Offensive lineman Brandon Thomas, a senior draft prospect from Clemson, tore an anterior cruciate ligament in a non-contact drill during a private workout last week with the New Orleans Saints, according to reports Tuesday from The National Football Post’s Aaron Wilson and ESPN’s Mike Triplett.
The 6-foot-3, 317-pound Thomas received second-, third- and fourth-round projections from various outlets prior to his injury, for which he will have surgery as the May 8-10 draft is fast approaching. The Saints worked him out after Charles Brown (who started the season at left tackle for New Orleans in 2013) and shortly before Brian de la Puente (the starting center since 2011) left for other teams in free agency.
Wilson speculated that Thomas could still do well in the draft, though his hurt knee would likely affect his draft stock.
Multiple Saints personnel attend Towson Pro Day
Multiple representatives of the Saints attended Towson University’s Pro Day in Maryland, according to CBSSports.com’s Jason La Canfora on Monday. The school’s highest profile draft prospect is running back Terrance West, and the program boasts a couple of ties to the Saints: it’s the alma mater of linebackers coach Joe Vitt and former left tackle Jermon Bushrod, who helped New Orleans win Super Bowl XLIV and was a two-time Pro Bowler before leaving for Chicago last year.
West stood out in the positional drills he participated in, La Canfora wrote. That should only boost the stock of West, who set Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA) records for rushing yards (2,509) and rushing touchdowns (41) to help Towson reach the national title game last year.
CBSSports.com projects West might be taken in the third round of the upcoming draft. He clocked 4.54 seconds in the 40-yard dash at February’s scouting combine in Indianapolis, which La Canfora called an impressive time for a player with a 5-foot-9, 225-pound frame.
Calgary Stampeders hold open workout in Metairie
The Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League will host an open workout at East Jefferson High School’s football stadium for 9 a.m. to noon on April 12.
John Murphy, the Stampeders’ assistant general manager, will be in attendance alongside two full-time coaches at East Jefferson’s campus, which is at 400 Phlox Ave. in Metairie.
“We have found numerous players on our roster from open workouts and have signed a prospect from the New Orleans region every year since 2008,” Murphy, who resides in Metairie, said in an email about the event.
Prospective players can sign up online at www.stampeders.com as well as at the event itself. They can email any questions to the Stampeders’ front office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Stampeders have won the Grey Cup, the CFL’s championship trophy, six times. Their last title came in 2008.
Alums include defensive lineman Tom Johnson, who was with the Saints from 2011 to 2013 and left for Minnesota in free agency in March; cornerback Derrius Brooks, signed to New Orleans’ offseason roster on a futures contract in January; and cornerback Brandon Browner, who joined New England in March after three seasons with Seattle, the defending NFL champions.
Johnson was with Calgary from 2009 to 2010. Brooks was there in 2012 and 2013. Browner was there from 2007 to 2010.
Gayle Benson joins Tulane’s board
Tulane on Tuesday announced that Gayle Benson, a philanthropist and former interior designer who is the wife of Saints owner Tom Benson, joined the university’s board of administrators.
Gayle Benson’s appointment comes after she and her husband jointly donated $7.5 million to the construction of Yulman Stadium, Tulane’s new on-campus football stadium which is set to open for the 2014 season in the fall.
“Gayle is one of New Orleans’ most beloved figures,” Tulane President Scott Cowen said in a statement. “Her wisdom, devotion to the community and steady leadership will be indispensable as Tulane welcomes a new president (Michael Fitts, named in February) and continues its journey of enhanced impact, quality and distinction.”
Benson, for her part, said in a statement: “As a New Orleans native, I have always been proud of Tulane’s role as one of the country’s leading universities. I now cherish the opportunity to help shape its future.”
Among other things, the Bensons have donated millions of dollars to religious, educational and medical institutions in New Orleans and San Antonio, another city where the family’s patriarch has a number of business interests.
Gayle Benson began her professional career managing the New Orleans branch of a New York-based custom jeweler. She then became an interior designer and in 2004 married Tom Benson, who also owns the NBA’s New Orleans Pelicans.
— USC wide receiver Marqise Lee, who told Pro Football Talk Live last week that he was going to meet with the Saints, visited New Orleans’ facilities on Tuesday. Saints safety Kenny Vaccaro informed the public he had spotted Lee via Twitter, writing, “Hopefully we can get him in the draft! Explosive playmaker.”
— Speaking of Vaccaro: Falcons owner Arthur Blank said it bothered him that members of his team barely reacted when the Saints’ safety was flagged for a hit on Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan in a Week 1 road loss to New Orleans. Via ESPN, Blank told Atlanta radio station 680 The Fan that none of Ryan’s teammates said anything to Vaccaro about it, and that the Falcons need to be tougher than that.
“That play really bothered me, sincerely,” Blank reportedly said. “It bothered me that none of our players, they all complained, but none of them went to the safety on the Saints and did anything.”
— At a luncheon Wednesday, the All-State Sugar Bowl Chapter of the National Football Foundation/College Football Hall of Fame will honor longtime Saints radio announcer Jim Henderson as well as team president Dennis Lauscha for their contributions to New Orleans as well as the sport of football.
Henderson will be presented with the Contribution to Amateur Football Award, and Lauscha (also the president of the Pelicans) will receive the Distinguished American Award at the Hilton Riverside hotel.