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Always in pain, Conwell plays on

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  • Always in pain, Conwell plays on

    Always in pain, Conwell plays on

    NEW ORLEANS -- New Orleans Saints tight end Ernie Conwell has had surgery 13 times in his eight-year NFL career, and even that stat doesn't tell the whole story.

    "I've separated my right shoulder twice, but didn't have surgery on it," Conwell chuckled. "I've had a number of concussions. I've been knocked out in a game, I think that was 1998 against the Jets. And I've broken my ribs a few times."

    The latest injury was a fractured ankle last November which put him on injured reserve for the second time in his career. It was a bad injury, but not the worst he's had.

    "No, no, no," Conwell said. "The worst was in '98 when I dislocated my left knee. I had to have four knee operations on that knee to get back."

    The injury happened on Oct. 25 when Conwell was playing for the St. Louis Rams. Conwell returned in time to play in three regular season games and three playoff games in 1999.

    "I love playing this game, and part of playing it is being able to overcome setbacks," Conwell said. "Overcoming setbacks weekly when you're playing in a game and have something happen -- penalty, turnover, mistake made. You have to deal with that and overcome it. And the same thing is true when you have an injury."

    And then there is the example Conwell wants to set for his four children.

    "I want my kids to see that Dad had some things happen to him, but look at how he responded to them," Conwell said. "I want my kids to see that when something happened I just dug down and kept working."

    The good news for the Saints is that Conwell is healthy again.

    Before he was injured last season, Conwell was on pace to have his most productive receiving year. He finished with 26 receptions for 290 yards, an average of 11.2 yards a catch, and two touchdowns.

    When Conwell went down, Boo Williams stepped up, making 41 catches for 436 yards (10.6 yards per catch) and five touchdowns.

    "Ernie has taught me a lot," Williams said. "We have some big goals for the tight end position this year. With the two of us, it's going to be a big part of the offense."

    Conwell agrees. He and Williams are co-starters in the double tight end formations and will mix it up in single tight end formations, he said.

    "Boo and I sit around and talk about it all the time," Conwell said. You've got two solid players at that position and you can take advantage of what each guy can bring to the table."

    Last year Williams and Conwell were the third best tight-end tandem in the league, with Conwell missing six games. This year, their goal is to be No. 1.

    "Assuming we can stay healthy," Conwell said.

    Conwell, 34, who is married to his junior-high school sweetheart, has a degree in sociology and is just shy of one in history. In the offseason he attends Victory Leadership Institute and works for Bethel Church in Brentwood, Tenn. He plans to earn his degree in theology before he ends his NFL career.

    "That's what I feel called to," Conwell said. "But I hope to finish the final four years on my contract with the Saints first. If I can stay healthy."

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  • RamWraith
    Coady, Conwell will cross paths
    by RamWraith
    By Bill Coats
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Thursday, Sep. 23 2004

    Former teammates on
    opposing missions now

    If Rich Coady and Ernie Conwell have a reunion Sunday, it won't exactly be a
    tea-and-cookies affair.

    With Aeneas Williams moving to cornerback, Coady is expected to start at free
    safety for the Rams against New Orleans. Conwell, who played in St. Louis from
    1996 through 2002 and had a locker near Coady's, is the Saints' starting tight

    So Coady and Conwell could meet again, this time on the Edward Jones Dome turf.
    "Playing against (Conwell) every day in practice for three or four years, it'd
    be nice to go live against him," Coady said.

    Conwell represents only a small part of Coady's concerns, though. The Saints'
    top running back, Deuce McAllister, is sidelined with a high-ankle sprain,
    meaning that coach Jim Haslett will have to rely on journeymen Aaron Stecker
    and Ki-Jana Carter for any semblance of a ground game.

    So logic indicates that New Orleans quarterback Aaron Brooks will have the ball
    in the air much of the afternoon. "We expect to have a busy day," Coady said.
    "You like that, though, when the action's around you and when you're around the
    ball. It'll be fun for us to go out there and do the best we can and try to
    shut that down."

    The Saints (1-1) hardly have been on offensive juggernaut: They're averaging
    291.5 yards (22nd in the 32-team NFL) and 18.5 points (17th) per game. Yet
    Brooks' 502 passing yards are exceeded by only eight quarterbacks.

    Wide receivers Joe Horn (14 catches, 204 yards) and Donte' Stallworth (12, 149)
    are his favorite targets. Conwell has three catches for 32 yards.

    The 6-foot-1, 210-pound Coady said Brooks is especially effective when he
    throws "over the middle and deep outside. He's got a real live arm, quick
    release, throws the ball well. And he's got two great receivers to throw to, so
    that makes it easy."

    Coady, 28, was the Rams' third-round pick (No. 68 overall) in the 1999 draft
    out of Texas A&M. He has started 11 games in six seasons, but most of his work
    this year has been as an extra back in passing situations.

    "Instead of playing 30 plays, I'll play 60. So it won't be that big of a
    difference for me," Coady said. "You prepare to start every week, and I've been
    here long enough that I'll know what I'm doing every play. It's not one of
    those things where I've got to go in there and learn a bunch of new
    terminology. It should be pretty simple and pretty basic."

    Chillar rests foot

    First-team linebacker Brandon Chillar sat...
    -09-24-2004, 05:04 AM
  • RamWraith
    Conwell's back - as a Saint
    by RamWraith
    By Lori Shontz
    Of the Post-Dispatch

    Ernie Conwell was born in Reston, Wash., and he stayed at home for his college years at the University of Washington. Since 2002, he has played tight end for the New Orleans Saints.

    But when people ask Conwell and his wife, Andrea, where they're from, they often fail to mention either of those places.

    "My wife and I, we still have a tendency to say we're from St. Louis," said Conwell, who played in St. Louis for seven years after the Rams chose him in the second round of the 1996 NFL draft. "That's where we really grew into adulthood as a married couple. Where our kids grew up."

    So when Conwell returns to the Edward Jones Dome on Sunday for the first time as an opposing player, he expects to feel a twinge or two.

    "I'm sure it's going to be a weird feeling to be on the opposite sideline," he said. "And it'll be a different experience. But I think all that'll happen in pre-game, the warm-ups, and then just like anything else, when the game starts we're playing football and it'll kind of just subside, I'm sure."

    The Saints, as usual, are looked upon as a team with plenty of talent, particularly offensively, with running back Deuce McAllister (who was injured a week ago against the *****), quarterback Aaron Brooks and wide receivers Joe Horn and Donte' Stallworth. Somehow, however, that talent rarely turns into results.

    "The key right now is we don't want to talk about talent, ability, potential," Conwell said. "They're almost like four-letter words in this business. We just know that we have to take care of business every week and that we're only as good as we are on game day.

    "I think we're just maturing in that we realize that we're going to have to prepare like champions, we're going to have to practice like champions, and then go out and play hard and winning will take care of itself. I think we're starting to learn that as a team."

    That said, the Saints started the season with a loss to the Seattle Seahawks, and although they beat San Francisco a week ago, they played sloppily at times. They also lost McAllister with a high-ankle sprain. He will be out for four or five weeks, leaving the running back duties to Aaron Stecker and Ki-Jana Carter.

    "We'll package them up based on what they do best," Saints coach Jim Haslett said in his Monday news conference. "I think both of them have good qualities; both of them are good running backs.

    "I think Aaron showed (Sunday against San Francisco) that he has good, pretty good running skills, he's tough. You can see why Ki-Jana Carter was the No. 1 pick in the draft - he's got great vision. He's lost a little bit of speed, but he's a good player."

    By necessity, Haslett said, the Saints will...
    -09-26-2004, 04:48 AM
  • DJRamFan
    Injuries Can't Stop Matha and Williams
    by DJRamFan
    Senior defenders anxious to make an impact after rehabilitation.

    Sept. 25, 2005

    AUDIO - Media teleconference with Coach Ron Zook

    by Jenna Lawfer, Illinois Sports Information

    There's no greater silencing effect on a football field than the sight of a fallen player lying on the turf without any sign of returning to his feet. There's no greater fear for an athlete than experiencing an injury that could potentially put an end to his dreams of success. Unfortunately, injuries are accepted as a reality in football because of the high level of intensity and the physical contact involved.

    Even though injuries seem commonplace on the field, there is no common cure to aid an ailing player. Battling through an injury can be one of the most trying feats not only against a player's body, but also his mind. Being within reach of one's goals, only to see them slip away, would be enough for any positive thinker to slip into a slump.

    Senior defensive duo Ryan Matha and Travis Williams are very familiar with the everyday struggles and emotional rollercoasters that accompany an injury, as they both have fought back from the trial in their Illinois tenure.

    In 2002, Ryan Matha suffered a knee injury that instantly ended his sophomore season after marking up 10 tackles in his first seven games and developing a promising momentum that could have carried him through the season. When trying to prove yourself on a team of 100 guys, there is no opportune time to get hurt, and unfortunately, Matha's injury couldn't have come at a more crucial point in his football career.

    "The timing was tough for him, just coming off his first season start against Purdue the previous week," said former Illini football player and friend Matt Sinclair. "A lot of people didn't expect such a small sophomore to come in and play like he did. He was just about to earn everything he had been training so hard for in the off season, and after he hurt his knee, one might begin to wonder if it was all just a waste of time."

    However, Matha never adopted this mindset and instead, refocused the worries of 'Will I ever play again?' to statements of 'When I get back on the field...'"

    Travis Williams has gone through rehabilitation and is working to get into the starting lineup in the defensive backfield.

    Unlike Matha's abrupt interruption, injury crept slowly upon defensive back Travis Williams as he battled through the first five games of 2004. It was a reccurring hip injury that eventually sidelined him, after recording an impressive 27 tackles in...
    -09-25-2005, 04:16 PM
  • MauiRam
    Would anyone like to see this guy in horns?
    by MauiRam
    MANDEVILLE, La. (AP)—Deuce McAllister(notes) is done trying to be a superstar, done trying to carry a team on his back as he did with the New Orleans Saints earlier this decade.

    The 30-year-old power runner doesn’t want to be the embittered player living in denial about the effects of age and injuries on his game. He does, however, still want to win a Super Bowl—as a player.

    “Keep living,” McAllister said. “Either injuries are going to take you out or age will catch you, and you have to kind of redefine your role if you want to continue to play.

    “I’m content,” McAllister added. “I’ve been the guy before, so I’m beyond that. The ultimate goal is to win a championship and to be able to help a team out.”

    Drafted by the Saints out of Ole Miss in 2001, McAllister is the franchise’s career rushing leader with 6,096 yards. His 55 total touchdowns and 49 rushing TDs also are Saints records.


    Released by New Orleans after last season, McAllister has spent part of the offseason visiting with doctors at Duke University and the rest in Gulf Breeze, Fla., working out about five hours a day at a sports medicine institute run by orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews.

    Just about every morning, he’s pulling sleds or doing other traditional resistance training. With a military base nearby, he sometimes works out alongside special forces soldiers, admiring their techniques and stamina.

    “Those guys are pretty neat,” McAllister said, cracking a smile. “They can probably run 30 minutes at time, but their lateral movement is not the best.”

    McAllister’s goal was to figure out why his knees have taken such a beating in recent seasons. He’s torn anterior cruciate ligaments in both legs, first his right one in 2005 and then the left in 2007. He’s needed minor cleanup operations since and played hurt throughout last season, having fluid drained from his left knee on a routine basis.

    McAllister said doctors have advised him to work on strength and flexibility in his hips, ankles and core, something he didn’t focus on as much before.

    “It’s really just working on everything around the knee to take some of the pressure off of the knee,” McAllister said.

    He hopes within a few weeks to be ready to start visiting teams interested in signing him. He also wouldn’t rule out returning to New Orleans, which he said would be “a dream come true. … But if it’s on a visiting team, then so be it. All that will play itself out.”

    Certainly, McAllister remains popular with Saints fans.

    On Friday, he traveled back to the New Orleans area to continue his long-standing charity work in the region. His Catch 22 Foundation joined with local company Allfax Specialties Inc., hosting a golf tournament to raise money for Children’s Hospital of New Orleans.

    More than 200...
    -05-16-2009, 12:30 PM
  • RamWraith
    Saints' super-sized clowns have ties to St. Louis
    by RamWraith
    By Kathleen Nelson

    Meet the Meatheads.

    Four members of the New Orleans Saints who love to lift weights have formed a merry band that eats together, goes to movies together and terrorizes the halls of the Alamodome in San Antonio on motorized scooters.

    Think circus clowns - super-sized circus clowns.

    They are a source of companionship to one another and comic relief to their teammates, a necessity since Hurricane Katrina forced the Saints to leave their homes and families. Two of the Meatheads are former Rams: tight end Ernie Conwell and defensive tackle Brian Young.

    Conwell spent seven seasons with the Rams after being drafted in 1996 and signed with the Saints in 2003. The Rams drafted Young in 2000; the Saints signed him as an unrestricted free agent in 2004.

    Young connected almost immediately upon his arrival in New Orleans with Conwell, his former teammate and soul mate, who held the Rams' bench-press record. The other Meatheads are fullback Mike Carney, who grew up with Conwell's nieces and nephews in Conwell's hometown of Kent, Wash., and Rodney Leisle, one of Young's backups.

    The group has served as a surrogate family for Conwell, whose wife, Andrea, and four children are staying in Nashville.

    Conwell serves as a hero to the rest. While buying necessities to take to evacuees, Conwell met Ronald Tennessee, who had lost everything, including the engagement ring he planned to give his fiancee. Conwell took Tennessee to the jewelry counter and paid for a set of rings, as well as clothing for Tennessee's bride. He hasn't seen Tennessee since, though he heard that the couple were married at the shelter.

    The Meatheads take a lot of ribbing for their maniacal devotion to lifting but brazenly flaunt their favored mode of transportation. Conwell bought four scooters on clearance for $200 each, which the quartet uses inside the Alamodome.

    "They go seven, eight miles an hour," Young said. "Most of us are over the suggested weight limit. There's a warning about being over 275 (pounds). I think there's only one of us under the limit, and that's Ernie."

    Far from being the object of ridicule, the Meatheads are at the cutting edge.

    "It's starting to catch on," Young said. "I think everybody realizes how much easier it is on the body. Our meeting rooms, everything, are on the other side of the building. But we have to come down here to get dressed, walk all the way back down there for walk-throughs, come all the way back down here to get dressed and go upstairs to eat. It's a lot of walking, and it will take its toll, so it does save your legs quite a bit."

    We're guessing that you have to be there not to laugh.

    On the field, the former St. Louisans remain...
    -10-22-2005, 04:37 AM