So far, so good for McCray’s second chance
Whatever anger, disenchantment or betrayal consumed Bobby McCray
when he was unexpectedly and unceremoniously released by the Saints
in June, the veteran defensive end kept it mostly to himself.
”If you let your emotions out, the majority of the time it can
hurt you,” said McCray, who wound up re-signing with New Orleans a
week before training camp opened.
”So if you got something (upsetting) going on, just try to keep
it inside, don’t let everybody know. Go in the bathroom and punch a
hole in the wall and scream and curse and come back out and move
McCray’s decision to keep any hard feelings private and maintain
a constructive relationship with the Saints paid off. Not only is
the quick, 6-foot-6 pass rusher back with the defending Super Bowl
champions, he is also sharing first-team practice snaps at left end
with Alex Brown.
”There’s nothing but great things going on at that left end
position because of the competition that’s going on,” defensive
line coach Bill Johnson said. ”Alex Brown’s done a good job.
Bobby’s done a good job. And we’ve got about three weeks here to do
a lot of evaluation to see how this thing comes out. But however it
turns out, we’re going to have some depth and be better on our
defensive line than we were this time last year.”
In 2009, Charles Grant was the starter at left end, opposite
Will Smith on the right side, with McCray rotating in, often in
passing situations. Grant, however, injured his triceps in Week 17
and missed the playoffs.
McCray, who had appeared in every Saints regular season game the
past two years, started all three of New Orleans’ playoff games.
During the first of those starts, he made his mark on the
postseason with a crushing block on Arizona quarterback Kurt Warner
during an interception return.
When Grant was released last winter, McCray’s spot on the roster
only seemed more secure. Then the Saints went on the free-agent
market and signed Brown, a former Chicago Bears starter, and Jimmy
Wilkerson, a former Tampa Bay lineman who plays end and tackle.
During offseason training sessions and minicamp, McCray
continued to work with the first team, and hardly expected to find
himself unemployed five weeks before training camp.
”It definitely came out of the blue,” McCray said.
Saints general manager Mickey Loomis said the decision to waive
McCray was not a negotiating ploy to get him to take less money. He
said the Saints initially intended to move on without him.
McCray, however, preferred not to move on with his career
outside of New Orleans, and made that clear in calls to coaches and
the front office.
”We talked,” Johnson said. ”There wasn’t much to say except,
‘Let’s see how it plays out.’ And everything that was said to me
was with a positive attitude.”
Brown, a friend and former college teammate at Florida, said
McCray is ”not a very vengeful person.”
”He’s a professional and he understands the business side of
it,” Brown said. ”Look at our competition. We’re friends, but we
understand when we come out here between the lines, we’ve got to
compete. So it’s not a big deal.”
Now it’s up to McCray to validate the Saints’ decision to let
him come back and help defend their title.
When practice ended on a hot Friday morning, McCray was among
the last players to head for the locker room, choosing instead to
stay on the field and work one-on-one with assistant defensive line
coach Travis Jones.
McCray said he won’t take his second chance for granted, and
relishes the opportunity to again be teammates with his old friend
”I’m very happy,” McCray said. ”I got my teammate that I’ve
had since 1999 in Florida. Me and him got some great things that we
can do together. With Will Smith and our tandem, we’ve got a great
ability to create some havoc this year.”
Notes: The Saints added veteran WR Mark Bradley to the roster
and waived WR Matt Simon. … CB Tracy Porter returned to action
after missing two practices with back spasms, while CB Patrick
Robinson (hamstring) and LB Scott Shanle (strained left knee) sat
out. … New Hornets coach Monty Williams and Hornets president
Hugh Weber were special guests at Friday’s morning practice.
Williams caught a few quick passes launched from a machine, similar
to a drill receivers and defensive backs run. … The Saints on
Saturday will hold a scrimmage at 11 a.m. Central time that is open
to the public. Coach Sean Payton said all four quarterbacks – Drew
Brees, Patrick Ramsey, Chase Daniel and rookie Sean Canfield – are
expected to play.