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Saints wrap up with Carthon; Payton arrives

NEW ORLEANS (Jan. 11, 2006) -- Cleveland Browns offensive coordinator Maurice Carthon says the rebuilding process from Hurricane Katrina would not deter him from taking the Saints head coaching job -- if it were offered to him.

Carthon, a former New York Giants player who considers Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick among his coaching mentors, wrapped up formal interviews on with New Orleans, which has had a coaching opening since firing Jim Haslett the day after the regular season.

Carthon also has been mentioned as a candidate for the head coaching jobs at Detroit and Green Bay. Meanwhile, Dallas Cowboys quarterbacks coach Sean Payton arrived to meet with the Saints the night of Jan. 11 and the following morning.

Like Jets defensive coordinator Donnie Henderson, who interviewed in New Orleans earlier this week, Carthon said the city is rebuilding and the team has a chance to win.

"My heart goes out to what everyone went through here," Carthon said. "The main thing is that this is an opportunity for me and its a great opportunity."

One of the first decisions the new coach will have to make concerns the future of quarterback Aaron Brooks, who started for most of six up-and-down seasons before being benched for the final three games of 2005.

Carthon wasn't ready to say whether Brooks should stay or go.

"I don't like to comment on things that I don't know or haven't studied. I'm not one of these guys who automatically has a wand in his hand and can tell you about a player," Carthon said.

Carthon said his personality is not much like that of Parcells, but he shares similar philosophies with his former coach.

"I believe in toughness, I believe in smart guys. I believe in staying away from penalties," Carthon said. "When you are coached by Parcells and Belichick and Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel and all those guys out there now, as a player and then as a coach, you learn all those things and its the reason that you win football games."

The Saints front office has been taking coaches to dinner and showing them the parts of New Orleans that are beginning to thrive again, as well as those parts heavily damaged by Katrina.

"The thing that surprised me in terms of what happened here months ago -- then you go downtown -- it's looking like a city that's going to come back," Carthon said. "I was real surprised about how fast everything has picked up downtown and I was kind of encouraged."

Carthon said he also would enjoy the interaction with New Orleans fans, whom he remembered from his playing days in the NFC.

"These people are behind this football team," Carthon said. "Other than Mardi Gras, it's the Saints, so I was excited about coming here."

The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2006, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved

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