<span style="">Sedrick Ellis built a reputation in college for his lightning quickness and thunderous hits on opposing players. The positive kind of lightning and thunder, at least in football terms.
Apparently, on his first official day as a New Orleans Saint, he decided to bring those exact same attributes to the team's training camp. Only this time it actually was lightning and thunder that delayed the start of the team's lone practice of the day by about an hour.
Ellis, though, decked out in his #98 jersey, took to the practice field about 15 minutes before the start of practice and good naturedly shook hands with his position coach, Ed Orgeron, and playfully kidded with the other defensive linemen. Head Coach Sean Payton walked over and spoke with Ellis for a few moments.
"He just welcomed me and said it's time to get to work and that he was glad I am here," Ellis said following practice.
Underneath his black jersey he wore a long sleeved grey t-shirt that quickly transitioned to a darker hue after some time in the humid conditions.
"It's going to take me a few days to get used to the heat and humidity," Ellis said, despite the fact that he has been working out twice a day in Tampa Bay for the past 10 days. "There is no way to prepare for playing football in this heat. But at the end of the day, I felt there were some positive things that I was able to do out there today."
After missing the first six days of training camp due to an impasse in contract talks, Ellis and his representation and the Saints agreed to terms on a five-year contract last evening, thus paving the way for the seventh overall selection in the 2008 Draft and the second defensive tackle selected overall, to join his new team.
"The nice thing about this team is that the veteran players are very helpful," Ellis said. "There were some funny lines from some of the older guys, the type of stuff I expected. But once we got to playing, they were all helpful and the things I learned during mini-camps and OTA's came back to me quickly."
Ellis joined in with the second team defensive unit during the walk-through period, while the first team defensive tackles were incumbents Brian Young and Hollis Thomas. Head Coach Sean Payton, however, is known to favor rotations for quite a few of the positions on the team and Ellis could quickly earn a spot in the defensive tackle rotation, if in fact his conditioning can hold up to the searing Jackson heat.
Of course logic would hold that the Saints are expecting immediate contributions from the Southern Cal defender but on his first day of action he was treated just like any other player.
"I feel behind, no doubt about it," Ellis remarked. "I am going to have to put in the extra work and that won't be a problem or an issue. I understand what it takes and Coach Orgeron has said he'll work me to get me caught up."
From the head coach's perspective the missed practice sessions were troubling, but the fact remains that Ellis is now part of the team and expected to make a contribution. And, if there is good new, conventional wisdom would suggest that a defensive tackle could adapt quicker to a pro system than a quarterback or running back might be able to.
"It's lining up and knowing what your teammates are doing and beating the man or men in front of you," Ellis said of his job description. "It's about technique, effort and desire."
Thus since the agreement and actual reporting of Ellis early this morning, the hard feelings have been forgotten and the order of the day was getting back to football.
"I had a 6 a.m. flight this morning from Tampa to Jackson and it's been non-stop ever since," Ellis said. "I am ready for a nap, but I don't think Coach Orgeron has that set up for me anytime soon."
He can bank on that.