There are certain players like wide receiver Joey Galloway that just rip apart a particular team like the New Orleans Saints. There’s no rhyme or reason for the success, just the simple fact that Galloway is a menace on the Saints defense.
Galloway had opportunities to burn the Seattle Seahawks’ defense deep last week and capitalized on a couple of those opportunities. Galloway and quarterback Jeff Garcia should have the same opportunities to connect on the deep route after watching what Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning did to the New Orleans secondary in a 41-10 win in their season opener.
In four meetings against the Saints, Galloway has racked up 17 receptions for 218 yards and six touchdowns. The Saints addressed their cornerback situation in the offseason by signing free-agent Jason David from the Colts to take over for cornerback Fred Thomas, who is now a backup.
Even head coach Jon Gruden can’t explain why Galloway has had the success he has had against the Saints.
“I don’t know. Sometimes we’ve had guys that were open and we just haven’t hit them,” Gruden said. “Joey has his moments just about every Sunday and we hope we can get him some open looks down the field. We hope we can get some looks anywhere on the field for him because as you’ve seen he can take a short pass the distance or hurt you down the field. So we would like to get some other guys involved honestly and we are trying to do that.”
Because Galloway demands so much attention in the secondary, wide receivers Ike Hilliard, Michael Clayton and Maurice Stovall will have the opportunity to make some plays in the passing game on Sunday. Hilliard had four receptions for 49 yards in the 20-6 loss to the Seahawks and should see more balls come his way against the Saints.
New Orleans head coach Sean Payton, who was the offensive coordinator with Dallas when Galloway played for the Cowboys, knows extensively what Galloway can do with the ball in his hands. The second-year coach made it a point to stress to his defense this week to know where Galloway is any time he’s on the field.
“I think knowing where he’s at on every play is very important,” Payton said. “Each week a guy like him you know he can run, you know he’s fast and you know they are going to try and take some shots with him. And each week he manages to get behind the secondary regardless of coverage. So you try to have awareness of splits, where he’s located and the type of routes he likes to run from various formations. He’s explosive and obviously someone we have a ton of respect for. He can change the game around real quickly.”
PISCITELLI SHOWS HE’S A TEAM PLAYER
When training camp began, it was thought that if a rookie was going to start at safety on the Bucs defense it would have been second-round pick Sabby Piscitelli. However, rookie safety Tanard Jackson, who was selected in the fourth round, got the start against the Seattle Seahawks in a 20-6 loss.
Piscitelli, however, just keeps working to improve at his position and not worry about decisions that are out of his control.
“They have their plan in mind and that’s their call,” said Piscitelli. “They have me playing strong right now behind Flip [Jermaine Phillips]. I tried to go play both, but they have me at strong. I’m just going to keep trying to work and make the most of my opportunities.”
Piscitelli struggled through a minor hamstring strain at the beginning of training camp that forced him to miss the preseason opener against the New England Patriots. Piscitelli saw limited action against the Jacksonville Jaguars while Jackson stole the spotlight. making three consecutive plays in a goal line stand.
Because of that setback, Piscitelli is still trying to catch up and make the most of his limited opportunities during the regular season.
“I had a slow start to the preseason,” said Piscitelli. “I didn’t even play in the first game. I barely played in the second game. That’s just something you have to deal with in football. Hopefully I can get back on track here, catch up and then go out there and make plays.”
BUCS INTERESTED IN WR BLOOM?
With the Bucs still looking to improve their kickoff and punt returns, Tampa Bay worked out former Philadelphia Eagles kick returner Jeremy Bloom last week. Wide receiver Mark Jones was re-signed on Wednesday after the Bucs released wide receiver David Boston. Jones was thought to take over the kick and punt return duties after Galloway and Hilliard rotated with punts last week against Seattle.
Running back Earnest Graham returned kickoffs against Seattle.
“We brought him in some time ago,” Gruden said. “We brought him in, we had some interests in him coming out of Colorado. Obviously he sat one of those years to go to the Olympics. He’s a great story, he’s a fast guy; dynamic returner at Colorado, but right now I can’t comment anymore than that.”
Brian Kelly (groin), who didn’t practice for a third consecutive day, was downgraded to doubtful for Sunday’s game. Gruden stated that he doesn’t believe that Kelly’s injury will keep him out for a long period of time, but it seems as though he won’t see any action against the Saints. Defensive tackle Chris Hovan (ankle) and running back Cadillac Williams (ribs) are listed as questionable, after limited action at Friday’s practice. Defensive end Patrick Chukwurah (knee) is out for the Saints game.
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