Deuce comes 'home'

After a long rehab on a knee he injured in October of 2005, New Orleans Saints Running Back Deuce McAllister couldn't have picked a better place to enjoy his comeback than in a preseason game in Jackson, MS, a town that means a lot to the Ole Miss Rebel great.

His team didn¹t win, but Deuce McAllister didn¹t let that ruin his return to his home state Saturday night in Jackson when the New Orleans Saints took on Peyton Manning's Indianapolis Colts.

McAllister ran for 62 yards on just six carries, showing no signs of the knee injury that ruined his 2005 season.

A crowd of 58,228 marked the biggest crowd at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium since a guy named Steve McNair played his last game there in 1995.

McAllister was well on his way to a fourth consecutive 1,000-yard season when he suffered a torn ACL Oct. 9 of last season. Saturday night, the former Ole Miss star saw his most extensive playing time since the injury.

"I'm confident in my knee," Deuce said less than an hour after running over a safety on his way to a touchdown. "It was special for me to get that touchdown in this stadium."

McAllister, who grew up about 35 miles away from Jackson in Lena, had never played a game before in the Jackson stadium where he used to attend games as a child.

"I was very encouraged, he ran hard and played with emotion," Saints' head coach Sean Payton said of McAllister Saturday. "These last two weeks, I feel like he's leaped the final hurdle of his rehab, he's ready."

Deuce did appear to be ready, and then some, in his first game in Mississippi since the 2000 Egg Bowl, when he left an impression on Mississippi football fans that few could forget. McAllister scored four touchdowns in the Rebels' 45-30 victory over Mississippi State in that Egg Bowl victory.

"Any time you get to play in front of people from your home state you know you have to step up," McAllister said after the game. "Obviously those hometown fans show you more love, but they expect more of you also."

The people of Jackson have grown accustomed to expecting a lot from McAllister, who has done more than any other athlete in any sport for the city. Deuce, whose mother attended Jackson State, is a partner in the plan to renovate and save the King Edward Hotel, which is one of the state¹s top endangered historic sites.

McAllister also has opened several businesses of his own, including a trucking company and several new and used car dealerships around the Jackson-metro area. Last year, he helped bring the Saints' Black and Gold Scrimmage to Jackson.

McAllister has also given back to his alma mater, donating $1 million to the IPF building when he was still in the first year of his contract. He has given time and resources to several other causes. In 2004, he toured military bases, trying to lift the spirits of soldiers and their families during the war in Iraq.

"I'm just glad that the NFL showed the grit and had the good nature to hold one of these preseason games in Jackson," Deuce said when asked about playing in a city that means so much to him. "Hopefully we can do it again next year."

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