NEW ORLEANS (AP) -Jeremy Shockey ran some plays with the first team offense in practice on Monday and appears on track to make his first appearance in a Saints uniform when New Orleans plays its third preseason game on Saturday night in Cincinnati.
``Today was certainly more (action) than he's gotten and the plan is to get him in Saturday,'' coach Sean Payton said. ``He's getting a lot better. He's in shape. So I'm hopeful we go this week, each day, without any setbacks.''
Shockey, a four-time Pro Bowl tight end, whose outspokenness sometimes upset his coaches as much as his big-play ability delighted them, broke his left leg in December and missed the rest of the New York Giants' Super Bowl run. During the offseason, he asked to be traded and was sent to New Orleans just days before training camp began.
Shockey has practiced only sparingly since joining the Saints.
``I've been in this league for seven years and you know how to take care of your body,'' Shockey said. ``You see guys coming in and out of this league and the guys who take care of their bodies the best are the guys that stay in the league. I'm doing everything I can on my part. ... I'm excited about the opportunity and I don't want to do something stupid and hurt something else by pushing too hard. We've got a couple of good weeks ahead of us to be ready for the real games.''
Through his first six seasons, Shockey has 371 receptions for 4,228 yards and 27 touchdowns.
One of his most productive seasons was his rookie year, the year Payton was his offensive coordinator in New York, when he caught 74 passes for 894 yards. That, and the opportunity to play with Drew Brees in a pass-heavy offense, were some of the main reasons Shockey pushed for a trade to New Orleans.
``If you don't see me out there practicing, I'm working on the treadmill underwater, so I'm getting myself prepared and in shape,'' Shockey said. ``The only thing I can do is keep concentrating on learning the offensive play book, which I think I have a good grasp. I've spent some good time with Drew. It's going to be fun. We've got a lot of time. Like I said, this week I'm going to push it a little bit more just to see how it goes from there.''
Payton, who calls the Saints' offensive plays, is eager to see what Shockey can do in his system and had hoped to have the tight end in the lineup by last weekend, when the Saints hosted Houston.
``We probably would have expected him to have gotten more work, probably in the second preseason game, but we're here right now and we've got plenty of practice opportunities for him,'' Payton said. ``The down side would be pushing it and having a setback and not having him for the first week of the season. So you weigh that.
``I'm optimistic he'll get in'' against the Bengals, Payton said. ``The plan is to practice him all week and play him in the game.''
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