Take that, No Fun League!
The NFL may have legislated against Jimmy Graham’s signature dunk after touchdowns, but that’s not going to stop the Saints’ All-Pro tight end from doing it — in the preseason, at least.
After both of his TD catches in the first half Friday, Graham executed the move that harkens back to his basketball-playing days at Miami. On the second one he put a twist on it with a reverse stuff of sorts.
The penalty: 15 yards on the kickoff for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Both of the ensuing kickoffs, one by Thomas Morstead and the other by Derek Dimke, only went to the Titans’ 10 and they were returned to the 38 and 36, respectively.
While obviously a no-no in a game that counts, Graham’s dunks on Friday can be seen as symbolic gestures against what he feels is unfairly legislating against a specific player.
It wasn’t clear if the NFL can or will fine Graham for his indiscretions. Of course, with a new four-year, $40 million contract, Graham can afford it.
Perhaps more important is how Saints coach Sean Payton feels. He didn’t say anything to Graham after the first one, but he did have something to say after the second one.
“Yes, I was (upset),” Payton said. “I’m very upset. Would you be upset? I was, particularly.”
The kicking wars
Neither veteran Shayne Graham nor Dimke did anything to hurt themselves in their battle for the Saints’ kicking job.
Graham made his only field goal attempt, a 34-yarder in the fourth quarter. Dimke had none.
Dimke was 3-3 on extra point attempts and Graham made his only try.
This was the final week that the PAT distance is 32 yards.
A strained oblique did not keep Saints quarterback Drew Brees from warming up in full pads the last two days of training camp at The Greenbrier last week.
But he still sat out Friday night, not even suiting up as Luke McCown, Ryan Griffin and Logan Kilgore split duties for the second straight week.
With starters usually not playing in the final exhibition game, that leaves only next week’s game at Indianapolis for Brees to get any significant work.
Wide receiver Marques Colston was the biggest surprise among those not playing Friday. He had not appeared injured during training camp and Saints officials had no comment on Colton’s absence.
Also sitting out Friday were cornerbacks Champ Bailey, Rod Sweeting and Patrick Robinson, guards Jahri Evans and Ben Grubbs, wide receiver Kenny Stills, safety Jarius Byrd, linebacker David Hawthorne, tight end Je’Ron Hamm, linebacker Victor Butler, fullback Erik Lorig, nose tackle John Jenkins and tackle Ty Nsekhe.
Grubbs and Jenkins had returned to practicing late this week.
If the sight of Mark Ingram catching a touchdown pass looked strange, it was. In his first three seasons in the league, Ingram did not have a TD reception, and the longest of his 24 catches was 23 yards, which was also the distance of his TD catch on Friday. Ingram did have four TD receptions in college.
Former LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger, now a rookie with Tennessee and the Titans’ No. 3 quarterback, probably wasn’t going to play until the fourth quarter Friday.
But when backup Charlie Whitehurst went down with a shoulder injury after being sacked by Kenny Vaccaro late in the second quarter, Mettenberger, Tennessee’s sixth-round draft pick, was pressed into immediate service.
Mettenberger was impressive from the start as he completed four straight passes, the last a 64-yarder to Justin Hunter for a TD that put the Titans ahead 17-14.
He would finish 20-of-25 for 270 yards and another TD with 10 seconds remaining.
Back to work
The team will practice for the first time at their Metairie facility at 4 p.m. Sunday, It is open to the public.
It’s the first of seven open practices, including one at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Mandeville High School. Others available for public viewing are Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, all starting at 8:50 a.m.; Aug. 25 at 4 p.m.; and Aug. 26 at 8:50 a.m.
The Saints will play at Indianapolis on Aug. 24. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. and the game will be televised nationally on CBS. The Titans will play at Atlanta on the same date.
“This is the first sign of a team with no discipline. And that’s the first sign of a team with poor coaching.”
— Saints coach Sean Payton on the penalties.