

Moore didn’t work because of a groin injury and Harper has a fractured finger on his right hand.

Payton said the finger was splinted and Harper could probably play Sunday if it were a regular-season game, but he and Moore will likely be held out.

TEMPERS FLARE: It took almost four weeks, but the first fight of training camp broke out Thursday.

Several offensive players came to the aid of running back Darren Sproles, who they felt was being roughed up by cornerback Leigh Torrence long after a play was whistled dead.

LEAVING OXNARD: The Saints will practice for the final time in Oxnard on Friday and then take a short flight up the coast Saturday morning for Sunday night’s game in Oakland.

MRI on Nicks’ knee is negative

The Saints, who held the second of five practices in Oxnard, Calif., on Tuesday, received good news when tests on Pro Bowl guard Carl Nicks’ left knee came back negative.

Nicks was hurt in Monday’s practice, but coach Sean Payton said he checked out all right even though he may be held out for a week.

Said Payton: “The concern (Monday) leaving practice was it might have been a longer period of time. But about an hour after practice we got the MRI results and they were negative. So that was good.”

INGRAM SITS: Rookie running back Mark Ingram was among 15 players who didn’t practice Tuesday.

He was held out with swelling in his left knee, but it’s not believed to be serious. Payton said Ingram may sit again Wednesday in order to “calm the knee down.”

INJURY REPORT: Also missing practice Tuesday were RB Chris Ivory (foot/sports hernia), DE Greg Romeus (knee), LB Ezra Butler (hamstring/sports hernia), DT Tom Johnson (calf), CB Johnny Patrick (knee), DE Jeff Charleston (ankle), CB Fabian Washington (hamstring), LB Will Herring (calf), RB Chris Taylor (ankle), DT Aubrayo Franklin (knee), G Roger Allen (knee), LB Clint Ingram (hamstring) and WR Jarred Fayson (knee).

DE Junior Galette left midway through the practice with a knee problem.

Saints pay for sluggish loss


Special to the Advocate

OXNARD, Calif. — It didn’t matter whether you called the kind of defense the New Orleans Saints played Saturday night against the Houston Texans vanilla or simply nonexistent.

 It wasn’t pretty, and the Saints players knew it.

That point was made loud and clear as they began a week of training camp practices in California on Monday afternoon, hitting the practice field for the first time since the defense was gashed for 436 yards in a 27-14 loss to the Texans in Reliant Stadium.

Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams promptly punished the defense after the stretching portion of practice by making the entire unit perform a series of up-downs to reiterate his sentiment toward the defense’s performance.

The Saints were coming off a stellar outing in the preseason opener against the 49ers and the regression undoubtedly stunned Saints fans and opened defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis’ eyes.

“The message was just about that — it’s really not about what other people do. It’s about what we do,” Ellis said. “It’s about fundamentals. If we do the right things on defense, it’s going to be hard for anyone to beat us.

“I think we kind of let up as a defense in ideology. I think he’s trying to instill and pound that into us. With the guys on this team, I don’t think it will be hard.”

NICKS HURT IN PRACTICE: The Saints may hold their collective breath as guard Carl Nicks left Monday’s practice to have his left knee examined.

The Pro Bowl fourth-year guard exited about midway through practice, but coach Sean Payton didn’t provide any other details.

Those who didn’t practice at all were RB Chris Ivory (knee/sports hernia), DE Greg Romeus (knee), LB Ezra Butler (hamstring/sports hernia), DT Tom Johnson (calf), CB Johnny Patrick (knee), DE Jeff Charleston (ankle), CB Fabian Washington (hamstring), LB Will Herring (calf), RB Chris Taylor (ankle) and DT Aubrayo Franklin (knee). WR Jarred Fayson, LB Clint Ingram and G Roger Allen also left Monday’s practice early. Payton only addressed Fayson’s injury, saying it was a knee ailment.

Payton said he’s guarded with Franklin’s left MCL sprain, but is optimistic he may only miss two or three weeks. Payton said Herring sustained the injury during the Texans game and should only miss a couple of days.

BEATING THE HEAT: There’s certainly a drastic difference in the climate of Oxnard compared to the brutal heat of Metairie and the players welcomed the move from the team’s practice facility to the 70-degree temperatures of Monday’s practice.

But linebacker Scott Shanle said the distraction of the beautiful scenery won’t occur.

“I think it’s easy (to stay focused) because it’s a training camp schedule,” Shanle said. “All day, all night we’re at practice and lifting weights. It’s not a vacation by any means for guys. You can’t get away and do anything.”

Saints working out in California

After three weeks of work at their training facility, the Saints will have an extended training camp this week in Oxnard, Calif.

Sean Payton’s team will practice Monday through Friday from 6 to 8:30 p.m. CDT in an effort to create some chemistry and build team camaraderie.

Payton likes to have training camp away from the team’s home base, preferrably on a small-college campus, but the Saints have trained at their Metairie facility the past three years — partly because their indoor facility allows them to escape the heat, humidity and rain when necessary.

The practices in Oxnard, where the average high temperature in August is 74 degrees, will allow Payton to work his team hard after Saturday night’s poor performance in a 27-14 loss to the Houston Texans. The Saints are also just 17 days away from the regular-season opener on Sept. 8 at Green Bay.

The Oxnard workouts will lead up to their third exhibition game on Sunday at 7:20 p.m. (NBC) against the Oakland Raiders in Oakland.

Payton wants to see offense progress

Saints coach Sean Payton said he wants to see improvement from his first-team offense, which had three three-and-outs in a 24-3 win over San Francisco in the preseason opener, in Saturday night’s exhibition game at Houston.

“You want to see progress week-to-week,” Payton said. “I think it’s always important. You want to play well and want to improve from the things you didn’t do well the week before.”

Payton said the fact that the starters will play between 20 and 25 plays, seven or eight more than last week, may help.

INJURY REPORT: Ten players won’t play against the Texans because of injury.

The list is topped by CB Tracy Porter, who just this week returned to practice following offseason knee surgery.

G Jahri Evans and FS Malcolm Jenkins, who missed two practices each this week with knee issues, are expected to play, Payton said Thursday.

HEADING WEST: After the game, the Saints will fly directly to the West Coast to practice all week in the cooler climate of Oxnard, Calif., in advance of an Aug. 28 preseason game at Oakland.

FAMILIAR FACES: Former LSU wide receivers Trindon Holliday and Terrence Toliver are on the Texans’ roster. Also with the team are former UL-Lafayette safety Maurice Rolle and ex-Tulane tackle Pete Hendrickson.

Starters may get 25 snaps vs. Houston

METAIRIE — After getting between 14 and 16 plays in their exhibition opener last week, the Saints’ starting offense and defense may get as many as 25 snaps Saturday night against the Houston Texans.

Coach Sean Payton said he wants his first units to get between 20 and 25 snaps, preferably closer to 25, before he removes them.

“That may or may not get us to the half,” Payton said, “but somewhere in that range.”

The Saints finished their preps for the game by working on Texans’ offensive and defensive formations for the first time.

After meetings and a brief walkthrough Friday, the team and coaching staff will attend the annual Meet the Saints luncheon, which is hosted by the Touchdown Club of New Orleans, before flying to Houston.

JENKINS, PORTER RETURN: Free safety Malcolm Jenkins, who had missed the two previous practices after tweaking his right knee Monday, was back on the field along with cornerback Tracy Porter, who was held out on Wednesday to rest his surgically-repaired knee.

Payton said Jenkins will play against the Texans, but will hold Porter out another week to be on the safe side.

Guard Jahri Evans sat out a second straight practice to rest his knee, but Payton said he expects him to play Saturday.

INJURY REPORT: Not working Thursday were RB Chris Ivory (foot/sports hernia), DE Greg Romeus (knee), LB Ezra Butler (hamstring/sports hernia), LB Ramon Humber (quadriceps), LB Clint Ingram (hamstring), DT Tom Johnson (calf), CB Johnny Patrick (knee), DE Jeff Charleston (ankle), CB Fabian Washington (hamstring), and TE Tory Humphrey (knee).

RB Joique Bell (knee) and CB Leigh Torrence (hip) worked on a limited basis after missing practice time this week.

Also, S Chris Reis and LB Jonathan Casillas were excused because their wives were due to deliver babies.

ROSTER MOVE: The Saints put tackle Alex Barron on injured reserve Thursday, eight days after he had arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee.

Barron, an unrestricted free agent who played last season with the Dallas Cowboys, was signed early in camp to add depth to the offensive line.

To fill Barron’s roster spot, the team signed cornerback Quincy Butler. It’s Butler’s third stint with the Saints; he was on the practice for two months in 2008 and last season was with the team for three days before being released when they activated Darren Sharper from the physically-unable-to-perform list.

HORNETS VISIT: New Orleans Hornets coach Monty Williams, his coaching staff and a few other members of the organization watched the Saints practice Thursday.

A couple of time during special teams drills, Payton strode over and briefly talked with Williams, who spoke to reporters after practice ended.

“It was about us continuing to learn and get better as coaches,” Williams said of the visit. “I want to learn as much as I can from guys who do it well, and I picked up a couple of drills.

“I spent most of my time watching Drew (Brees),” he said. “I’m amazed he doesn’t take any time off. He doesn’t slack off in drills, he takes every drill and everything they do seriously. I watched all of his passes; they were all spirals … everything was on point.”

Saints’ injury lists grows to 16

METAIRIE — Through nearly three weeks of training camp practices, the Saints’ injury list has been pretty manageable for Sean Payton and his coaching staff.

Until Wednesday, that is.

Sixteen of the 90 players on the roster did not participate in a 2 1/2-hour workout in the team’s indoor practice facility. It was easily the longest injury report Payton has had to rattle off in his post-practice meeting with reporters this summer.

“It seems like in the last two or three days (the list) has gotten bigger,” Payton said. “You’re at that point in camp where you’re hoping to get these things treated and get these guys back on the field.

“For a number of guys, it’s critical that they’re back out here. That being said, we’re still being smart about it.”

Three starters — cornerback Tracy Porter, guard Jahri Evans and free safety Malcolm Jenkins — were among the players who didn’t work. Payton said all three had minor knee issues and were held out as a precaution.

“I would say this is pretty standard right about now,” Payton said. “I always get on (trainer) Scottie (Patton) when it gets to two pages in our evening meetings. We’re at two pages, so I like it better when it’s just a page.”

BEING PATIENT: Payton said Porter, who practiced just three times after coming off the injury list on Sunday following offseason surgery on his left knee, did not have a setback in his workouts.

Still, Payton said the thought was to back him off Wednesday. At the same time, Payton said he doesn’t know if he’ll let Porter dress out for Saturday night’s preseason game against the Houston Texans in Reliant Stadium.

“He’s on schedule with no setbacks,” Payton reiterated.

Payton is hoping to get Evans, who had some swelling in his knee Wednesday, and Jenkins, who sat out two practices after tweaking his knee in practice on Monday, to return soon.

INJURY REPORT: In addition to Porter, Evans and Jenkins, not working were RB Chris Ivory (foot/sports hernia), TE Tory Humphrey (knee), CB Leigh Torrence (hip), WR Courtney Roby (elbow), DE Jeff Charleston (ankle), LB Clint Ingram (hamstring), RB Joique Bell (knee), T Alex Barron (knee), CB Johnny Patrick (knee), LB Ezra Butler (hamstring/sports hernia), DT Tom Johnson (calf), LB Ramon Humber (quadriceps) and DE Greg Romeus (knee).

Payton said Ivory, Romeus, Barron, Butler, Humber, Ingram, Bell, Johnson and Patrick won’t play against the Texans and they’ll monitor Charleston and Humphrey to see how they’re doing before deciding if they’ll play.

FILL-INS: With Evans sidelined, center/guard Matt Tennant and guard Brian de la Puente split the first-team repetitions at right guard with each player getting the snaps in two of the four team periods.

After veteran Chris Reis replaced Jenkins with the first-team defense on Tuesday, Paul Oliver got a chance to show what he could do Wednesday at free safety. Oliver signed with the Saints two weeks ago as an unrestricted free agent.

Patrick Robinson again worked with the first team in Porter’s right cornerback spot as he has done for most of training camp.

EYE-CATCHING: Backup strong safety Pierson Prioleau, a 188-pounder, knocked 338-pound tackle George Foster off his feet as Foster tried to get into position to block for Darren Sproles on a sweep during team drills. … Also during team drills, cornerback Jabari Greer jumped a pass route and intercepted a Drew Brees pass intended for Devery Henderson. … Rookie linebacker Nate Bussey didn’t buy a play-action fake by backup quarterback Chase Daniel and intercepted a pass intended for Adrian Arrington in team work.

Goal-line drill highlights Tuesday workout

METAIRIE — The Saints coaching staff livened up a warm Tuesday afternoon practice with a live goal-line drill that gave their starters as well as second- and third-teamers a chance to shine.

For only the second time since training camp started, the Saints had live contact as all three offensive units got three snaps each to score from the 3-yard line.

The spirited drill was accentuated by taunting and some good-natured trash-talking from the defense, mainly because it dominated the offense.

Of the nine snaps, the offense scored just once, and that was by the third team as quarterback Sean Canfield hit tight end Michael Higgins for a 2-yard score.

On the first series, running back Mark Ingram was stopped for a 1-yard gain on second-and-goal from the 2 and Pierre Thomas failed to get in on the next play as he tried the left side.

“Coach (Sean) Payton always does a good job of having something, whether its short-yardage or goal-line, for that day where it’s competitive offensively and defensively — and it’s good for this training camp,” weakside linebacker Scott Shanle said. “It’s just fun to go back and forth with your teammates, and it increases the liveliness during that part of practice.

“It’s competitive. I mean, nobody wants to lose offensive or defensively because it gives you bragging rights at least for 24 hours until we come out here and have another competitive period.”

PORTER PROGRESSING: After just his third practice of training camp, including the last two in full pads, Saints cornerback Tracy Porter said his surgically-repaired left knee is holding up well.

“Everything is on track, everything is good,” said the Port Allen native. “I’m out there running around, cutting, doing everything. I’m still explosive and I still have the speed, so I’m hitting the ground running.”

Porter even felt good enough to return some punts during one special teams period Tuesday.

“Returning punts and being back there, I’m just looking for my shot,” he noted. “I’ve been on the depth chart pretty much since I got here (in 2008). Once you’re out here for practice, you’re full-go for everything.”

SAINTS ADD COBBS: After learning that fourth-string halfback Joique Bell would miss some practice time because of a sprained posterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, the Saints signed former Miami Dolphins running back Patrick Cobbs on Tuesday.

Cobbs, a 5-foot-9, 210-pounder, played five seasons with the Dolphins as a backup to Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams. For his career, Cobbs has 171 rushing yards and two scores and has 32 catches for 409 yards and four TDs.

INJURY REPORT: Not practicing on Tuesday were Bell, RB Chris Ivory (foot/sports hernia), DE Greg Romeus (knee), FS Malcolm Jenkins (knee), CB Johnny Patrick (knee), DE Jeff Charleston (ankle), LB Clint Ingram (hamstring), DT Tom Johnson (calf), T Alex Barron (knee), CB Leigh Torrence (hip), LB Ezra Butler (hamstring/sports hernia), and LB Ramon Humber (quadriceps).

Payton said Jenkins tweaked his right knee in practice Monday and would likely sit out Wednesday as well. He’s expected to return to practice Thursday and could play Saturday night at Houston.

EYE-CATCHING: In team drills, cornerback Patrick Robinson read a pass from quarterback Drew Brees all the way and stepped in front of wide receiver Lance Moore to make an easy pick, and took it the other way as his defensive mates roared with approval. … Weakside linebacker Jonathan Casillas chased tight end Jimmy Graham down the middle after he caught a pass and punched the ball out from behind at the 20-yard line with the ball bouncing through the end zone for a touchback.

LAGNIAPPE: Tuesday was the final open practice for fans to watch training camp as the Saints, who will work indoors the next two days before traveling to Houston for Saturday night’s exhibition game with the Texans. … SiriusXM’s NFL talk channel will broadcast live from the Saints training facility Wednesday with former NFL defensive lineman Tim Ryan broadcasting from 3-6 p.m. The show can be heard on Sirius Channel 88 and XM Premier.