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Saints bring in C Alex Parsons for practice squad

The Saints added depth to their offensive line by signing free-agent center Alex Parsons to the practice squad, coach Sean Payton said Wednesday.

To make room for Parsons, the Saints (1-2) released guard Antoine McClain from the practice squad.

Parsons, who was active for 16 games for Oakland in 2012 and started one, arrives after first-string New Orleans center Jonathan Goodwin injured his ankle in a 20-9 victory over Minnesota this past Sunday. If Goodwin isn’t ready to play at Dallas (2-1) this upcoming Sunday, it’s expect second-year interior offensive lineman Tim Lelito will take his place; and reserve Senio Kelemete will be the reserve at guard and center.

Parsons entered the NFL as an undrafted rookie out of Southern California who signed with Oakland in 2010. That team waived him with an injury settlement in August 2013. He was with Cleveland through the 2014 preseason but didn’t make the team.

Parsons remains eligible for practice squads because he has appeared in fewer than 32 regular-season games in the NFL.

Fans getting fed up with NFL after violence cases? Maybe not as much as you’d think, S.I. poll shows

It’d be understandable to think fans far and wide are getting fed up with the NFL after developments in domestic abuse cases involving former Ravens running back Ray Rice, Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy, 49ers defensive end Ray McDonald and Arizona running back Jonathan Dwyer as well as the pending child-abuse charges against Vikings running back Adrian Peterson.

But that’d be an incorrect assumption to make, according to a Sports Illustrated online nationwide poll that examined the opinions of more than 500 NFL fans — both men and women — between Sept. 18 and 21. While there’s some disgust and disbelief in the headlines NFL personalities have made, fans are also showing a good measure of loyalty to the league shield.

For example, 29 percent of fans polled believed that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell should keep his job — 38 percent thought he should go, and 34 percent were unsure. Calls for Goodell’s resignation have been ubiquitous in traditional media and social networks, which might explain any surprise at the percentage of fans who support his keeping his office.

Other results are:

20%…Goodell’s approval rating among the 179 female fans polled

46%…Percentage of fans that believe the NFL players are not good role models.

66%…Percentage of fans that say the recent studies of long-term health risks of head injuries have no effect on their interest in the NFL

38%…Percentage of fans that were familiar with the degenerative brain disease CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy)

85%…Percentage of fans that stated they would let their son play tackle football; 91% of these said they played tackle football themselves

-79%…Percentage of fans that do not consider the Redskins an offensive name

-34%…Percentage of fans that say the events over the course of the last month have negatively impacted their stance on public funding for NFL stadiums

“Amid all the raw emotion that the actions, or inaction, of the NFL has generated in the last several weeks, (Sports Illustrated) wanted to take some measure of whatever shifts in attitude have taken place toward the game itself, toward the people who play it, toward the people who run it,” magazine Managing Editor Christian Stone said in a statement. “What emerges is a lot of gray. There is anger, disgust and disbelief reflected in some of the results. And there is plenty to suggest that fan loyalty and interest still trumps a lot of those aforementioned emotions.”

Jacksonville Jaguars sign Nic Jacobs off Saints’ practice squad

The New Orleans Saints lost one from their practice squad.

Nic Jacobs, who joined the Saints as an undrafted rookie out of McNeese State, has been signed to the Jacksonville Jaguars’ 53-man roster, the Jaguars announced.

New Orleans signed tight end Orson Charles to take Jacobs’ place on the practice squad.

Charles appeared in 29 games with the Cincinnati Bengals between 2012 and 2013. Cut in August, he spent some time on the Titans’ practice squad before being released earlier this month.

Jacobs was signed to New Orleans’ practice squad coming out of training camp. As a senior at McNeese State, Jacobs caught 32 passes for 453 yards with four touchdowns.

Jacobs transferred schools after missing the final three games of his sophomore season at LSU for violating team rules.

Players on practice squads are free to sign with another team,  but must be placed on the 53-man roster. They cannot sign with an upcoming opponent unless the move is made six days in advance.

Jonathan Goodwin will miss time with high ankle sprain, NFL Network reports

Veteran Saints center Jonathan Goodwin has a high ankle sprain and is likely to miss time with the injury, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported Monday.

Goodwin left the Saints’ 20-9 victory at home against Minnesota on Sunday after hurting his left foot on a rushing play in the third quarter and didn’t return. He was replaced by backup center/guard Tim Lelito, in his second year with the Saints and Goodwin’s main preseason competition at the position.

Lelito on Monday said to reporters that the possibility of starting at center in the intermediate future in light of Goodwin’s injury doesn’t daunt him. He prepares himself weekly to start at any interior offensive line position, he said.

Lelito started in two wins as a rookie at right guard for the Saints.

Saints coach Sean Payton declined to discuss Goodwin’s health at a news conference Monday. Goodwin on Sunday told The Advocate he was planning to undergo an MRI and was hoping for the best for himself.

The MRI will determine the severity of the injury, Rapaport said.

The Saints (1-2) face Dallas (2-1) on the road on Sunday night.

Stock watch: Curtis Lofton up, Patrick Robinson down following win over Vikings

A look at how a few players saw their stock change during the New Orleans Saints’ 20-9 win over the Minnesota Vikings:

Flying high

LB Curtis Lofton: The linebacker was all over the place during Sunday’s game, recording at least three run stuffs. He also stuffed a pair of screens for a combined loss of 12 yards.

“I feel great,” Lofton said. “I love playing in this defense and I feel it’s catered to linebackers. … The main thing for me is I just want to get back to being sideline to sideline, getting pressure on the quarterback, dropping back in coverage. Just kind of showing what I can do. I feel like I’ve been doing that the last three games.”

DE Junior Galette: Playing 4-3 defensive end for most of the game, Galette had several pressures, recorded a sack, and had two quarterback hits. He was the most active player on the defensive line.

“I don’t feel like we ever had a problem,” Galette said. “I feel like the situations we’ve been in, as far as the first two games, we didn’t finish. As far as the sacks, you have to wait until the end of the year and then you can judge where we’re at. As far as the first two games, people saying, ‘We’re not getting pressure.’ I’m like, ‘I have the same numbers as last year going into the third game.’ I’m not doing anything different. I’m playing just as hard.”

TE Josh Hill: The tight end took advantage of the attention being paid to Jimmy Graham by sneaking open to make two catches for 48 yards. He also scored a touchdown.

“I think he played well,” coach Sean Payton said. “I think there were times where where were things specifically later in the game, whether it’s a protection or in the run game, we will work on some of his fundamentals. Obviously with Ben (Watson) going down in the second half, he had to step up and play more and he did make some big plays for us.”

Shaking down

CB Patrick Robinson: A starter the first two games, Robinson only got on the field in dime packages Sunday. And that happened only after Brian Dixon suffered an injury in the second quarter.

Offense in second and third quarter: The offense got off to a great start and finished strong, but punting on four consecutive drives is typically a recipe for disaster.

Saints QB Drew Brees, Vikings CB Captain Munnerlyn discuss suplex play during New Orleans’ win Sunday

Advocate staff photo by SCOTT THRELKELD --  The Minnesota Vikings were called for roughing after Minnesota Vikings cornerback Captain Munnerlyn (24) and Minnesota Vikings strong safety Robert Blanton (36) sacked New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) during the third quarter Sunday, Sept. 21, 2014, at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Advocate staff photo by SCOTT THRELKELD — The Minnesota Vikings were called for roughing after Minnesota Vikings cornerback Captain Munnerlyn (24) and Minnesota Vikings strong safety Robert Blanton (36) sacked New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) during the third quarter Sunday, Sept. 21, 2014, at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Saints quarterback Drew Brees didn’t know who suplexed him pro wrestling-style during his team’s 20-9 victory against the Vikings at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Sunday. When he got up and went after Vikings cornerback Robert Blanton, it’s because that was the first player Brees saw, the quarterback said after the game, which improved the Saints’ 2014 record to 1-2.

Brees later realized it was Vikings cornerback Captain Munnerlyn who got flagged for a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty for slamming the Saints quarterback into the turf on what would’ve been a sack on a third-and-15 during the final play of the third quarter. Brees said he subsequently marched over to Munnerlyn (a former member of the NFC South rival Carolina Panthers), calmly told him, “Listen, I like you. I think you’re a good football player. I appreciate the 15 yards.”

The Saints QB then huddled up with his teammates and said, “All right, fellas. We got to stick it to ‘em.”

And stick it to them the Saints did.

On the next two drives, Brees (27-of-35 for 293 yards and two touchdowns) threw his second score of the day to help put New Orleans up 20-9 with 12:22 to go in the game. The next time the Saints touched the ball, they converted five first downs to drain the final 6:58 of the contest off the clock.

Prior to the most-talked about sequence of Sunday’s Saints game, the Saints had scored two touchdowns on their first two possessions to take a 13-0 lead. The Saints punted the ball on each of their following four possessions, gaining a paltry 56 yards on those advances.

The Saints were about to punt again at the end of the third quarter from their 32 after Brees was corralled seven yards behind the line of scrimmage. But Munnerlyn capped the play off by wrapping his arms around Brees’ waist, lifting the Saints quarterback and then falling backwards with him. Munnerlyn slammed Brees down, and Blanton jumped atop both his teammate and the opposing signal-caller.

Brees leapt to his feet, shoved Blanton in the back and went after him before things settled down and the Saints put the game away. Brees said he believed the penalty re-focused the offense.

“It just sometimes helps you lock in and … just creates a little fire,” Brees said of plays such as the roughing penalty. “And listen, whatever it takes.”

Munnerlyn told reporters afterward that he hadn’t heard the whistle blow and was simply doing his best to get Brees to the ground.

“I was just letting him know I’m not a dirty player,” said Munnerlyn, who was with Carolina from 2009-13 and has faced the Saints 11 times. “I just play this game with a lot of passion.”

The 5-foot-9 cornerback added, “Me watching Drew Brees on film, you can have him wrapped up sometimes; and he still throws balls away. I just tried to wrap his arms up. I’m not a tall guy, so I just tried to wrap his arms up and tried to throw him to the ground. I didn’t try to body slam him or nothing like that. I was just letting him know.

“He was like ‘I know you’re not a dirty player. I’ve played against you a lot of times.’ I just talked to him about the play and let him know that I’m not that type of guy.”

Munnerlyn said he expected to be fined and to appeal any levy that may be imposed on him.

Multiple observers couldn’t resist noting that the Superdome had hosted the event Wrestlemania XXX in April.

Advocate correspondent Brian Allee-Walsh contributed to this report.

Welcome to the Superdome for today’s game between the Saints and Vikings

superdome

Welcome to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome for today’s game between the New Orleans Saints and Minnesota Vikings.

THE STAKES: It’s hard to make a case that any game this early in the season is a must-win situation, but this one might be an exception to the rule. The Saints dropped two heartbreakers to the Atlanta Falcons and Cleveland Browns to start the year. If they lose another one it might be difficult to get the season back on track.

THE PLAYERS: Given what’s at stake for the Saints, Adrian Peterson being deactivated for this game was not exactly bad news. With the star running back out of action, it will likely be up to quarterback Matt Cassel to lead Minnesota to victory. That’s a good thing for the Saints.

HEALTH: The only major injury the Saints are facing this week is to linebacker David Hawthorne, who has been ruled out with an ankle injury. With him on the sidelines, the expectation is that Ramon Humber will receive some of his snaps.

PREDICTING THE INACTIVES: S Marcus Ball, Hawthorne, RB Mark Ingram, and FB Erik Lorig have already been ruled out.

OL Tim Lelito: He’s dealing with a back issue that popped up Friday. The guess here is that Senio Kelemete dresses for the first time.

WR Nick Toon: He has dressed in either of the first two games. No reason to think it changes this week.

WR Joe Morgan: Do the Saints keep it the same and only have four receivers active, meaning that cornerback Stanely Jean-Baptiste dresses for the first time? This one is tough to gauge.

Last week: Six of seven correct.

ACTUAL INACTIVES: Ingram, Ball, Hawthorne, Lorig, Toon, Jean-Baptiste, and DL John Jenkins.

Not our best week in guessing the inactives.

Saints say Khiry Robinson has made great strides at running back

New Orleans Saints running back Khiry Robinson (29) runs against the Atlanta Falcons during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 7, 2014, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

New Orleans Saints running back Khiry Robinson (29) runs against the Atlanta Falcons during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 7, 2014, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Khiry Robinson was just running.

He dropped his head, tucked the ball, and went where he was told. There was rhyme and reason to the process, but it wasn’t much more than following orders.

He didn’t fully understand the blocking concepts and how he could use them to his advantage. Until late in the season, a lot of his success last year was the result of raw talent.

That is no longer the case.

“Towards the end (of the season) there he had a hot hand with regards to just the idea of measuring or grading his run decisions,” Saints coach Sean Payton said. “Certainly he is further along here in year two with the whole game.”

With Mark Ingram suffering a broken hand that will keep him out at least a few weeks, Robinson will have the opportunity to showcase his growth in a larger role over the next few weeks.

He’s already done so during the first two games of the season. His numbers (14 carries, 59 yards) aren’t overly impressive, but the manner in which they’ve been compiled has contained some impressive moments.

Most would point to a 21-yard touchdown run against the Falcons as his standout moment of the season, but that was mostly the result of good blocking. The more impressive moments have come on shorter runs, where Robinson has done a better job of reading his blocks and has displayed patience in waiting for holes to form.

“I think that he’s becoming a smarter runner,” tackle Zach Strief said. “He’s very naturally talented. He has a lot of abilities. … But there’s a lot that goes into running the ball in this league. That mental aspect — you’ve seen him grow a lot.”

How so?

“He understands fronts more, where plays are designed to go more and also the protections,” Payton said. “That has really been the area that you notice the most.”

- By Nick Underhill