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Behind the Facemask: Rod Harper

WR worked at toy store before joining Saints.

Saints wide receiver Rod Harper looks to stay healthy in his second season with the squad. The 6-0, 209 pound receiver showed promise in the pre-season of 2009 and earned a roster spot primarily as a special team's player. Harper was placed on Injured Reserve for a stress fracture in his right foot on October 16th, 2009. The Murray State alum is back in training camp, looking to earn a spot on this year's team.

Harper talked with NewOrleansSaints.com about his practice routine, his football career before the NFL, and his injury last season.

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You caught a lot of passes and punts after practice today, talk a little bit about your after-practice routine.

"Every day, we have to go out and catch punts with the special teams circuit. It's important to catch extra punts, kicks, and balls on routes that you think you need work on."

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You originally signed with the Green Bay Packers. What did you do in your year away from football before you were signed by the Saints? Any odd jobs?

"I worked at Toys R Us for a few months, and then I went off to Arena 2 football."

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How is the training and preparation different for the AF2 than for the NFL?

"I didn't really train or prepare any differently because I didn't know I was going to go to Arena 2. It was just a call that happened for me, and within three days, I left. I just prepared the same way."

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What about the difference coming from a non-BCS school?

"The talent is higher. The people are faster and stronger. The playbook is more in depth, so it is something that you have to go out and focus on."

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What was your experience with the Saints last season?

"It was pretty good. I was able to come out and make some plays in training camp and in the pre-season. I got injured last year, so that hurt a little. Really, it just helped me prepare mentally so I could come out and make plays."

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What is your favorite thing about Saints training camp?

"Practice in general. I love it. I'm having a blast."

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Was there any frustration that you got hurt early on and were unable to complete the season?

"There is always frustration when you are unable to play. I think it ended up working out for the best. It allowed me to prepare a little more, mentally. It helped me understand the NFL and the business of it all."

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How do you feel like you have improved since last year at this time?

"I have gotten stronger than I ever was. I've added some explosiveness. I was able to rehab, and I've gained more power and have improved mentally."

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What player or coach has been particularly helpful in your path to the NFL?

"Coach CJ (Curtis Johnson). All the receivers help you, but Coach CJ stays on me. He'll have me running routes after practice. He has helped me as far as football, plays, business, and God goes. He helps me."

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After a full year here, what is your favorite thing about New Orleans?

"Canal Street. I really like Canal Street."

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Any favorite restaurants?

"Emeril's is pretty good. I also like Social City."

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What do you like to do off the field?

"I like to hang out, read my bible, and just chill."

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Being a Political Science major, what did you think about going to meet the President?

"It's going to be exciting. It allows us to see some business aspects of how the government is run. It will definitely be exciting. He is an influential man."

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