METAIRIE, La. -- Tight end Jeremy Shockey said he plans to participate in the New Orleans Saints' final eight voluntary workouts and wants to turn the focus on him back to football.
Shockey, talking to reporters between practices at New Orleans' mandatory minicamp, has made more headlines off the field than on it since joining the Saints nearly a year ago.
He missed much of last season because of a hernia injury and failed to score a touchdown in the NFL's top-rated offense.
He did not attend the first four of the team's voluntary offseason practices and was back in the news two weeks ago when he was treated at a hospital for dehydration after being found unconscious at a pool party at a Las Vegas resort.
He offered few specifics about the Vegas incident, but seemed to confirm that excessive consumption of alcohol mixed with the desert heat led to the dehydration.
"If you're halfway intelligent you can read what everybody wrote," Shockey said. "You know what they say, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. That's in the past. I'm looking forward to the future."
"I still haven't been here a year so I can mature a long way and tune up my game," he said. "The most important thing is to know Drew and know what we're trying to get accomplished and knowing each other's game. It's still a new offense for me. I'm going to treat it as a rookie like anyone else in this locker room that just got here."
The Saints traded for Shockey last summer and he suffered a hernia injury during training camp. He said that he made a mistake playing through the injury and eventually needed in-season surgery. Though he was third on the team with 50 receptions, Shockey didn't have the kind of impact New Orleans envisioned even as Brees passed for the second-most yards ever in an NFL season.
Shockey said he doesn't care if people question his commitment as long as his coaches and teammates don't.
"I know my heart and my desire are in this, so people can question it all they want," he said. "It's always good practicing, leading up to the season. But the No. 1 thing to keep in mind is it's during the game when it counts, not when it's out here with pillows on your shoulders. It's when you have the pads on and you're going against a real opponent.
"I think everyone knows I'm here to try to help this team win," Shockey added. "I'm not here to sell jerseys or anything like that. I'll have the time this year to show people I'm healthy and different from last year."
Notes: First-round draft choice Malcolm Jenkins was excused from Friday's practice to finish class obligations at Ohio State, but he was expected to join the team on the field Saturday. ...Fifth-round draft choice Thomas Morstead was excused to attend a funeral and was due back Friday night. ...LB Dan Morgan left the afternoon workout because of a calf strain, the severity of which wasn't immediately known. ...TE Dan Campbell suffered a partial tear of his MCL, will undergo arthroscopic surgery Monday, and should be ready for the start of training camp. ...TE Darnell Dinkins missed the afternoon practice after spraining his right ankle.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press