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Smith, Henderson Move To Top of Saints Seniority Class

METAIRIE - One day after veteran tackle Jon Stinchcomb was released, there are two new leaders on the list of longest tenured New Orleans Saints.

Will Smith and Devery Henderson were chosen in the first two rounds of the 2004 NFL Draft, one year after Stinchcomb.

"It's sad to see like Stinchcomb depart," Henderson said Tuesday. "There's nothing we can do about it but keep moving. For the most part, we just have to come out here on a daily basis and not worry about those things, get the work in."

Said Smith: "(Stinchcomb)'s a terrific guy, a terrific player, but his body just got the best of him. We definitely will miss him."

Does the release of a nine-year vet serve as a bit of a wake-up call to other veteran players?

"You can't feed into that type of stuff," Henderson said. "All you can control is what you do out there on a daily basis and what you do out on that field."

Will Smith at New Orleans Saints Training Camp (Photo: Parker Waters)Will Smith at New Orleans Saints Training Camp (Photo: Parker Waters)

Saints DE Will Smith (Photo: Parker Waters)

Smith is facing another challenge this preseason – a pending four-game suspension that would start with the season opener Sept. 8 at Green Bay. No final word has come down from the NFL on Smith's status, however.

"If I'm there, I'm there, and if I'm not, I'm not," Smith said. "You hope for the best and expect the worst."

Zach Strief and Charles Brown both saw time with the first unit at right tackle on Tuesday.

"I certainly didn't see exactly what happened, happening," Strief said of Stinchcomb's release. "The last couple of camps, I felt like that was the point I had to get to, to get a starting job."

The biggest difference on Tuesday, Strief said, was when the play was over.

"When I turn around, Jon's not there," he said. "I don't think playing feels different. We almost were constantly coaching each other. There was almost a constant critique between us."

COBBS IN: Stinchcomb's release left the Saints one player below the current NFL limit of 90, but the Saints got back to the maximum Tuesday when running back Patrick Cobbs signed a one-year deal.

Cobbs spent the last four seasons with the Miami Dolphins, with nearly as many receptions (32) as rushing attempts (37) in his career. He starred collegiately at North Texas, leading the nation in rushing in 2003.

JENKINS OUT: Of the players not practicing on Tuesday, the most notable was free safety Malcolm Jenkins, who was held out with a knee injury that was not deemed serious by head coach Sean Payton.

"I would see him being able to play this weekend (against the Texans Saturday) and practice by Thursday."

With Jenkins out of the lineup, Chris Reis took the majority of the reps at free safety with the No. 1 defense.

GOAL LINE DRILL: The defense appeared to win the first 11-on-11 goal-line work of camp, a spirited nine-play drill midway through the practice. Twice on third-and-goal from inside the 1, the first unit D stuffed Mark Ingram's attempt to score.

The first play of goal line, a pass from Drew Brees to David Thomas, was ruled out of the back of the end zone, but the offense finally scored on the last play – a pass from Sean Canfield to rookie tight end Michael Higgins.

OTHER PRACTICE NOTES: Brees was on target in an 11-on-11 series that began inside the 50, completing all four pass attempts, including a touchdown to Lance Moore. Brees and Moore also connected for a long TD earlier in the practice.

Darren Sproles broke off a 50-yard touchdown run in one of the team periods. Moore sprung him free with a key block.

Outside of the goal-line effort, the day's best defensive play was by linebacker Jonathan Casillas, who stripped tight end Jimmy Graham from behind at about the 15-yard line. The ball bounced two or three times before rolling through the back of the end zone for what would have been a touchback.

LAST CHANCE: Tuesday was the last opportunity for local fans to watch practice this preseason. The Saints will practice indoors Wednesday and Thursday afternoon.

When camp shifts next week to Oxnard, Calif., practices will be open to the public. The Monday practice will begin at 4:30 p.m. PDT (6:30 p.m. CDT), and the other practices will be a half-hour earlier.

 

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