Veterans impress short-handed Saints

Updated: August 12, 2009, 9:07 PM ET
Associated Press

METAIRIE, La. -- Veteran linebackers Derrick Brooks and Derek Smith completed workouts with the New Orleans Saints on Wednesday afternoon, leaving coaches impressed but uncommitted to signing either one of them.

"Those guys are both in great shape," head coach Sean Payton said. "We're not going to do anything right yet."

The club brought the two linebackers in for a look after learning that Mark Simoneau had a torn triceps in his right arm, which will require surgery.

The Saints open their preseason slate against Cincinnati on Friday night in the Louisiana Superdome, and Payton said the club would wait until after that game before deciding whether to sign another player.

When Payton disclosed Simoneau's injury on Tuesday, he initially thought Simoneau's surgery would be on Wednesday, but said after Wednesday afternoon's practice that the operation would not take place until Thursday.

The Saints would have several options with Simoneau. They could place him on injured reserve, ending his season, or possibly release him and hope to re-sign him when he heals later in the season. Or if the recovery is expected to be relatively quick, they could keep him on the roster.

"It's a question we haven't really answered yet," Payton said. "A lot of it is going to be based on how the surgery went and the doctor's prognosis."

Brooks, 36, is a 14-year veteran who's been named to 11 Pro Bowls. He has played his entire career for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who released him last winter.

Saints starting middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma called Brooks "one of my idols growing up."

"What more can you ask than to have a guy like that come in -- instant leadership, instant veteran play. I couldn't be happier if they did bring him in."

Smith, 34, has played for 12 years. He was a regular starter early in his career with Washington and San Francisco, but played in only a handful of games last season with San Diego and Miami.

Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams said a fellow NFL coach he trusts, who he declined to name, had spoken highly of Smith.

"It's really an even race," Williams said. "Both those guys you have to treat with great respect. They worked out very well. They really did. It was fun to watch them."

If the Saints sign either player, it would be only as a backup at first. The Saints starting linebacker, for now, appeared to be Vilma, Scott Fujita and Scott Shanle.

"In either player's case it would be as a guy that could come in and initially give us depth," Payton said. "There's going to be a learning curve that's pretty significant this late in the process.

Money is not expected to factor into whether the Saints decide to add Brooks or Smith, Payton said.

Payton said he did not think money would be an issue in "

"Both players are hungry and looking forward to an opportunity," the coach said. "I don't think that would be a big sticking point."

Notes

Boxer Roy Jones Jr. was among the guests at Saints practice. Jones is scheduled to fight Jeff "Left Hook" Lacy on Saturday night in Biloxi, Miss. Both boxers were invited to address the team and both did. "When you look at Roy Jones Jr.'s career, it's unbelievable," Payton said. "We can't have enough of those guys around our players -- guys that have been competitive and in the arena. They understand the battle. It should be an interesting fight Saturday night. I haven't followed it much, but there will be a little bit more focus on our part now having had a chance to meet these guys." Payton, however, said he would not make it to the fight because of training camp obligations. ... Payton said he expects to rest cornerback Tracy Porter and kick returner Courtney Roby, who both have sore hamstrings, for the first preseason game against the Bengals on Friday night, but wasn't sure about rookie Malcolm Jenkins, who reported to camp on Monday after a 10-day holdout.


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press