When Dannell Ellerbe found out that he was going to be traded from the Miami Dolphins to New Orleans, he couldn’t hide his excitement.
“I was happy,” the linebacker said. “Wherever I could play for people who want me and play for a guy like (defensive coordinator) Rob (Ryan). ... I knew a couple guys on the team, how they played, everything like that. Playing in the (Mercedes-Benz Superdome), the dome always sold out, so I was happy for that.”
Ellerbe said he didn’t necessarily feel unwanted in Miami, but noted the team traded him away, and feels some frustration about his time there. After emerging as a star linebacker during his four seasons in Baltimore to start his career, Ellerbe signed a five-year, $34.75 million deal to join the Dolphins.
He never lived up to the hype. Playing middle linebacker during his first season in Miami after playing on the weak side in Baltimore, Ellerbe struggled through his first season. He moved back to the weak side last season, but suffered a hip injury in September and landed on injured reserve.
Ellerbe never received a shot at redemption in Miami after being traded to the Saints this offseason along with a third-round pick in exchange for wide receiver Kenny Stills.
The 29-year-old is still managing his injury, which is an ongoing process, but he said he will be fully healthy by Week 1. He also said that a move back to weakside linebacker, where he’s projected to play, will help him succeed with the Saints.
“I played Will six out of the seven years I’ve been in the league,” Ellerbe said. “I know the more I play Mike I’ll become comfortable at that.”
Most of all, though, Ellerbe said he is glad to be in New Orleans.
“It’s always good when you have someone that’s there for you and really wants you on their team,” he said.
Galette gets good news
The Saints are hopeful that outside linebacker Junior Galette will return for training camp, coach Sean Payton said.
Galette, who suffered a pectoral injury last week, was reportedly told the injury could be rehabbed through rest and rehabilitation this week.
“We’re optimistic,” Payton said. “I think all along we’ve kind of just been wanting to make sure there were enough eyes on him, kind of do the best thing as we approach this break.”
The news that Galette should be able to avoid surgery offers a sigh of relief. If Galette had undergone surgery, he might have been forced to start the season on the physically-unable-to-perform list, which would force him to miss the first six games of the season.
Despite all the edge rushers the Saints brought in both through the draft and free agency, the loss of Galette would be significant. Galette, who has 22 sacks over the past two seasons, remains the Saints’ best speed rusher off the edge.
Now, New Orleans is hopeful Galette will be back at some point during training camp.
“We’ll see,” Payton said. “But I think that’s the plan.”
Kicking it up
Dustin Hopkins and Zach Hocker are getting a few tips from an experienced old hand during this week’s mandatory minicamp.
Former Saints kicker John Carney, who was in New Orleans from 2001-2006 and again in 2009, is back in town to work with the Saints’ two young kickers heading into the offseason.
“He’s spending just three days here, just kind of working with these young guys,” Payton said. “He’s kind of been close to the program and stayed involved. He’s got a training facility in San Diego, and that keeps him busy.”
Carney, who spent 21 years in the NFL as a place-kicker, has worked with the Saints as a consultant before.
During the 2009 Super Bowl run, Carney was hired as a kicking consultant shortly after he lost the kicking job to Garrett Hartley, and he remained in that spot through the end of the season.
Galette, offensive lineman Cyril Lemon, and defensive lineman Glenn Foster did not take part in practice. Wide receivers Marques Colston and Lance Lewis along with defensive linemen Akiem Hicks and Brodrick Bunkley were observers. Rookie linebacker Davis Tull worked out off to the side. Safety Kenny Vaccaro left the session early. ... Payton said he’s hopeful Tull will be ready for training camp. ... Rookie cornerback Delvin Breaux received some work with the first-team defense as the slot cornerback. He previously worked exclusively on the outside during organized team activities.