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John DeShazier: Saints teammates focused on Jon Dorenbos' health

Posted Sep 8, 2017

Players grateful heart issue was detected by team doctor John Amoss

Jon Dorenbos was a Saint for less than two weeks, acquired via trade with Philadelphia on Aug. 28 to, hopefully, be the solution to New Orleans’ procession of long snapper candidates this offseason.

Still, in that brief amount of time, Dorenbos’ newest – and final – teammates were stunned as the 14-year veteran received the news that his NFL career had reached its conclusion, after a follow-up physical revealed he has an aortic aneurysm which must be repaired via open heart surgery.

Saints Coach Sean Payton shared the findings Friday morning during his teleconference with local media.

“Any time you face a life-threatening thing like this, it’s serious,” quarterback Drew Brees said. “You see it as a blessing that he was traded here because this is something that was not caught on any of his other physicals. It sounds like, from the prognosis, that it was just a ticking time bomb with his heart.

“For a doctor like (Saints team physician) John Amoss, like we have, who was able to identify that and help him get further tests and realize exactly what it was and now what needs to be done – obviously it’s extremely unfortunate that it’s a career-ending thing – but it’s a life-saver. It saves his life.

“So we just want the best for him, we want him to be healthy and in our short time around him, he seemed like a great guy, a guy who would have been great for this team. He made a few comments to us about just what he felt by coming down here and being part of this locker room and the guys in here, and just saying how much he enjoyed that and how much he was looking forward to the season. Unfortunately, his career is over but we’re just glad that he’s going to be OK.”

Dorenbos was a two-time Pro Bowler who spent the majority of his career with the Eagles, from 2006-16. He played in a franchise record-tying 162 consecutive regular-season games for Philadelphia. He also gained notoriety by having a parallel career as a magician during his NFL tenure.

For the Saints, Dorenbos only was active for this year’s preseason finale, against Baltimore. Still, he not only formed a bond in the locker room in general, but specifically with the two teammates with whom he had the most direct contact, punter Thomas Morstead and kicker Wil Lutz.

“Just, concern for him,” Morstead said. “Obviously, it’s a scary thing. I’m excited because it’s like a good thing he got traded here. They might not have ever found it and then something could have happened. Just really feel fortunate that that was the case that they could find it. Hopefully, whatever needs to be done can be done and he’ll be happy and healthy after that.”

Said Lutz: “Health is first so we’re praying for him and his wife. It’s extremely unfortunate. I know he’s really shaken up by it. We’re praying for him, his health is more than anything.

“He’s a great dude. He’s a locker-room guy. He brightened the locker room for everybody with his magic tricks. It was awesome to have him here. I was able pick his brain for a little bit because he’s been around for 14 years. It was huge, being a young guy, to have another veteran like Thomas to (learn from). But we’ve got to next-man-up now.”

The next man up will be the sixth long snapper for the Saints since the 2016 regular season concluded. The Saints auditioned several long snappers Friday.

“This is when you’re tested most,” Lutz said. “You’ve got to take it and run with it, find a way to get the job done. We’re going to get a good session in with the new guy (Saturday) and once we figure out whoever it is, we’ll get it going and we have a couple of days to kind of start gelling and go from there.”

Morstead, who’s entering his ninth season, said he never has experienced the kind of long snapper turnover that the Saints have seen this offseason.

 “It’s just, next guy up and we’ll get him up to speed as quickly as we possibly can," Morstead said. "No one cares – it’s all about being ready Monday.

“About six-and-a-half years ago, it was Thanksgiving week, we brought in (former long snapper Justin) Drescher and a number of other guys to work out when Jason Kyle went down. That ended up being a good fit for a long time and we’ve had a lot of success. Hopefully, we can have a good transition with whoever we sign today.”

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