Saints moving to Jackson this week

Published 12:43 am Sunday, July 23, 2006

The New Orleans Saints are just days away from training camp, and will be heading to Millsaps College in Jackson this week in anticipation of beginning drills on Friday.

The team is finishing up preparations for camp, which has been held at their training headquarters in Metarie, La., the past few years.

It will mark the second time the team has trained in Mississippi.

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Also, Dwight Smith, who started at safety for the New Orleans Saints last season, has been released after unsuccessful attempts to trade him, the team said on Friday.

Smith, who turns 28 next month, signed a five-year contract as a free agent last year. But he didn’t seem to fit into the plans of the new coaching staff.

Under Sean Payton, the Saints added veteran safety Omar Stoutmire in free agency, traded for veteran safety Bryan Scott and drafted safety Roman Harper in the second round. Those three will compete for roster spots along with incumbents Josh Bullocks, Jay Bellamy and Steve Gleason once the team opens training camp July 27, in Jackson, Miss. Stoutmire and Bullocks are the projected starters.

“We’re just going to go with some younger guys. That’s what it comes down to,” Saints general manager Mickey Loomis said.

Smith said several teams already have shown interest in him, including Tampa Bay, where he played four seasons. He also mentioned Minnesota, Oakland and Dallas.

“At least now I get a chance to get in training camp somewhere, to see who’s going to give me the best opportunity to really come in and work and start. And somebody might want to sign me long term, so we’ll see,” said Smith.

Smith has 14 career interceptions in the regular season, and he returned two for touchdowns during the Buccaneers’ victory over Oakland in Super Bowl XXXVII. The Saints will save Smith’s salary of $1.2 million against the salary cap this year. He was scheduled to earn salaries of $1.6 million, $2.5 million and $3.5 million over the following three seasons. The team will still be charged the remainder of his $3.5 million signing bonus over the next two years.