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May 23, 2012

Harper: Adversity will make Saints better

BESSEMER | With or without his suspended coach, with or without a couple of suspended teammates, Roman Harper is just ready to play some football.

The former University of Alabama safety, a starter with the embattled New Orleans Saints, doesn't quite know what to make of the penalties the NFL imposed on the club for an alleged bounty program in which a cash pool was said to be in place for Saints who knocked specific opposing players out of games.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell handed out several suspensions, including a one-year ban on head coach Sean Payton.

"It was what it was. You knew something was going to come out. You didn't think it was going to be as harsh as it was," Harper said at the DeMeco Ryans Foundation golf tournament last week.

"Roger made a decision, and we'll move on from it, and we'll be better because of it. At the end of the day, a little adversity never hurt anyone."

Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma, accused of being at the center of the bounty program, was suspended for the entire season without pay. Subsequently, Vilma's attorney said he planned to file a lawsuit against Goodell.

"You'd have to ask J.V., but I love the move. It's like a chess piece move," Harper said with a grin. "I like it. You make a move, I make a move, we'll see where it goes."

Harper also commented on former Alabama running back Mark Ingram, who was limited by injuries in his rookie season with the Saints.

"He's getting healthy. Last year he was a little banged up, but he's moving around a lot better. I was in the training room with him just the other day," Harper said. "He's coming along really well, and I expect big things out of Mark. He's learning to run the ball with a little more patience. He's just so powerful and so anxious, and he wants to be so good."

Simpson still active

Former UA linebacker Juwan Simpson is a four-year veteran of the Canadian Football League as a middle linebacker with the Calgary Stampeders. As a starter last year, he was second on the team in tackles with 55 despite missing several games with an injury.

The biggest differences between the American game and the CFL?

One of the major ones is the width of the field. The CFL game is played on fields 65 yards wide, about 12 yards wider than a college field.

"It's a lot harder because there is no sideline to force them back to you. Some guys who catch the ball from the short side to the wide side, you can be right on their tail and they're still gaining yardage," Simpson said. "It's a lot easier to turn the corner. You get used to it, like everything else. I just run and hit. That's all I've ever done anyway."

Croyle settles in Tuscaloosa

Former UA quarterback Brodie Croyle has opted for retirement from professional football after an injury-plagued career in the NFL.

"My last year was really 2010, then last year when I'd go to tryouts, all the injuries always came up," Croyle said. "I could see it was going to turn into one of those every-year-a-new-team, one-year deals, that kind of thing. I decided I'd had enough."

Croyle said he is living in Tuscaloosa and pursuing a real estate license.

"I'm getting into the land business. I'm enjoying being back, for sure," he said.

Reach Chase Goodbread at chase@tidesports.com or at 205-722-0196.

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