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    <span style="">                 <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><span style="">SHARPER CREDITS SUCCESS AGAINST LIONS TO OPPORTUNITIES</span></span>  

FS Darren Sharper, an addition by the Saints in the offseason as an unrestricted free agent, spent the first 12 seasons of his career in the NFC North, first as a member of the Green Bay Packers (1997-2004) and then four seasons with the Minnesota Vikings (2005-2008). The NFL's leading active interception leader (54) owns the distinction of having the most thefts in his career against the Saints' opponent this week, the Detroit Lions.

Said Sharper of his success against the Lions, "I suppose it's strictly a result of having played against them so many times and getting the opportunities," he said. "I don't go out of my way to try to do anything differently against them. It's just knowing the assignments and trying to be in the right place at the right time to make a play on the ball."

Saints OLB Scott Shanle, a player who lets his actions do his talking for him, was second on the team in tackles last season with 145 stops according to the coaching film. Thus when he offers praise for a player, it's usually something worth jotting down.

Today Shanle said that he was very impressed with the play of Lions second-year running back Kevin Smith. "I don't know if too many people know about him, but he certainly has our respect," Shanle said. "He's very athletic and runs exceptionally hard. He's a back with some good size and speed and he never has to come out of the game because he's a very good receiver out of the backfield. They have a good one in him and I'm sure they know it and we will see a lot of him this Sunday. We (Saints defenders) know who he is and what he can do."

DE Anthony Hargrove has been exceptionally forthcoming this summer regarding his battle back from past indiscretions that have led to multiple suspensions by the NFL for off-the-field violations. Hargrove, who admits that he is an active member in self-help groups and counseling, has adopted a very keen approach on taking things one day at a time. The enthusiastic Georgia Tech product mentioned today that while he admits to looking forward to Sunday and the beginning of the regular season, right now his focus is on today, and trying to work his way into the regular defensive line rotation.

"I'm blessed to even be sitting here thinking about playing this weekend and I realize that," Hargrove said. "It's great being in this locker room, out on the practice field and starting to feel the excitement build. But at the same time I have to focus on getting better, earning playing time and being accountable for the things that will help us be successful. I never want to start taking things for granted and getting too far ahead of myself."

WR Lance Moore hardly batted an eye when informed that the Lions have nine new players out of ten in their defensive backfield. "Most of the guys that are in those personnel grouping are veteran players that are proven players," he said. "They know what they're doing and while they may not have played a regular season together yet, don't let that fool you. The reality is that they have been together all off-season and throughout training camp and the preseason, which tells you they have had plenty of time to get on the same page. We have to study a little more film on them from when they were in previous spots, but that's something we generally do anyway."

FB Pierre Thomas/Heath Evans.aspx">Heath Evans, another offseason addition, said that although he has played in the two preseason games at the Superdome, his teammates have assured him that he hasn't seen anything yet. "I have heard a few guys say, 'Just wait,'" Evans said.

"I remember coming down to LSU and remember how difficult it was to play there when I was at Auburn, and guys here tell me it reminds them very much of a big-time college game with all the noise and excitement. I've been told that our fans can really crank it up when our defense is on the field and when the offense does something special. So, yeah, that has me pretty pumped up. I'm excited to experience it."

CB Tracy Porter, who was enjoying a big rookie season in 2008 before his season was cut short with a broken wrist, is admittedly excited to be getting back on the playing field for a regular season game. "I think back to all the work in the offseason and putting the time in to getting 100% healthy and getting ready for this," Porter said.

The native of Port Allen, La., roughly an hour away from New Orleans, said that his return to the playing field is shared amongst his family and close friends. "I had to somehow come up with 16 tickets for Sunday," Porter said. "My mom, my daughter, my aunts, uncles, childhood friends, you name it and they will be there."


New Orleans Saints
Did Not Participate in Practice: T Scott Shanle/Jammal Brown.aspx">Jammal Brown (hernia), TE Darnell Dinkins (foot), RB Pierre Thomas (knee)
Full Participation in Practice: S Usama Young (shoulder)

Detroit Lions
Did Not Participate in Practice: QB Drew Stanton (knee), Grady Jackson (knee), G Stephen Peterman (ankle).
Limited Participation in Practice: CB Phillip Buchanon (neck), K Jason Hanson (knee), DE Jason Hunter (ribs), WR Dennis Northcutt (hand), WR Yamon Figurs (finger).
Full Participation in Practice: TE Casey Fitzsimmons (knee), CB Anthony Henry (shoulder)

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