Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS AT THE GREENBRIER ; LOWERING THE BOOM; Rookie Lasco Trying to Make an Impact on Saints Roster

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS AT THE GREENBRIER ; LOWERING THE BOOM; Rookie Lasco Trying to Make an Impact on Saints Roster

Article excerpt

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS - When running back Daniel Lasco found a gaping hole in the New Orleans Saints' iffy defense, he thundered through it with bad intentions. And with revenge in mind. He was looking for No. 48, safety Vonn Bell, and found him - and lowered the boom.

Bell hit the deck hard on the artificial-turf field at The Greenbrier Sports Performance Center. He somehow managed to tackle Lasco by the shoestrings, but he got the message.

Earlier in the Saints' workout Thursday, Bell clocked Lasco on the sidelines with similar authority.

Both are rookies, draft picks fighting for a roster spot, and are going to pound each other every chance they get.

"First off, Vonn's my boy. Me and him are good friends, Lasco said after practice. "Ever since we got out here, we've been great friends. The period before, [Saints head coach Sean] Payton said we would just be thudding up.' So I'm running around the side and I got wrapped up; Vonn comes in and cleans me up.

"So I'm all right, man, next time I got you,' I'll remember that. When I finally got the opportunity, I hit it right up in the seam. Offensive line opened it up great. Then I saw Vonn sitting there, and he was kind of backpedaling a little bit. I've got the opportunity, I'd better take it.

"I got up and said, Come on, bro, you expected it. I'm getting you back.' It's all good.

Listed at 6-foot-1, 205 pounds, Lasco is a seventh-round pick out of California. He could have been taken a few rounds higher if not for a muscle strain in his hip that limited his senior season.

During his junior year at Cal, he rushed for 1,115 yards and gained 1,471 total yards. He won named the most valuable player of a Golden Bears team that included top quarterback prospect Jared Goff, and remained a captain his senior season. He struggled to play nine games, though, rushing for just 331 yards.

Lasco had to prove his health to NFL teams who spare few resources on testing and researching prospects. He did receive the good fortune of being invited to the NFL Combine.

And he tore it up.

His 40-yard speed was 4.46 seconds, but other numbers were mind- blowing - a standing long jump of 11 feet, 3 inches, longest ever by a running back at the Combine. His 41.5-inch vertical jump tied for third all-time at the position.

That got him drafted, albeit in the seventh round. He will have to fight doubts which go beyond the medical history. One analysis, on NFL.com: "His lack of vision and inability to run with consistent physicality will be challenges when it comes to making an NFL roster.

Lasco would beg to differ with questions on his physicality. The Saints went heavy on red-zone reps Thursday, which Lasco loved: "I am physical, especially now that we're focusing on red zone. This is a time where you have to drop your head, you're only limited to one thing. …

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