Senior Bowl: Payton, Saints Look for Help

After a first full day of practice, the news flying around the Senior Bowl has been almost as furious as the hitting that took place this afternoon. Here are some additional notes on what's gone on today as well as a big fracas taking place over the NFL combine.

Make no mistake, the New Orleans Saints under the direction of newly hired head coach Sean Payton will take on a new look in the 2006 season. Payton, regarded as an offensive minded coach has a significant challenge facing him.

With questions surrounding the overall play of the defense, the cornerback position is an area of need for the Saints.

Scouts on hand are still scratching their heads as to why Penn State cornerback Alan Zemaitis was a last minute no-show. Based on the play of college teammate Anwar Phillips and Clemson's Tye Hill today, it was a definite mistake.

Another player rumored to be injured is Minnesota center Greg Eslinger. Originally slated to play in this contest, Eslinger pulled himself from the game. Sources from the Shrine Game on hand here in Mobile have told us Eslinger also pulled himself from that all-star contest last week.

With starting center LeCharles Bentley entering free agency, the Saints could be left in a precarious situation if the dominating interior offensive lineman was to leave. The Eslinger situation could potentially negatively impact the center, as Scouts gauge interest and evaluate the prospects.

Finally the big buzz here in Mobile is not about the Senior Bowl, rather the combine.

For years players and their representatives have complained about the slow turf at the RCA Dome, even though more and more players break the 4.30 second barrier in the 40-yard dash every year. There was talk that the field turf in Indianapolis was to be ripped up and replaced with a faster surface for the Colts. The thought process was it would be ready for the NFL combine, which begins in earnest on Feb. 22.

That may not be the case, though no one can say for sure. Some NFL team executives on hand say the turf will be replaced in time for the combine while others say it is not going to be replaced at all.

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