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franklin county times

Saints focus on Bengals and getting healthy

By By Richard Dark / EMG staff writer
Dec. 20, 2002
NEW ORLEANS The talk at the New Orleans Saints training facility on Wednesday centered around the improving health of the team's stars and some speculation as to which Saints will be named to the Pro Bowl when the announcements are made today at 6 pm.
Former Ole Miss star and current Saints workhorse Deuce McAllister, who leads the NFC in rushing with 1,245 yards, along with teammates Michael Lewis and Joe Horn, were named to the NFC team, which will meet the AFC on Feb. 2 in Honolulu. Those three are widely considered the Saint players that have the best shot at landing a spot on the squad.
McAllister and Lewis finished first in fan balloting. Lewis is second in the conference in punt returns (12.7 yards per return) and is fourth in kickoff returns (26.0). He is the only NFC player with two kickoff returns for touchdowns this season, and also has returned a punt for a touchdown.
Even though all of the aforementioned three are more fixated toward getting into the postseason by beating the Cincinnati Bengals, this week, if McAllister gets the nod today, chances are, his bad wheel will be much better come time to depart for Hawaii.
Signs of improvement to the ankle of the running back are continuing to show, as he worked out extensively in practice without the protective boot brace has been wearing.
Can't give ''m away): If Saints fans think it's a big deal when certain home games are a tough sellout, barely missing TV blackout deadlines, just think about the dismal 1-13 Bengals. With hardly any fans coming to watch the league's sorriest franchise, city councilman Chris Monzel proposed giving away tickets to underprivileged kids in the city. He came up with the idea after his family tried unsuccessfully to get rid of their tickets last week. "We couldnt get rid of the tickets," Monzel said Wednesday. "Nobody wanted them."
The team sold only 42,092 tickets for the Jacksonville contest last Sunday. Officials estimated, of that figure, 10,000 were no-shows.
Injury update: Only two players were out of Wednesday's practice because of injury. Wide receiver Jerome Pathon (knee) and special teams player Steve Gleason (knee). Pathon is questionable for Sundays game, while Gleason, who had arthroscopic knee surgery on Tuesday, more than likely won't play.
The other questionables on the injury report are: linebacker Darrin Smith (ankle) and cornerback Keyuo Craver (shoulder). Quarterback Aaron Brooks, who threw in practice Wednesday for the first time that early in the week since sustaining the shoulder injury, is probable along with McAllister, Dale Carter (shoulder), Horn (shoulder), and LeCharles Bentley (ankle).
Riley misses out: Saints secondary coach Mike Riley, may have overplayed his hand. Just last week, he was in the catbird seat for job openings with Alabama and UCLA. After he turned down the Tide because he said he needed more time to look at UCLA, he wound up missing out on that opportunity, as the Pac 10 school filled its vacancy Wednesday night with Denver Broncos wide receivers coach Karl Dorrell.
Snow, schmoe: Haslett brushed off any notion that the elements will be a factor in this weeks game at Paul Brown Stadium. With preliminary forecasts of 33 degrees and snow, the Saints, a dome team, will face conditions they haven't seen in quite a while.
But the coach said no one is giving it a second thought. "We don' talk much about the elements. We went up to Baltimore two weeks ago and it was cold, but I dont remember one person even discussing it. I'm sure we will go up there and it will be cold. The field wont be very good. But we'll deal with it."
Holiday helping hands: Tuesday, many of the Saints were out and about in the metro area, lending their time and effort to make sure the community has a memorable holiday season.
McAllister and Horn did their part by volunteering to take approximately 40 underprivileged children to an area Wal-Mart, to buy them Christmas gifts.