New Orleans Saints left guard Ben Grubbs enjoyed his first five NFL seasons in Baltimore, but not so much the steamed blue crabs.
The city is known for its crab houses, fueled by the waters of the Chesapeake Bay and thousands of mallets.
Grubbs wasn’t impressed.
“When I first got there (in 2007), (Ravens right guard) Marshal Yanda was my roommate. And of course, we had to try out the crabs, the whole crabs,” Grubbs remembered on Wednesday afternoon, in between preparation for Monday night’s Saints (4-6) game against the Ravens (6-4) at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
How were they?
“It was a terrible experience,” he said. “It took us forever to get into it. It wasn’t fulfilling either.”
So I guess Yanda won’t need to bring you any on the flight from Baltimore …
“I just stuck with the King crab legs, which has a lot more meat inside. For us big guys, that’s probably what we’ll go for.”
Grubbs has not tried soft-shelled crab po-boys, a fairly-recent craze to New Orleans. Who knows — it might be meaty enough for Grubbs’ liking.
So it comes as no surprise that the Big Easy is at the top of Grubbs’ list of seafood destinations, as opposed to Baltimore.
“I think New Orleans has one-up on Baltimore,” said Grubbs, who hails from Columbus, Georgia, and attended college at Auburn.
Still, his neighbors might need to back off the Zatarain’s a tad the next time they invite him to a New Orleans-style crab boil.
“It was really spicy, man,” he said. “Good God!”
Special teams help
Newly signed rookie Jalen Saunders is not expected to replace first-round pick Brandin Cooks on offense.
Saunders is expected to get a shot at replacing Cooks on punt returns.
“They told me he’s on IR (with a fractured thumb), and they need me to fill in that role,” Saunders said, who was signed earlier this week. “So I’m going to do my best to do that.”
Cooks (53 catches, 550 yards, three TDs) averaged 3.5 yards on 10 punt returns with a long of 15 yards.
Saunders was signed off Seattle’s practice squad.
By coincidence, Saunders and Cooks grew up in Stockton, California, competing against each other from Pop Warner to football and track in high school.
Old friend, new opponent
Former Saints defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo (2012) is preparing to face many of his former players for the first time during the regular season since coaching in New Orleans.
Spagnuolo serves as secondary/assistant head coach for the Ravens.
Saints middle linebacker Curtis Lofton said he does, and has continued to wish his former coordinator well during his NFL career.
“Coach Spags, I enjoyed coach Spags. Never had any problems with him,” Lofton said. “It didn’t work out for him here, and it’s working out for him there. I wish him the best of luck and continued success, but not against us.”
Under Spagnuolo, the Saints defense set a then record for futility, allowing 440.1 yards per game.
Saints coach Sean Payton was suspended for most of the 2012 season. When Payton was reinstated by the league, one of his first moves was to fire Spagnuolo.
In September, the Saints ended the 2014 preseason against Baltimore. After the game, Spagnuolo, in an exclusive interview with the New Orleans Advocate, said of his one-season experience with the Saints: “There was a learning process being here, yeah, but there was a lot to gain, and I’m grateful for that. Look, I’m a blessed man. I’ve been able to still be in this league. I’ve had a lot of really good things happen to me in this league, and one of the good things is I came to New Orleans.”
This season’s Saints defense under Rob Ryan, Spagnuolo’s replacement, is allowing 369.9 yards per game.
No friend zone
Don’t be surprised if Saints cornerback Keenan Lewis deletes a football peer off his social media friend’s list this week.
Asked Wednesday about fellow New Orleanian Jacoby Jones, a graduate of Abramson High School in eastern New Orleans (closed after Hurricane Katrina), Lewis, known for his friendly personality, tried to not look so friendly.
“I definitely know him; we’re not friends this week,” Lewis said. “If he says ‘hi’ or something, I’ll probably ignore him or keep it pushing.”
Jones, now in his eighth NFL season, has four catches this season for 50 yards. Jones has not caught a pass since Oct. 5
His bigger impact is on special teams where he’s averaging 31.7 yards on kickoff returns with one score and 8.2 yards on punt returns.
Jones, who finished Super Bowl XLVII at the Superdome with a record 290 combined yards (56 receiving yards, 234 return yards), was also a third-place finisher on Season 16 of Dancing With The Stars.
Saints cornerback Patrick Robinson has been named the franchise’s winner of the Ed Block Courage Award, given annually to a player that has persevered through adversity.
Robinson, a fifth-year pro, suffered two major knee injuries in 2013, including a ruptured patellar tendon for the second time during a Week 2 win at Tampa Bay.
Ten months later, he returned to the Saints in time for training camp, and is now a vital part of the defense. This season, Robinson has notched 20 tackles with one interception.
Injuries of note
Not practicing Wednesday for the Saints: Lewis (knee), RB Travaris Cadet (hamstring), MLB Curtis Lofton (ankle), RB Khiry Robinson (forearm) and LB Kyle Knox (hand).
Lewis is hopeful an extra day of rest — playing Monday, instead of Sunday — will lead to a better chance to play against Baltimore. One week earlier against Cincinnati, Lewis took part in just 10 of 61 defensive snaps.
He hurt his knee two weeks ago against San Francisco.
“It’s definitely going to help,” Lewis said, “Any time I get more treatment.”
Also for the Saints, RB Pierre Thomas (rib/shoulder) and WR Robert Meachem (ankle) were limited.
For Baltimore, WR Michael Campanaro (thigh), TE Owen Daniels (non-injury related), G Jah Reid (hand),
LB Daryl Smith (non-injury related) did not practice, while Yanda (knee) was limited.