An early look at the Saints’ kicker battle between Dustin Hopkins and Zach Hocker

Buffalo Bills kicker Dustin Hopkins (5) and holder Shawn Powell (6) watch a field goal attempt during an NFL preseason football game against the Minnesota Vikings Friday, Aug. 16, 2013, in Orchard Park, N.Y.  (AP Photo/Bill Wippert)

It might not be the most exciting or chronicled battle of the offseason. It’s not the kind of thing that moves the needle in print or over the airwaves. But the battle between New Orleans Saints kickers Dustin Hopkins and Zach Hocker should be one of the more closely contested fights this offseason, and it carries significant importance.… Continue reading →

Zach Strief not bothered by Saints picking Andrus Peat; Strief, 'I understand how it works, and I also understand I'm not playing forever'

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Saints tackle Zach Strief blocks defensive end Cameron Jordan during training camp last summer at The Greenbriar in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va.

Zach Strief didn’t get a call on draft night. And he never expected one, not even after New Orleans surprised almost everybody by taking Andrus Peat with the 13th pick. A few members of Strief’s family, his father in particular, kept expecting the Saints to call their starting right tackle and offer some insight behind the… Continue reading →

Saints’ Davis Tull offseason checklist: Get healthy, get on the field and get to learning

Staff Photo by Doug Strickland/Chattanooga Times Free Press -- Chattanooga's Davis Tull

Davis Tull isn’t able to learn at the same rate as the rest of the Saints’ rookies. Not right now, at least. The Chattanooga product, who is being asked to make the transition from defensive end to outside linebacker in the New Orleans defense, is still rehabbing his shoulder after undergoing surgery to repair a torn labrum in… Continue reading →

Keep an eye on Saints' Delvin Breaux; Rob Ryan, Sean Payton, Keenan Lewis using words like 'tremendous,' 'star' to describe him

Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKER --Delvin Breaux, New Orleans Voodoo Friday, March 8, 2013.

It didn’t take Delvin Breaux long to attach himself to a veteran. Trying to make the jump from the Canadian Football League to contributor for the New Orleans Saints, Breaux immediately sought out Brandon Browner and began picking his brain. Browner knows the path Breaux is trying to walk. He helped draw it by jumping from… Continue reading →

Saints seek starter-caliber player at 'Star' position in Rob Ryan’s defense; rookies P.J. Williams or Damian Swann could be answer

Florida State defensive back P.J. Williams runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Monday, Feb. 23, 2015. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez) ORG XMIT: INJC12

The days of getting by in the secondary with a serviceable third cornerback lining up in the slot ended a long time ago in the NFL. A team’s fifth defensive back is essentially a starter now, a key component to “nickel” defenses in an era when all but two or three teams throw the ball more than… Continue reading →

Last remaining unsigned player for Saints, Andrus Peat, agrees to rookie deal

Saints first-round pick Andrus Peat

The Saints have locked up all members of their rookie class. Andrus Peat, the last remaining unsigned player, agreed to terms with the Saints on Thursday afternoon, according to Yahoo Sports. Peat, an offensive tackle, was selected with the 13th overall pick. He worked primarily at right tackle during rookie minicamp and is expected to compete with Zach Strief and… Continue reading →

R.J. Harris is looking to become the latest undrafted free agent wide receiver to hook on in New Orleans

Advocate staff photo by RICHARD ALAN HANNON -- Southeastern Louisiana Lions linebacker Drew Misita (20) grab ahold of New Hampshire Wildcats wide receiver R.J. Harris (15) during the first half of the Division 1 Championship quarter final on Saturday, December 15, 2013, in Strawberry Stadium in Hammond.

It’s impossible to know what, exactly, running back Nico Steriti was thinking when he pulled back and let the ball fly. Throughout the season, wide receiver R.J. Harris was often quarterback Sean Goldrich’s security blanket. He leaned on him for a bail out whenever the University of New Hampshire offense neared bankruptcy. But what… Continue reading →

Former Saints safety Marcus Ball signs with Carolina Panthers

Marcus Ball, the CFL find who landed a spot with New Orleans last season, has found a new home. A week after the Saints released him, Ball has signed with the Carolina Panthers, the team announced Thursday morning. Ball, who made his mark in two seasons playing for the Toronto Argonauts, was signed by the Saints last year and played… Continue reading →

Saints release receiver Andy Tanner, sign offensive lineman Mike McGlynn

New Orleans Saints wide receiver Andy Tanner (14) makes a 15-yard touchdown reception against the Houston Texans during the second half of a preseason NFL football game on Sunday, Aug. 25, 2013, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Andy Tanner has been involved in so many roster moves during his time with the Saints, it’s hard to ever call it the end. If Wednesday’s release is the final one the wide receiver is involved with, his tenure in New Orleans will be most remembered for the number of times his name has come across the transaction wire. Dating back to… Continue reading →

Tyrone Hughes reflects on Saints career, the art of kick returning and desire to do more with former team

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON--New Orleans natives Michael Lewis and Tyrone Hughes laugh after an announcement about them being inducted into the 2015 New Orleans Saints Hall of Fame at Superdome in New Orleans, La. Tuesday, May 19, 2015. Lewis was a former Budweiser beer truck driver and had the nickname "Beer Man" and played at many semi-pro leagues before earning a spot on the Saints, and is pointing to the Bud Light sign behind Hughes. Hughes, a 1993 fifth round pick by the Saints, owns the NFL record for most kickoff return yards in a single game when he returned two kickoffs for 304 yards and two touchdowns against the Los Angeles Rams in 1994.

Former St. Augustine star Tyrone Hughes is headed into the Saints Hall of Fame this year along with fellow return man Michael Lewis. With that honor in tow, Hughes had a chance to reflect on his career, both at the podium and in a later interview with the Advocate, on Tuesday. Here’s his thoughts, edited and… Continue reading →

No longer a basketball player, Harold Spears is trying to win a job at tight end with the Saints

One of the biggest issues facing rookies entering the NFL is the speed of the game. Players are bigger, faster, stronger. Offenses move at quicker paces. The playbooks are complex. But for undrafted rookie tight end Harold Spears, who is entering the NFL out of the University of New Hampshire, he’ll never have to worry about… Continue reading →

Saints quarterback Drew Brees, wife Brittany to become co-owners of Walk-On’s Enterprises, unsure about letting “cat out of the bag” yet about other restaurants

Advocate staff photo by A.J. SISCO  --  Rick Farrell, Drew Brees and Brandon Landry pose for a photo at the Walk-On's Bistreaux and Bar in New Orleans. The New Orleans Saints quarterback and his wife have come aboard as co-owners of Walk-On's, a move that will help the popular sports bar chain grow locally and nationally.

Walk-On’s Bistreaux and Bar has brought in a Super Bowl MVP as part of an effort to expand the chain of sports bars locally and nationally. New Orleans Saints Quarterback Drew Brees and his wife, Brittany, reached a deal Monday to become co-owners of Walk-On’s Enterprises, the Baton Rouge company that created and operates four popular… Continue reading →

N.O. natives and kick return specialists Michael Lewis, Tyrone Hughes to enter Saints Hall together

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON--New Orleans natives Michael Lewis and Tyrone Hughes laugh after an announcement about them being inducted into the 2015 New Orleans Saints Hall of Fame at Superdome in New Orleans, La. Tuesday, May 19, 2015. Lewis was a former Budweiser beer truck driver and had the nickname "Beer Man" and played at many semi-pro leagues before earning a spot on the Saints, and is pointing to the Bud Light sign behind Hughes. Hughes, a 1993 fifth round pick by the Saints, owns the NFL record for most kickoff return yards in a single game when he returned two kickoffs for 304 yards and two touchdowns against the Los Angeles Rams in 1994.

Michael Lewis and Tyrone Hughes were always meant to go into the Saints Hall of Fame together. Both men played in exactly 63 games for the Saints, making their marks as electrifying return specialists who turned in one All-Pro season apiece and posted nearly identical statistics in their time in New Orleans. Both players are New Orleans… Continue reading →

New Orleans Saints release Shayne Graham, create 2-way kicker battle

Advocate staff photo by SCOTT THRELKELD -- New Orleans Saints kicker Shayne Graham (3) and New Orleans Saints quarterback Luke McCown (7) react after Graham missed a field goal during the second quarter Sunday, Dec. 7, 2014, at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Carolina won 41-10.

The Saints announced Tuesday that they have released kicker Shayne Graham, leaving the team with Zach Hocker and Dustin Hopkins at the position. Continue reading →

Back up those NFL extra points: The line of scrimmage for PATs is now the 15-yard line

Associated Press file photo -- Chiefs kicker Cairo Santos knocks through an extra point against the Buffalo Bills during a game last season. Santos and other kickers will attempt longer PATs this season, now that NFL teams voted to move the line of scrimmage to the 15. Defenses will now be allowed to score on 2-point conversion turnovers.

SAN FRANCISCO — The NFL is moving back extra-point kicks and allowing defenses to score on conversion turnovers. The owners on Tuesday approved the competition committee’s proposal to snap the ball from the 15-yard line on PATs to make them more challenging. In recent seasons, kickers made more than 99 percent of the kicks with… Continue reading →

New Orleans invited to bid on the 2019, 2020 Super Bowls by NFL, so who's the competition this time?

Rendering provided by the New Orleans Saints -- An artist rendering of renovations to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Thwarted in bidding for Super Bowl LII in 2018 a year ago, New Orleans is being invited to bid on the 2019 and 2020 games. Atlanta, Miami and Tampa Bay also are receiving invitations from the NFL’s Super Bowl selection committee at Wednesday’s final session of the annual league meetings in San Francisco, Saints President Dennis Lauscha said Tuesday. The games will… Continue reading →

Even after the Saints traded Ben Grubbs and drafted Andrus Peat, the offensive line’s returnees don’t expect major revamping

Advocate staff photo by ELIOT KAMENITZ-- New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) passes as New Orleans Saints tackle Terron Armstead (72) and New Orleans Saints tackle Zach Strief (64) try to hold off the defensive line of San Francisco 49ers at a NFL game in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, La. Sunday, Nov. 9, 2014.

When the New Orleans Saints selected Stanford tackle Andrus Peat with the 13th pick in the draft, the choice prompted more questions than answers. With Peat in the fold, would Zach Strief or Terron Armstead kick inside to fill the spot at guard left by traded veteran Ben Grubbs? What did Peat’s selection mean… Continue reading →

Saints quarterback Drew Brees makes first published comments on Garrett Grayson, says 'I’ve been impressed with what I’ve seen so far'

Colorado State quarterback Garrett Grayson waits for snap against Hawaii in the first quarter of an NCAA college football game in Fort Collins, Colo., on Saturday, Nov. 8, 2014. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

One couldn’t blame Drew Brees if he decided to shun Garrett Grayson and treat him like a threat. In some ways, that’s exactly what Grayson is. Right now, while he’s still at the top of his game, Brees has nothing to worry about. He is still one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. But… Continue reading →

Saints waive four players to get their roster down to 90

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- LSU cornerback Jalen Collins (32) comes up with the game winning interception as Texas A&M Aggies wide receiver Malcome Kennedy (84) tries to make the stop during the 4th quarter Thursday, Nov. 27, 2014 in College Sta

The Saints have made the requisite moves to get back down to 90 players. After offering contracts to linebacker Henry Coley, kicker Zach Hocker, offensive lineman Antonio Johnson, and wide receivers Josh Morgan and Kyle Prater, the team announced the release of four other players. Among those let go were offensive lineman Doniel Gambrell, guard Andrew Miller, linebacker Stephon Sanders, and… Continue reading →

He might not have solely picked the groceries, but the Saints’ Rob Ryan believes he has the ingredients for a good defense

New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan during the third quarter of an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday, Dec. 28, 2014, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Brian Blanco)

After the Saints walked away from the draft with six defensive players, a talking point emerged that defensive coordinator Rob Ryan handpicked the groceries for the upcoming season. This isn’t true — at least not entirely. While New Orleans certainly made an effort to acquire players who fit his scheme and a certain profile, Ryan wasn’t any more… Continue reading →

Saints looking for Marcus Murphy to contribute as return man, third-down back

Associated Press photo by L.G. PattersonMissouri's Marcus Murphy returns a punt 70 yards for a touchdown in a 2012 game against Southeastern Louisiana. Murphy, whom the New Orleans Saints drafted in the seventh round, returned two punts and five kickoffs for TDs while at Missouri.

Marcus Murphy knows exactly what he was drafted to do. The former Missouri star spent most of the draft process as an afterthought in a deep running back class, a group that included plenty of every-down backs who might someday develop into workhorses for an NFL team. The Saints drafted Murphy for a different purpose altogether. After losing… Continue reading →

Sources: Saints make several roster moves over weekend, add two wide receivers, kicker

Chicago Bears wide receiver Josh Morgan (19) gives a stiff arm to Green Bay Packers cornerback Davon House (31) during an NFL game at Soldier Field in Chicago on Sunday, Sept. 28, 2014. (Jeff Haynes/AP Images)

New Orleans has signed a handful of players who worked out at this week’s rookie minicamp, including wide receiver Josh Morgan, according to multiple sources. The team has signed kicker Zach Hocker, wide receiver Kyle Prater and offensive lineman Antonio Johnson and released linebacker Stephon Sanders, according to sources. The University of Virginia official football Twitter reported that… Continue reading →

Source: New Orleans Saints sign OL Antonio Johnson

One dreamer at this week’s rookie minicamp managed to take advantage of his opportunity.

After inviting him to work out alongside 67 other players over the last three days, the Saints decided to ink North Texas offensive lineman Antonio Johnson to a contract, according to a source.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Johnson played alongside Cyril Lemon, who signed… Continue reading →

Source: Saints sign OL Antonio Johnson

One dreamer at this week’s rookie minicamp managed to take advantage of his opportunity.
After inviting him to work out alongside 67 other players over the last three days, the Saints decided to ink North Texas offensive lineman Antonio Johnson to a contract, according to a source.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Johnson played alongside Cyril Lemon, who signed as an… Continue reading →

He might not have solely picked the groceries, but the Saints’ Rob Ryan believes he has the ingredients for a good defense

New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan during the third quarter of an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday, Dec. 28, 2014, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Brian Blanco)

After the Saints walked away from the draft with six defensive players, a talking point emerged that defensive coordinator Rob Ryan handpicked the groceries for the upcoming season. This isn’t true — at least not entirely. While New Orleans certainly made an effort to acquire players who fit his scheme and a certain profile, Ryan wasn’t any more… Continue reading →

Saints rookie QB Garrett Grayson on learning under Drew Brees: ‘A dream come true for me’

Colorado State quarterback Garrett Grayson warms up before facing Air Force in the first quarter of an NCAA college football game at Air Force Academy, Colo., on Friday, Nov. 28, 2014. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Garrett Grayson hasn’t had a chance to think about taking over as the heir apparent to Drew Brees. He’s still starstruck by the man he might someday replace. Grayson, who hadn’t spoken with Brees since the Saints took him with the 75th pick of the draft three weeks ago, finally got a chance to meet the legend Saturday.… Continue reading →

Why New Orleans has swung, missed lately on hosting big events like Super Bowl, Final Four, College Football Playoff championship

Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKER -- The Mercedes-Benz Superdome is lit up for Super Bowl XLVII in January 2013.

— Exodus 1:8 New Orleans missing out on landing a future Super Bowl, Final Four and College Football Playoff championship game within a year’s span wasn’t a tragedy of biblical proportions. But for a city accustomed to continually having such events on the docket since the early 1970s — and which… Continue reading →

Lewis: Reflecting on an unusual week for the power brokers of the Pelicans and Saints

Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKER -- Saints coach Sean Payton

It has been quite a week at 5800 Airline Highway. Excuse me — 5800 Airline Drive, the address in Metairie that’s the unique home of both the NFL’s Saints and NBA’s Pelicans. Tom Benson proprietor. So it should have been no surprise that when Saints coach Sean Payton spoke following Saturday’s morning session of the team’s rookie… Continue reading →