TERRE HAUTE — Steve Weatherford can sleep a little easier this week.
Even though the NFL’s final preseason cuts aren’t due until Saturday, the former Terre Haute North High School multi-sport standout is virtually assured of being the New Orleans Saints’ punter when they visit the Indianapolis Colts to open the season next Thursday.
On Tuesday, the Saints released their other punter, Chris Hanson, to help reduce their roster to 75 players. More cuts will slice the final number to 53.
Saints coaches informed Weatherford on Sunday that the job is his for a second straight season. In 2006, he averaged 43.8 yards per attempt as a rookie out of the University of Illinois.
“I didn’t really relax until [Hanson] got released,” Weatherford told me Tuesday night. “I punted well in the preseason. He punted well. But I think I outpunted him… I stayed healthy. I tried to be as conservative as possible.”
The recently married Weatherford has purchased a house in Mandeville, La., about 25 miles from New Orleans, so he didn’t need the hassle of finding a new team.
Now he can concentrate on punting — and fielding calls on his cell phone from old friends who want tickets to the Saints-Colts game in the RCA Dome.
Surprisingly to me, Weatherford said he never attended a Colts home game when he was a teen-ager living in Terre Haute. So this will be his first.
“I’m a huge Colts fan,” he said. “I’ve gotten to know [Colts punter] Hunter Smith a little bit and he’s a really good guy.”
Weatherford respects Indianapolis’ prolific offense, led by quarterback Peyton Manning, but he said the Saints’ offense will be difficult for the Colts to stop as well.
“We’re so deep,” he emphasized. “We have a lot of guys who aren’t big-name guys, but they’re studs.”
Don’t forget quarterback Drew Brees and running back Reggie Bush, who do fall into the category of “big-name guys.”
“Drew’s a real hard worker,” Weatherford mentioned. “If Reggie stays healthy, he’ll be even better than he was last year.”
Weatherford expects the nationally televised contest to be “an offensive shootout.”
“As far as the quarterbacks go, you can’t get much better than this,” he said. “I think it’s going to be a fun game to watch. I think it’s going to come down to defense [perhaps one team creating a turnover at the right time].
“I think it’ll be a fun game. I can’t wait to watch it.”
Me either, Steve.
• ISU-NFL connections — Recent Indiana State players Carl Berman and Jamie Petrowski also are battling to stay on NFL teams, but their regular-season roster spots probably aren’t as secure as Weatherford’s.
In the preseason, Berman has played wide receiver/kickoff returner for the Washington Redskins and Petrowski has played tight end for the Tennessee Titans. Both have been slowed by minor injuries, but both survived their teams’ initial cuts.
Surviving the next cut will be more difficult.
Berman, who told me this week that the Redskins have eight wide receivers, figures veterans Santana Moss, Antwaan Randle El, Brandon Lloyd and James Thrash are pretty much locks to continue with the team beyond this weekend.
“They haven’t said how many they’ll keep [in the regular season],” he added. “They really don’t tell anybody a whole lot.”
Berman suffered a tweaked hamstring on the fourth day of training camp, so that kept him out of action for about a week. Since his return, he’s caught an 8-yard pass from back-up QB Mark Brunell and returned three kickoffs, his longest being 26 yards.
Keep in mind, this was written before the Redskins’ final preseason game Thursday night at Jacksonville in Berman’s home state of Florida.
“I’ve got to bring it to the field,” he stressed.
The 5-foot-9, 172-pound Berman, who said he was clocked in the 40-yard dash at 4.26 seconds back in April, isn’t taking a back seat to anybody on the team in the speed department.
Despite the competition for roster spots, he’s been impressed with how cooperative the veteran receivers have been about offering advice.
“Everyone is real helpful here,” Berman said. “They’re all about winning.”
Although Berman hopes we won’t see his name on the cut list this week, getting released wouldn’t be the end of the world. If it does happen, the possibility exists that he could clear waivers, re-sign with the Redskins and be placed on their practice squad for the season.
As for Petrowski, I wasn’t able to connect with him on his cell phone this week. His preseason stat line, according to nfl.com, consists of one reception for 11 yards.
Bo Scaife appears to be the No. 1 tight end on the Titans. Another tight end on their roster is former Colt Ben Hartsock.
Tennessee also had a preseason game scheduled Thursday night — at home against Green Bay.
David Hughes can be reached by phone at 1-800-783-8742, Option 4, or at (812) 231-4224; by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org; or by fax at (812) 231-4321.
TERRE HAUTE — Steve Weatherford can sleep a little easier this week.
- Hughes News & Views
Terre Haute runner sets up race to help Boston
Having competed in the Boston Marathon once before in 2003, 35-year-old Majel Wells of Terre Haute thought she should give it another try in 2013.
“My goal was just to finish and enjoy Boston,” she reflected this week. “I had an injury [runner’s knee] beforehand, so I wasn’t too worried about beating my time from 2003 [4 hours, 10.20 seconds].
“But nobody cares about what your time is at Boston anyway.”
From what I’ve heard over the years, she’s right. Unless you’re a super-serious runner, the Boston Marathon has been more about taking in the atmosphere and having fun than placing in the top 50, although Wells was pleased that she beat her previous time by finishing in 3:55.19 on April 15.
Obviously, her race time wasn’t the most vivid memory that Wells took away from her 2013 Boston experience.
Former South players to play in Saylor benefit game
I had my first phone conversation with Mike Saylor since mid-February on Thursday and he sounded good.
The former Terre Haute South High School boys basketball coach, who’s been battling cancer this year, has been traveling back and forth to the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston for chemotherapy treatments.
Recent South swimmers Roach, Bray heading to DI nationals
I’m sure most of you with office jobs can relate.
When work gets busy, sometimes it’s easy to skim over our emails. After all, how many times do we need to read the same nonsense from alleged Nigerians wanting to make us rich if we’ll send them several thousand dollars first?
So after having three consecutive days off, that almost happened to me when I returned to work Tuesday. Then I realized that the message from Jeff Thompson, Terre Haute South High School’s boys and girls swimming coach, contained significant news.
NCAA Division III basketball tournament returns to Rose-Hulman
The last time Rose-Hulman served as host for the NCAA Division III men’s basketball tournament, its game was played inside an old World War II airplane hangar.
You “old-timers” should know the building I’m talking about and the matchup wasn’t really that long ago — March 6, 1997, to be exact.
DAVID HUGHES: Childhood friends use faith, sports to get them through
When I learned in February 2009 that a rare form of appendix cancer would devastate my life and cause me to miss work for several months, Mike Saylor was among the first to offer assistance.
Book review: Thumbs up for ‘Trophies and Tears’
Now might be too late for giving Christmas presents, but the book “Trophies and Tears: The Story of Evansville and the Aces” is a fascinating read for longtime Indiana basketball fans, particularly those older than 40.
Written by award-winning Kyle Keiderling of Henderson, Nev., and released in hardcover format in mid-December, the 480-page “Trophies and Tears” documents the rich tradition of the University of Evansville men’s basketball program through recent interviews and research of old yearbooks and newspaper/scrapbook clippings.
The book contains many cheery moments — behind-the-scenes details of all five NCAA College Division (now known as Division II) championships won in the 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s by the Purple Aces and their legendary coach Arad McCutchan — although some of those moments don’t seem so cheery from an Indiana State perspective when the Sycamores found themselves on the losing end of scores.
Hughes, News & Views: Wishing for Colts-Broncos playoff matchup from Santa
There’s plenty of tragedy in the world to bring us down if we let it, so let’s have a light-hearted column today — my annual Christmas gift requests for Santa Claus.
I already know one of my gift wishes is becoming less likely to happen. That would be for the Indianapolis Colts to face the Denver Broncos in the AFC playoffs.
Colts' loyalty tested by Manning, Broncos
We’re approaching the halfway point of the NFL season and so far it’s been surprisingly enjoyable.
I wasn’t sure how I would handle following two favorite teams — 1a.) the Indianapolis Colts and 1b.) Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos — but the new arrangement hasn’t caused me any loyalty conflicts yet.
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My name isn’t attached to them, but I’m the one who usually puts together the “Sports on the air” television/radio listings that appear daily on this newspaper’s Scoreboard Page.
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When we last visited 16-year-old Rachel Gutish, she was finishing sixth in the Women’s Enduro X race in the nationally televised Summer X Games at Los Angeles.
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In June 2011, I wrote a feature story about former Indiana State basketball center Mick Yelovich making a name for himself as a golfer on the Long Drivers Association (LDA) Tour.
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I’ve got a longtime buddy who I’m fairly sure rarely, if ever, reads this column.
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Since May 14, Indiana high school basketball fans have wondered why Jim Jones would want to come out of retirement at 74.
HUGHES, NEWS & VIEWS: Questions abound for Indy 500, Manning, baseball sectional
Phones are ringing less frequently in the Tribune-Star sports department this week.
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If Kylie Hutson were a cross-country runner, she’d be approaching the final stretch of her biggest race in about three weeks.
HUGHES NEWS AND VIEWS: Rose basketball alumni offer advice to current team
Bryan Egli and Joe Puthoff, both Rose-Hulman basketball starters I covered in the late 1990s, took their degrees from the prestigious engineering institute and found successful careers in the Indianapolis area.
Egli, also a former West Vigo High School multi-sport standout, lives in Carmel and works for Thieneman Construction in Westfield. Puthoff lives in Indy and works for Rolls Royce Aircraft Engines.
DAVID HUGHES: Super Bowl odds getting stranger and stranger
Today’s annual “Super Bowl odds column” feels special to me because I’ve been a diehard NFL fan since 1967 and next Sunday will be the first time the big game takes place in our great state of Indiana.
HUGHES NEWS AND VIEWS: Coach’s book a chance to remember North Vermillion state champs
Almost 10 years ago, February 2002 to be exact, the New England Patriots upset the high-powered St. Louis Rams to win Super Bowl XXXVI in New Orleans, the Winter Olympics entertained spectators in Salt Lake City and Terre Haute South High School’s girls basketball team started its tournament run toward a Class 4A state title.
HUGHES NEWS AND VIEWS: Plenty of sports-related gifts for columnist's wish list
Last week, I was all set to beg Santa Claus to give the Indianapolis Colts a certificate good for one NFL regular-season victory.
Then the 2011 Colts decided to play like the 2009 Colts and clobber the Tennessee Titans on Sunday for their first win of the season. So that present won’t be necessary.
HUGHES NEWS AND VIEWS: WTHI defends decision not to show Colts
When your favorite NFL team is threatening to finish 0-16, you have to figure a few fans will jump off the bandwagon.
HUGHES NEWS AND VIEWS: Former South coach Rady makes it look easy
Jack Butcher, Howard Sharpe and Bill Stearman.
HUGHES NEWS AND VIEWS: Wheldon's genuine personality a devastating loss to racing
Lori Wood, the Tribune-Star’s Indianapolis 500 correspondent since 2000, planned to visit a friend in California and take in the IndyCar Las Vegas 300 as a ticket-buying fan last weekend.
HUGHES NEWS AND VIEWS: Past greats proud of ISU’s recent improvements
Indiana State football alum Chris “Big C” Hicks will turn 58 Saturday and he knows exactly what he wants for his birthday.
HUGHES NEWS AND VIEWS: Rose-Hulman hungry for first football victory of season
The Engineers have not endured a losing season since 2004. But they’ve opened this season at 0-2, causing Sokol to admit they’re desperate for a win.
“We’re all very hungry for a victory,” he said after practice Thursday. “We all want to taste victory really, really bad.”
Valley semipro football team reaches championship of IFL
The West Central Wildcats’ semipro football team from Terre Haute has been written about before in this column space over the last two years.
HUGHES NEWS & VIEWS: Colts cheerleaders glad to get back on field
When I heard the NFL lockout finally ended this week, I looked for someone affiliated with the Indianapolis Colts to get a reaction.
Amateur boxing card set for outdoors at Show-Me's
We all know what Show-Me’s sports bar is famous for around Terre Haute, right?
Chicken wings, of course.
HUGHES NEWS & VIEWS: Porter’s persistence keeps his boxing career going
When I walked in Sweatbox Gym through the alley door Wednesday, I wondered if a time machine had taken me back to the 1950s, the glory days of boxing.
HUGHES, NEWS AND VIEWS: Seaton aces chance for more Div. 1 volleyball
Plagued by one injury after another after another, Kristen Seaton was ready to turn off the lights on her volleyball career.
In her mind, the party was over.
HUGHES NEWS & VIEWS: Semi-pro football team to kick off season today
If you’re worried about the NFL season being canceled and you can’t wait months for the college and high school seasons to begin, you can get your football fix tonight at Memorial Stadium.
- More Hughes News & Views Headlines
- Terre Haute runner sets up race to help Boston