Team Report: New Orleans

Quarterback Aaron Brooks is back, and so are many of the fans who got on him late last year when the Saints 2002 season came to a disappointing end.

Brooks, who underwent surgery to re-attach a tendon in his throwing shoulder on Jan. 17 and then spent 18 weeks rehabbing the injury, cranked up his strong right arm and turned it loose for the first time in the Saints' first training camp practice Saturday morning.

In doing so, he delighted a crowd of about 2,500 who turned out at the Saints Training Facility. Brooks made all the throws he needed to make and even threw four deep balls without any problems during the workout.

That impressive performance helped wow some of those same fans who booed him at the end of the 2002 season, which came four weeks after he was injured in the Saints' 23-20 nationally-televised win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Brooks was upbeat following the workout and smiled when he was asked about the deep throws even though each of them -- about 50 yards in length -- failed to find their intended targets.

"I wish we could have connected on one or two of them," Brooks said of the fans' reaction to his throws. "But there's going to be time for that."

Brooks reported no discomfort and no sharp pain in the shoulder like he did last December. If anything, he said, he felt like he had more velocity on his throws.

Saints coach Jim Haslett agreed.

"I thought (the velocity) was back," Haslett said. "I heard a couple of the balls whistle. When you hear the balls whistle, then you know that he has the velocity. I thought he looked good and he had no problems throwing the ball."

Even though he showed no ill effects from the surgery, Brooks will be monitored closely during training camp. But he won't be limited initially in anything he does, unless there are problems.

"They're going to monitor me just because of the situation," Brooks said. "If I feel like there is a problem, I'm sure they're going to want me to back down. But the more throws I make without discomfort, the better it is for me."

And naturally, for the Saints' offense.

"I can do everything I did in last year's camp, I just can't let myself get carried away," Brooks said. "I can do everything that's expected of me without any hesitancy."

CAMP CALENDAR: Camp closes Aug. 21. The Saints will hold their annual Black and Gold Scrimmage on Saturday, Aug. 2 at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette's Cajun Field.


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