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Saints waiting to decide on veteran LBs Brooks, Smith after workouts

METAIRIE, La. -- Veteran linebackers Derrick Brooks and Derek Smith completed workouts with the New Orleans Saints on Wednesday afternoon, leaving coaches impressed but uncommitted to signing either one of them.

"Those guys are both in great shape," Saints coach Sean Payton said. "We're not going to do anything right yet."

The team brought in the two linebackers after learning that veteran Mark Simoneau had a torn triceps in his right arm, which will require surgery.

The Saints open their preseason schedule Friday night against the Cincinnati Bengals at the Superdome, and Payton said the team would wait until after that game before deciding whether to sign another player.

When Payton disclosed Simoneau's injury Tuesday, he initially believed the surgery would be Wednesday, but he later said it won't happen until Thursday.

The Saints have several options with Simoneau. They could place him on injured reserve, ending his season, or release him and hope to re-sign him when he heals later in the season. If Simoneau's recovery is expected to be relatively quick, the team could keep him on its roster.

"It's a question we haven't really answered yet," Payton said. "A lot of it is going to be based on how the surgery went and the doctor's prognosis."

Brooks is a 14-year veteran who has been named to 11 Pro Bowls. The 36-year-old has played his entire career for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who released him last winter.

Saints starting middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma called Brooks "one of my idols growing up."

"What more can you ask than to have a guy like that come in -- instant leadership, instant veteran play," Vilma said. "I couldn't be happier if they did bring him in."

Smith, 34, has played in the NFL for 12 years. He was a regular starter early in his career with the Washington Redskins and San Francisco 49ers, but he played in just a handful of games last season with the San Diego Chargers and Miami Dolphins.

Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams said a fellow NFL coach he trusts, whom he declined to name, had spoken highly of Smith.

"It's really an even race," Williams said. "Both those guys you have to treat with great respect. They worked out very well. They really did. It was fun to watch them."

If the Saints sign either player, it would be only as a backup at first. The Saints' starting linebackers, for now, appear to be Vilma, Scott Fujita and Scott Shanle.

"In either player's case, it would be as a guy that could come in and initially give us depth," Payton said. "There's going to be a learning curve that's pretty significant this late in the process.

Money isn't expected to factor into whether the Saints decide to add Brooks or Smith, Payton said.

"Both players are hungry and looking forward to an opportunity," he said. "I don't think that would be a big sticking point."

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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