Shockey a "walk-on" with Saints

New New Orleans Saints tight end Jeremy Shockey won't play in Thursday's preseason opener. But he's already fitting in with the Saints. During his first days at Saints training camp, Shockey has played down the flamboyant demeanor he displayed in New York and sought to strike a more subdued chord with his new teammates. Besides, he said, his personality is blown out of proportion.

See what Drew Brees had to say about the acquisition of Jeremy Shockey by clicking right here.

If he has revenge in his heart toward the New York Giants, he's not saying it.

If he has hard feelings toward his former team, he's not showing it.

But it's clear Jeremy Shockey is relieved he'll be spending this season in New Orleans instead of the more media-intense New York City.

Headline writers for the Big Apple papers will mourn his loss, maybe some of his former teammates. But the rest? Shockey could do without it.

"If I had gone back to the Giants no matter what it would have been a circus. I'd have went up there if they kept me, there would have been all of the rumors if they were better off without me, this, that," he said. "The last thing I wanted to do was be a distraction."

Not being a distraction is why he skipped the 2007 Super Bowl after suffering a fractured left fibula that kept him out the last two games of the regular season and the playoffs. Those headline writers had a field day with that one.

Shockey doesn't intentionally set out to cause distractions, he said. Media reports about his behavior don't bother him. It's his family who reads the newspapers anyway.

"They're the ones, my mother especially, that read the newspaper," he said. "I always hear about it from my brother and it doesn't really bother me. Obviously I'd like to just concentrate on football besides looking to be a distraction, being in the paper, being out here, going over here, this city, whatever. It gets out of control a little bit."

Shockey has a long and colorful history.

Consider: In September 2006, the Giants fell behind 35-3 at halftime and lost. Shockey said his team had been out-coached. Two years earlier, Shockey was quoted in New York magazine calling Bill Parcells a "homo."

In January 2003, Shockey, during a playoff game was caught celebrating before Giants ultimately lost, was fined $10,000 for making an obscene gesture and later apologized for throwing ice on a child in the stands.

And in February, the New York media hammered Shockey for not attending the Giants Super Bowl XLII victory parade.

Shockey, however, says his skipping the parade had nothing to do with his unhappiness at missing out on the playoffs.

"Sometimes it's good to sit back and watch. You want to be out there. The things that were written that I was unhappy, I never said anything in the paper, they just wrote their own thing, their own synopsis," he said. "I'm very happy for those guys up there, coaches, everyone. They did a great job and they deserved everything they got."

Shockey thinks he's just a bit misunderstood.

"The people that know me as a person like Jon (Vilma) and several other guys on this team that I know, they'll tell you that I'm not as wild and rebellious as some people say, but that's the media," he said. "They build you up to knock you down and if you know me, you know me. If not, the rumors fly. You've probably heard it all. I've heard it all. What you see is what you get. I wear my emotion on my sleeves and I'm a true person. I 'm not fake or fabricated to anybody."

As far as his trade, Shockey chalks it up to New Orleans "wanting me more." The move puts Shockey back in the hands of Sean Payton, who was the Giants offensive coordinator during Shockey's rookie year.

"Sean drafted me. He did a great job of helping me learn to be a pro. Playing every day in the NFL is to come to work and be ready to work. That is what he really preached. He talked a lot about paying attention to the small details. It hasn't changed."

Payton also constructed the offense in which Shockey had his best statistical season. Shockey caught 74 passes for 894 yards and two touchdowns as a rookie. Payton went to the Dallas Cowboys the following year.

Shockey is already impressed with his new team's offense.

"Statistics speak for it. You can see that they're top three every year, offense, the red zone and other intriguing statistics," Shockey said. "It speaks for itself. It's going to be a fun year and I'm excited to be here."

He does expect to start from "ground zero."

"I'm a walk on here," he said. "I'm just trying to make this team and to do the best I can to help everybody around me."

His new teammates are a little more positive that the tight end will make an immediate, and powerful, impact.

"I think he helps out a lot, both in the passing game and the running game," said Saints running back Reggie Bush. "Obviously he is a bigger tight end, he has an edge about him and he definitely brings and attitude to our offense and to our team, and that's definitely something that I think is going to help us out a lot."

If his past stats are any indication, quarterback Drew Brees has just picked up a fantastic new target. Shockey, a four-time Pro Bowl pick, played in 83 regular season games, starting in all but one. He's fourth on the Giants' career reception list and first among tight ends. Shockey's 371 catches put him second among active tight ends. The Chiefs' Tony Gonzalez is first with 820 catches.

Shockey's 4,228 receiving yards place him 12th in Giants team history and his 27 touchdowns tie him with Earnest Gray, Ike Hilliard and Chris Calloway for the 11th spot on the team's career list.

Injury plagued, Shockey made it to only three postseason games, where he had 13 receptions for 143 yards and one TD.

Brees has worked with some of the NFL's best tight ends, but Shockey may be the best yet.

"He's a Pro Bowler, he's a Super Bowl champion, he's a guy that knows how to play at a high level and knows how to win, so I'm really excited about getting him in this offense and really seeing now where we can take it by kind of adding a new dimension," Brees said.

In Shockey's case, he's looking forward to taking to the field with Brees. "I know a lot about him. For a guy who plays at his level, you can't miss him."

And other teams in the NFC South are aware that the Saints just got a little bit better.

"We know New Orleans got better at tight end," said Bucs cornerback Ronde Barber. "I hate that guy (Jeremy Shockey). No, I love the guy. He's a great player and a good friend of mine. But you know that they've improved."

Shockey says he's not back to 100 percent – "I haven't had a broken bone ever in my life like I had right now – but insists he'll be back at full speed soon.

But his plan for his first Saints season is simple. "What I've been trying to the past six years which is just play full speed and play as hard as I can. I can't control injuries. I just play this game with passion and a lot of heart."

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