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New Orleans Saints

Stadium: Mercedes-Benz Superdome | Coach: Sean Payton
Team RankingOverallRushingPassing
Offense1st116.5 (12th)299.7 (3rd)
Defense31st129.5 (29th)261.5 (29th)

Saints report: Notes, quotes, anecdotes

 
Strategy and personnel | Inside slant
 
--The miraculous 75-yard touchdown by the Saints on the final play of their Dec. 21 game with the Jacksonville Jaguars has been voted by fans as the first NFL Play of the Year.

The winner of the award, which is sponsored by Levitra, was revealed during a news conference held in conjunction with activities surrounding Super Bowl XXXVIII. Former Saints coach Mike Ditka presented the award to running back Deuce McAllister -- one of five Saints involved in the play.

Wide receiver Donte Stallworth caught a 42-yard pass from Aaron Brooks and set off a string of three laterals to Michael Lewis, McAllister and Jerome Pathon that ended when Pathon took the ball the final 21 yards and dove into the end zone for the score.

The touchdown pulled the Saints to within one point of the Jaguars, but the extra point by John Carney was missed and the Jaguars held on for a 20-19 victory.

"All the plays were great," Ditka said. "But this was a phenomenal play. In the history of the NFL, you may not see anything like it again."

"It was about effort," said McAllister. "You keep trying and don't quit. Good things will happen if you don't quit."

--The Saints have agreed to terms with tight end Boo Williams on a new three-year contract. Williams, a third-year pro who was scheduled to become a restricted free agent in March, started the last six games of 2003 after Ernie Conwell was sidelined with a fractured ankle.

A converted college wide receiver, Williams responded with 29 receptions for 347 yards and four touchdowns in those six games. He finished the 2003 season with a career-high 41 catches for 436 yards and five TDs, the highest totals for a Saints tight end since 1998.

Since joining the Saints as an undrafted free agent in 2001, Williams has added more than 40 pounds to his 6-foot, 4-inch frame. That has helped him polish his blocking skills while making the conversion to tight end.

Williams set career highs with nine catches for 110 yards at Philadelphia on Nov. 23, his first game following Conwell's injury. Williams began his NFL career on the Saints' practice squad, but has caught 74 catches for 781 yards and 10 TDs while playing in 43 games.

--Running back Deuce McAllister, who was voted to his second straight Pro Bowl, has pulled out of the Feb. 8 game because of a sprained right knee.

McAllister injured the knee in the second-to-last game of the season. He said he wanted to play in the Pro Bowl, but decided not to risk further injury. The injury will not require surgery, he said, and with some rest should be ready for the start of off-season workouts in late March.

The Saints' other representative to the Pro Bowl, right guard LeCharles Bentley, also had to pull out of the game. Bentley, a second-year pro, had surgery on Dec. 29 to repair a torn ACL in his left knee.

--The Saints will probably be looking at cornerbacks in the draft, so it was no surprise when coach Jim Haslett tracked down Oklahoma's Derrick Strait at the Senior Bowl workouts and had a lengthy chat with him.

Even though the Saints will probably be looking to add some youngsters at the position, Haslett said it's much too early in the evaluation process to begin naming names or identifying targets.

"It's early," he said. "We're just starting to get to know these players and find out about them. This is the first chance for the coaches to see players in person, to talk to them and get a feel for them. I've been telling the media, 'Don't ask me about players.' We're just getting started."

--The Saints still have to hire an assistant strength and conditioning coach to fill out Haslett's coaching staff.

Jerry Palmieri, who served in that capacity last season, joined Tom Coughlin's staff with the New York Giants. Palmieri was the strength and conditioning coach for Coughlin when he was with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

--The Saints have allocated six players to NFL Europe this spring.

The players are quarterback J.T. O'Sullivan, cornerback Ahmad Brooks, wide receiver Derrick Lewis, linebacker LaMarcus McDonald, guard Chad Setterstrom, and defensive tackle Kevin Watson.

--Brooks, McDonald and Watson were among 12 free agents recently signed by the Saints.

The others are tackle Ben Archibald, running backs Tavian Banks and Ronney Jenkins, wide receivers Nathan Black and Chris Vance, cornerbacks Fred Booker and Maurice Tucker, and tight ends Danny Curley and Shawn Draper.

Copyright (C) 2003 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.

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