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Dec 2, 2012 9:56pm
Medium lingzi 1454 posts

NEW ORLEANS —Short-handed and disappointed, but hardly crippled, the New
Orleans Saints may at last be able to put bounty scandals behind them and focus
on putting together a fourth-straight playoff season. Haloti Ngata Jersey . When the NFL first
announced as many as 27 current or ex-Saints participated in a cash-for-hits
bounty program, seemingly all Saints regulars on defence faced suspensions. As
it turned out, only two current Saints—linebacker Jonathan Vilma and
defensive end Will Smith—will be sanctioned. And while Vilma, a defensive
captain, is slated to miss the entire season, Smiths four-game suspension still
allows him to participate in training camp, as well as the final 12
regular-season games—and whatever playoff run the scandal-plagued but highly
motivated Saints might make. “We wish we had Will just like we wish we had
Jonathan, but other guys will step up,” Saints veteran right tackle Zach Strief
said in a phone interview. “All we can do is move on and allow the process to
run its course … and I have all the confidence in the world in the guys in the
locker room.” Smith said in a statement Wednesday, hours after his suspension
was announced, that he planned to appeal. Vilma at first said only that he would
fight what he perceived as an injustice perpetrated by NFL Commissioner Roger
Goodell, and then said on his Twitter page Thursday he “definitely” would
appeal. If Vilma is unable to win a reduction or delay in his suspension, the
Saints will still have proven players ready to step in. New Orleans signed three
linebackers in free agency, including two—Curtis Lofton and David Hawthorne
—who have extensive experience at Vilmas middle linebacker spot. The 6-foot,
241-pound Lofton was a second-round draft choice by the Falcons in 2008 and has
started 63 of his 64 games, including all 16 last season. The 6-foot, 236-pound
Hawthorne, entering his fifth year in the NFL, has started 41 games in his last
three seasons at Seattle. With new defensive co-ordinator Steve Spagnuolo
bringing in his own system, Vilma would not have had much advantage over Lofton
or Hawthorne in terms of experience in the system. Also, Vilma, who turned 30
last month, is coming off his worst season with the Saints. He missed five games
in 2011 because of nagging knee problems. He finished with 54 total tackles, one
quarterback hit and only one tackle for a loss with no sacks. Those numbers were
way down from the Saints Super Bowl run two seasons earlier, when Vilma led the
team with 110 total tackles, had two sacks among 10 tackles for losses, had 10
QB hits and three interceptions. If Vilmas appeal or potential legal manoeuvrs
succeed, he may have a chance to prove he can come back and play the way he did
before 2011. Otherwise, he might have to wait until the 2013 season. At
defensive end, the Saints have three players other than Smith with NFL
experience: 2011 first-round pick Cam Jordan, veteran Turk McBride and
third-year pro Junior Gallette. Last season, Smith was second on the club with 6
1/2 sacks, but Gallette had 4 1/2 sacks in a reserve role, showing the potential
to be more productive with more playing time. Jordan started all but one game in
his rookie season and will be expected to produce even more in 2012. The Saints
lost only the defensive tackles they let walk in free agency, and will have
four-year starter Sedrick Ellis joining free-agent pickup Brodrick Bunkley in
the middle, with veteran Tom Johnson rotating in and perhaps contributions from
third-round draft choice Akiem Hicks. The Saints still have their secondary
intact with the exception of cornerback Tracy Porter, who left in free agency.
However, former first-round draft choice Patrick Robinson, who led New Orleans
with four interceptions last season, was expected to slide into the starting
spot opposite veteran Jabari Greer. Both of the Saints hard-hitting safeties,
Roman Harper and Malcolm Jenkins, were spared bounty-related suspensions. That
had to come as a relief to Harper, who was flagged and fined repeatedly last
season for hits that came late or around the head of players he tackled. Harper
is keeping quiet for now, while the teams training headquarters is closed to
media. He has not returned a phone message left after the NFL announced player
punishments. The Saints as an organization also have not commented since the
player suspensions were announced. Theres been no word from general manager
Mickey Loomis or assistant head coach Joe Vitt—whos handling most head
coaching duties during Sean Paytons season-long suspension—concerning how the
club will respond to Vilma and Smith suspensions. Of the players who have spoken
up, most have done so on social media websites. Receiver Lance Moore, back along
with much of New Orleans record-setting offence, was among those who, in the
wake of the suspension, predicted continued success for a Saints club seeking a
fourth-straight playoff appearance. “We will be fine!!!” Moore tweeted. “Who Dat
all day!” Ray Lewis Jersey . He left without a win that
day, and he left the Twins shortly after. On Wednesday night, Marquis stood on
the same mound in a San Diego uniform, earning a better result and what he hopes
is a rebirth to his season. Torrey Smith Jersey . A video in which he
appeared to make fun of a trainer with Parkinsons disease didnt earn the former
welterweight champion many friends, either. http://www.ravensproshop.com/dennis-pitta-jerseys
. —Four Canadians are among the 10 finalists for the Patty Kazmaier Memorial
Award as the player of the year in NCAA Division I womens hockey. Terrell Suggs Jersey . Under an ice pack on
his right foot was a nasty bump, the size of a “camel hump” in his words. Torrey Smith Womens Jersey . Phoenix could
have used their new big man and Dallas surely needed their would-have-been – and
might-still-be – point guard on Wednesday night when the Suns pulled away to
beat the weary and short-handed Mavericks 109-97. NASHVILLE —Titans
quarterback Matt Hasselbeck says he will start Sunday against Tampa Bay and
coach Mike Munchak agrees after watching the veteran go through a limited
practice Wednesday. Hasselbeck banged his right elbow off a defender in last
weeks 23-17 loss to Atlanta midway through the third quarter. He told Tampa Bay
reporters Wednesday in a conference call that he will start against the
Buccaneers (4-6), then went out and practised. Munchak said Hasselbeck looked
good. “We didnt ask him to throw a lot of deep balls today. Hell start doing
that tomorrow, just want to be cautious there,” Munchak said. “If it was up to
us, we probably wouldnt have practised him at all like we hadnt the last few
weeks just to rest him in general and not necessarily because of the arm. He
wanted obviously to be out here and get some throws and do some things. “I think
he feels good. Its all about confidence. I dont think he has an awful lot of
soreness.” The 13-year veteran hit his throwing arm on a defenders helmet during
a pass attempt in Atlanta. Tests Monday showed no structural damage, though the
Titans (5-5) planned to limit him in practice Wednesday. Lardarius Webb Jersey. Hasselbeck doesnt
speak to local reporters until Thursday, but receiver Nate Washington said the
quarterback looked just like himself during practice. “He did everything he was
supposed to,” Washington said. “Made the reads when he was supposed to make
them, made the checks when he was supposed to make them. So he looked like
Matt Hasselbeck to me.” Hasselbeck goes into Sundays game having thrown at least
one touchdown pass in nine of 10 games this season, and he is 64 yards passing
away from 32,000 for his career. He worked behind a shuffled offensive line
Wednesday with left tackle Michael Roos (groin), centre Eugene Amano (hip
flexor) and right tackle David Stewart (right calf) not practising. Munchak said
Roos and Amano should practice Thursday and Stewart may be limited, and the
coach expects all three to be available Sunday. Notes: DE Derrick Morgan
(ankle), DT Karl Klug (bruised knee) and LB Barrett Ruud (groin) did not
practice. ’ ’ ’ 

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