Saints’ offensive line beat up after Brown injures leg in morning practice|[08/08/07]

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 8, 2007

JACKSON – The crash and moans of star left tackle Jammal Brown Tuesday morning at the New Orleans Saints’ training camp at Millsaps College sent far more chills down its fans’ spine than the disappointment of Sunday night’s loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the preseason Hall of Fame game in Canton, Ohio.

Brown, a Pro Bowl tackle in his third season with the Saints, went down during a scrimmage just two days after Sunday’s 20-7 preseason opening loss to the Steelers. Brown, out of Oklahoma, had to be carted off the field.

&#8220He just kind of fell right in the pile,” said Saints left guard Jamar Nesbit, a nine-year veteran. &#8220It’s really disappointing, to see him in that much pain. He’s my tackle.”

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Saints head coach Sean Payton said the initial reports from the training staff were positive. A Tuesday afternoon MRI revealed it was just a bone bruise and the knee was still structurally sound.

&#8220They said the knee was stable. Obviously, your left offensive tackle is an important part of your team,” Payton said.

Next to the quarterback, left tackle is the most demanding and vital position in pro football, because that linemen protects the quarterback’s blind side against the pass rush. Brown is easily the Saints’ most talented offensive lineman and was coming off his best season with the club after helping the team to the NFC South Division title and a spot in the NFC championship game.

Brown’s injury, coupled with the loss of center Jeff Faine, who’s out with a strained calf, and the Saints are looking at going into Friday night’s game against the Buffalo Bills at the Louisiana Superdome with a make-shift line.

&#8220You’re looking at having three-fifths of what we had last year,” Nesbit said of the Saints’ starting offensive line, which also includes the right side of tackle Jon Stinchcomb and guard Jahri Evans.

&#8220This is something else that we’re just going to have to fight through. We’ve got four more preseason games to work on it. The best way to get better is keep trying to improve your technique. That’s my plan,” Nesbit said.

Faine’s injury is not considered serious but he is also not likely to be back before training camp ends at Millsaps on Aug. 15. The Saints are cutting short their stay at Millsaps by a day after Payton reached an agreement with Cincinnati Bengals coach Marvin Lewis to have a practice together at the Bengals facility before the teams meet in a preseason game in Cincinnati on Aug. 18.

&#8220Basically we’re going to have two practices with them on that Thursday, it is not a scrimmage,” Payton said, in correcting a previous report by the Associated Press Tuesday. &#8220We’ll do some 7-on-7 work and some other drill work together. It gives us a different look, a change of scenery. Both me and Coach Lewis thought it would be a good benefit for both teams.”

The lackluster loss to the Steelers had already put the coaching staff in a sour mood. Tuesday morning’s practice was initially supposed to be a walk-through. Instead, it was the most punishing practice since the team started camp.

&#8220It was not meant to be punishment. But we did need to have a good week of practice and this was a tough practice,” Payton said.

A couple of the bright spots Payton did illuminate from the Steelers game was the play of defensive tackle Kendrick Clancy, an Ole Miss product; third string quarterback Jason Fife and the special teams play of Jason Craft and Illinois rookie Pierre Thomas.

&#8220Clancy did a good job and we have him now working with the first unit,” Payton said. &#8220I thought Fife showed us a spark and his unit did score the only touchdown.”

Vicksburg’s Johnson moves up with Packers

In other training camp news, former Vicksburg High Gator and Ole Miss linebacker Rory Johnson has moved up to the second team defensive unit with the Green Bay Packers.

Johnson, who left Ole Miss after his junior season, was listed as the team’s second string outside linebacker behind second-year pro and 2006 first-round draft pick A.J. Hawk out of Ohio State.

Johnson is trying to make the Packers roster after being signed as a non-drafted free agent. Off the field issues, including a failed drug test, kept Johnson from being selected. He had been considered worthy of a fourth-to-sixth-round selection in several draft publications.

Green Bay opens its preseason schedule Saturday at Pittsburgh.