NEW ORLEANS (AP)—The “piano man,” Joey Harrington, has landed a new gig in the birthplace of jazz. He’ll be playing third fiddle behind Saints starting quarterback Drew Brees and backup Mark Brunell.
Harrington signed with the Saints and participated in his first practice Friday at the team’s suburban training center, a day before the Saints were set to leave for Sunday’s game at Denver.
“When I say it’s going to be a great fit, I think it’s in all areas,” Harrington said. “You’ve got the weapons, so you’re going to win some games. You’ve got a great coach who knows how to use them and you’ve got two great quarterbacks here. … That’s the biggest thing for me now is just to take a step back, get my feet under me and learn the best that I can. See what it’s like to be on a team that wins some games.”
Harrington, a standout at Oregon also known for his talent as a pianist, has spent six seasons in the NFL since being drafted third overall by Detroit in 2002. He played for Miami in 2006 and for Atlanta last season.
He appeared in 12 games for the Falcons, completing nearly 62 percent of his passes for 2,215 yards, seven touchdowns and eight interceptions.
“I’ve obviously had a few bumps along the way,” Harrington said. “Some mistakes I made and some I couldn’t control. They’ve all been learning situations. I think here it gives me the chance to learn from somebody who’s done it well in Drew the last four or five years.
“I was hoping for a situation like this. So I couldn’t be happier.”
The Saints opened training camp with three quarterbacks, but cut Tyler Palko before the regular season and settled on reserve receiver and special teams regular Terrance Copper as their emergency third quarterback.
This week, Copper is out with a pulled hamstring, so the Saints decided to bring in Harrington, who had worked out for New Orleans in Indianapolis, where the Saints practiced during Week 1 to avoid disruptions from Hurricane Gustav.
“Joey is a guy that we’ve kept our eye on,” Payton said. “With Terrance out this week, we addressed that and felt like the timing was right in bringing Joey in here now. He’s a guy that we thought played pretty well for Atlanta last year on tape. He has ability. It’s a good opportunity for him to come in here under guys like Brees and Brunell, learn our system and for us to get a chance to develop and work with him.”
To make room on the active roster, the Saints waived defensive tackle Alvin McKinley.
Meanwhile, Payton also said linebacker Scott Fujita, who missed last week’s game with a bruised right knee, also will sit out at Denver, as will cornerback Aaron Glenn (ankle) and tight end Mark Campbell (hamstring).