Deuuuuuce - Saints RB Ready for 2008

JACKSON – Not much good can come from multiple ACL injuries, but Deuce McAllister found one positive after tweaking his knee last week.

Forced to the sidelines on the morning of July 26th with pain and swelling in his surgically repaired left knee, McAllister was anxious to see the results of the MRI, but the wait time wasn't as tense as one would expect for the running back that missed 13 games last season due to the same knee being hurt.

McAllister has experienced ACL injuries before, and what was occurring wasn't the same thing.

"Unfortunately I have been through ACL injuries, and I knew it wasn't that," McAllister said. "It was a mini scare I guess, but it is doing well now."

The prediction was correct, as the MRI revealed no structural damage. However, the Saints are staying cautious by having McAllister participate in only one practice per day and avoid full contact. Practicing on turf is also not allowed due to the surface possibly causing his knee to swell.

After two season-ending knee surgeries in the past three years (2005 and 2007), McAllister understands the unrushed timetable and is eager to duplicate 2006 when he ran for 1,057 yards and the Saints advanced to the NFC Championship Game.

McAllister has eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark in all four seasons that he has remained healthy or received a significant number of carries. The Morton native totaled just 16 rushes in his rookie season of 2001.

"I'm taking it slow, but it feels good when I do come out for practice," the former All-SEC standout said. "I'm getting the rust off. As for the looks in the offense and everything I know all that. It is all about getting the rust off. I take the same reps as everybody else when I am out there."

Described by the Saints as a team-first player, McAllister is looking forward to helping New Orleans achieve its goals. Missing most of last season hurt even more considering he knew his presence could have been a difference-maker.

"I need to stay healthy. That was the most disappointing part about last season. I knew I could help them, and I knew we had the talent to make the playoffs."

With the offseason acquisition of Jonathan Vilma and the drafting of Sedrick Ellis, the Saints have improved their defense dramatically and are being predicted to win the NFC South. The addition of Jeremy Shockey will bolster an already dangerous attack, so New Orleans is ready for the season opener against Tampa Bay.

"We have the potential to be a very competitive team," McAllister said. "Obviously we can't get bit by the injury bug. The defense is going to step up and make some plays that we haven't necessarily made in the past. That makes it easier on the offense. We still have to do our part, but on paper, this is a top-5 offense.

"I'm proud for Eli (Manning), but we are coming after them."

Deuce excited about Houston Nutt

After discussing his current team, McAllister was also eager to talk about the Rebels and their new coach.

"He is a proven," McAllister said of Nutt. "He has been through the wars. Those guys want to win. It is one of the reasons Mike (Oher) came back. To go through and experience a winning season, get to a bowl game."

But while Ole Miss is looking to get back in the bowl picture, McAllister warned that the season is a marathon. The way to success is to keep working.

"I would tell them it isn't going to be easy. When they hit that first bump in the road, don't put their heads down. The sky won't be falling, and the world won't be ending. You have to stay together, keep fighting, and you need one break. Not every break, just one break."

McAllister laughed when reminded about the famous kickoff return for a touchdown against Nutt's Arkansas team to open the game in 1999, but he also remembered Nutt coming out on top a fair share of the time as well.

"That (kickoff return) was a big moment, but I remember going up to Arkansas and getting scalded too. That was always a friendly rivalry, but hopefully we can get the better of them now."

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