Two days before the season opener, the New Orleans Saints hope to have found their long snapper in Zach Wood.
Wood, who mainly played defensive line in college at Southern Methodist, was in training camp with the Cowboys and said he was released by Dallas on Aug. 31. The position became one that the Saints needed to fill after the team learned that Jon Dorenbos, who had been acquired in a traded with Philadelphia, has an aortic aneurysm which will require career-ending heart surgery.
Wood becomes the sixth player to play the position for the Saints since the end of last season.
"I try not to think much of (the short time for preparation)," Wood said. "In my position, you can't get too emotional about any of this stuff. So, I'll just go out there. I've practiced enough, I've had enough reps, I've just got to go out there and do what I do."
Saints Coach Sean Payton said the team auditioned four or five long snappers Friday and that Wood had the experience and execution advantage over his peers.
"There's enough game snaps in the preseason that we saw," Payton said. "Of course, we had a good grade on him prior and know the folks in Dallas pretty well.
"A lot of the (tryout) group was younger and there was one experienced player. I felt like it was a similar decision we made when we brought in (Justin) Drescher (the team's long snapper from 2010-16) and some older players.
"(Wood) has played defense and had a good workout."
Payton said that during the offseason, Wood dropped weight and focused strictly on being a long snapper.
"In college, I played mostly defensive line and I snapped on the side and didn't think much of it," Wood said. "I got a shot with the Cowboys and did it, so last year was when I really started taking it seriously. Any chance I got, I was snapping every day, all day, so I can perfect this because this is what I really wanted to do."
DORENBOS UPDATE: Payton said he saw Dorenbos at the Saints practice facility Friday, and that Dorenbos now is attempting to pursue the best course of action for his surgery. Payton didn't' know a timeframe for the procedure, but estimated it would be within 10 days.
"I know that he, along with our medical department, were reaching out and researching really across the country," Payton said. "I know that he was narrowing the list down of doctors he wanted to visit with.
"Credit (team physician Dr.) John Amoss, because there are murmurs that are ones that aren't as alarming and players and people play with. John heard that in his exam. There are two types and without getting into specifics, John felt like he wanted more follow-up work just in the event it was the second type. And sure enough, he was right. I'm thankful that that happened.
"I'm sure (Dorenbos) is anxious to get on with the procedure and get it going."