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Dennis Allen prepared for first cutdown day as New Orleans Saints head coach

'At the end of the day, we've got a great game but we have a really tough business, and this is part of the tough business part'


Cutdown day isn't a primary reason that the NFL sometimes is chided as being the "No Fun League," but cutdown day definitely can siphon a chunk of fun off a day.

Tuesday officially is the day that the New Orleans Saints, and every other NFL team, must trim their training camp roster to 53. The Saints began the process Sunday, waiving or reaching injury settlement with seven players. The remaining 74 must be reduced by 21 to reach the regular-season limit.

"This is probably the hardest week of the year, just because I know what these guys put into getting themselves ready to be a football player and play in the National Football League, whether it's here or somewhere," Coach Dennis Allen said. "It's important for a lot of guys and it's challenging and there's a human element to it. But at the end of the day, we've got a great game but we have a really tough business, and this is part of the tough business part.

"I think the biggest thing is you understand you have moves that you have to make, it's part of our league and it's part of the business of pro football. And you have to be able to separate the business and the personal. And none of it's personal. It's just part of the business."

Undrafted rookie linebacker Nephi Sewell is one of the Saints hoping that beyond Tuesday, it will be business as usual for him. Sewell made enough of an impression to take snaps with the first-team defense in the days leading up to the preseason finale against the Chargers last Friday.

"I feel pretty good. Just continuing to learn from (linebackers) Coach (Mike) Hodges and (defensive assistant) Coach (Jordan) Traylor. I feel like it's been a solid preseason, going into OTAs and transitioning into training camp. I felt more and more comfortable every day – live game reps definitely help, kind of slows down everything in terms of my reads and everything."

Sewell said that working with the starters was a confidence boost.

"It grew, definitely. It just showed that I'm making progress, and the coaches see it as well," he said.

The ultimate judgment of progress for Sewell, and others, will be known Tuesday.

"It's always a tough week, because you create bonds with a lot of guys going through training camp, because it's not easy," said defensive back P.J. Williams, who's entering his eighth season with the franchise and owns the Saints seniority in the secondary. "Then about 30, 40 people get released off the team. It's definitely a hard time for a lot of people."

PENNING UPDATE: Allen offered no specificity regarding the foot injury that sidelined rookie left tackle Trevor Penning for the final three quarters of the preseason finale. But Allen did say that Penning suffered a "significant toe injury."

"I think he's doing fine. (But) everybody's got to deal with injuries at times."

DIAL BACK: Allen said that this week, a bit of a bonus week for teams as they prepare for their respective regular-season openers next weekend, will be used partly to regenerate.

"A little bit of it is trying to get our bodies back a little bit," Allen said. "There are still some things we need to work on in terms of just ourselves. As we start to get closer to the end of the week, we'll turn our attention a little bit more to the opener. But we're going to cut back a little bit in terms of the physical activity, ramp up the mental activity a little bit and try to get 'em back."

KATRINA ANNIVERSARY: When Allen was asked to comment on the 17-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, and what impact the Saints have on New Orleans, he offered this: "I came here six months after Katrina, is when I first arrived. And you could still see the devastation in the city. And I was here for the opening of the Superdome. I get chills just thinking about it right now. It was probably one of the most emotional games that I've ever been a part of. I've been in the NFC Championship Game, been in the Super Bowl. That was a special, special game in a special situation. And I think that, to me, shows what this team means to this city. And I don't think you get that anywhere else."

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