Saints backup quarterback situation remains in doubt
METAIRIE, La. -- The final preseason game on Thursday night in Kansas City could decide who backs up Drew Brees at quarterback.
Jamie Martin, entering his 14th season in the league, was the apparent second-string signal caller coming into training camp. But coach Sean Payton has been impressed with the play of Todd Bouman, who threw impressive touchdown passes both in the Saints scrimmage and opening preseason game.
Both reserve quarterbacks are expected to play extensively after Brees and most of the first-stringers are pulled early in the game, Payton said.
"Todd, it seems like, has done a good job functioning in that role," Payton said. "You have a functional two and functional three in no specific order yet, but guys who have had pretty good camps."
Bouman is entering his 10th season in the league. He spent his first six in Minnesota and the past three in New Orleans backing up Aaron Brooks.
"I'm of the belief there's room still to develop Todd Bouman, there's room still to work with Jamie," Payton said. "I've been impressed with what Todd's done, so I'm anxious to work with him more. We're always in the quarterback business now. That's something we want to invest in and I think there's a lot to be gained from doing that."
^THE PRESIDENT:@ The president met "the president" at Louis Armstrong International Airport on Tuesday. President George W. Bush, on his way out of town after a day of events coinciding with the first anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, met with New Orleans Saints players in the shadow of Air Force One.
The Saints wore their white game jerseys, and among them was rookie sensation Reggie Bush, whose nicknames include "the president," because he shares the same last name as the nation's current commander in chief.
Also present were Saints owner Tom Benson, top executive Rita Benson, coaches and several other leading members of the front office.
The Saints' return to the Superdome on Sept. 25 for a Monday night game against the Atlanta Falcons is seen as symbolic of the New Orleans area's recovery.
^NEW LINEBACKER:@ Linebacker Mark Simoneau arrived at Saints headquarters Tuesday, the day after Philadelphia traded him to New Orleans for Donte' Stallworth. However, he did not show up in time to practice.
Payton said he expects Simoneau to compete for playing time at both middle and weak side linebacker in the Saints' 4-3 defense (four down linemen and three linebackers).
The coach also continued to defend the trade.
"I didn't see enough from Donte'," Payton said. "The bottom line is this: I'm wishing him well, but I've got to go by just all the practice work. That's where I'm evaluating."
Stallworth, coming off of arthroscopic shoulder surgery in January, missed offseason work at headquarters. He also spent part of training camp out of practice as he nursed a sore hamstring.
Payton said the effort and performance of some of the newer, younger receivers played a role in Stallworth's departure.
"They've come along and they've played better than some other players, so that's why the decision was made," Payton said.
^NOT PLAYING:@ Receiver Joe Horn, who bruised his back against Indianapolis on Saturday night, has not practiced the past two days and is not expected to play Thursday night.
Veteran offensive guard Jermane Mayberry continues to practice after returning from a sore shoulder last week, but is not likely to play, either, meaning he will have missed all four preseason games.
"I'm excited about the fact that he's practicing more," Payton said. "It will be hard for me to say right now that we're going to put him in the thick of things and risk a setback."
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
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