Clancy still 'plugging along' in NFL

JACKSON - Kendrick Clancy tries to keep everything in perspective. That approach seems to have benefitted the former Ole Miss defensive standout now with the New Orleans Saints as his career moves on.

"Just out here competing again," said the veteran defensive tackle entering his ninth NFL season after finishing up his playing time with the Rebels in 1999. "I thank God for the opportunity."

Clancy, who turns 30 later this summer, said that while he believes he has several more years of football left in him, he could look back even now and feel good about his career.

"It's a grind and will continue to be one as long as I'm out here," said the Tuscaloosa, Ala., native, after a hot and grueling practice Wednesday at the Saints' preseason camp at Millsaps College. "I'm just thankful every day for the opportunity to keep plugging away. I'm just trying to make every second and every moment count."

Clancy, who played for two years at East Central Community College in Decatur before arriving at Ole Miss, went to two bowl games during his time in Oxford. He played one year under Tommy Tuberville and one year for David Cutcliffe.

The 6-foot-1, 305-pounder played with Pittsburgh for five seasons, then was with the Giants and Cardinals the next two years. The former All-SEC first-team selection and third-team All-American (The Sporting News, Football News) is in his second season with the Saints. Last season he made a lot of those moments count, although his team didn't achieve as much as had been predicted.

Coming off an NFC title game appearance in 2006, New Orleans lost its first four games in 2007 and never fully recovered, finishing 7-9. Clancy likes what he sees this time around and believes his team and its defense are improved.

"With some key additions, they've brought in some impact players," he said. "It's just a matter of time and getting the chemistry right. I think we could be a lot better than we were last year."

Clancy's got a new position coach this year. It's one he's familiar with. Ed Orgeron joined the Saints staff after being fired at Ole Miss last November.

"He's real intense, a real intense guy, a hell of a coach," said Clancy, grinning, already having experienced Orgeron first-hand in training camp for nearly a week. "He loves the game."

Clancy, who lives in Oxford and has for several years, said he talked to Orgeron a handful of times the past few years.

"Now he's my coach," Clancy said. "That's the way the game goes. You just never know how things might turn out."

Clancy welcomed one of the Saints prized rookies to camp Wednesday. Sedrick Ellis, the former Southern Cal defensive star, suited up in black and gold for the first time. Talk about irony. Ellis was recruited to USC by Orgeron and played for him early in his college career.

On Wednesday, Orgeron was coaching while Clancy, Ellis and others were working together in drills to get the rookie started on his professional career.

"He's got skills," Clancy said of his new teammate. "It's like he's already got a couple of years in the league. He has the chance to be a great player, one of the best defensive linemen in this league. It depends on his work ethic, and from the look of things he has excellent work ethic."

Clancy's work ethic has never been called into question. He's put in hours and days and years to become a successful journeyman in the NFL. He's found a fourth home in the league with the Saints, and he hopes it will continue.

"God's been good to me," Clancy said. "If I don't even play again, I can walk away and say it's been a nice run. I've got a wife and five kids and another on the way. What more can a man ask for? I'm still having fun playing football."

And does he still feel young?

"The kids make me feel old," he said, laughing again.

Clancy, recruited to West Alabama out of high school by current UM defensive line coach Tracy Rocker, believes the Rebels will go places under Houston Nutt.

"They were tough teams. They had great linemen," he said of Arkansas. "He's a great coach. They've gone to a lot of big bowl games. Seems like they were in the running for a national title back when I played against them. If (Clint) Stoerner doesn't drop that ball against Tennessee, they might win it all."

Clancy, who has played in 94 games with 32 starts in his eight NFL seasons, hopes to be one of the guys who can continue to make a difference for his team.

"But I don't make those decisions. I just work here," he said as media members and Clancy all chuckled a bit.

He left us with a couple of parting thoughts before heading back to the field house at Millsaps.

"I hear we're going to be good," he said of the 2008 Rebels. "I heard big (Jerrell) Powe got in. That's great news."

Clancy is hoping he and the Saints make some of the headlines, too, with most publications and polls predicting an NFC South Division title this season for the team from the Crescent City.

"We can't worry about all that or what people say," he said. "We'll just go out and play and let the chips fall where they may."

Much like the way Kendrick Clancy has handled everything in life and continues to do so successfully.

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