METAIRIE, La. -- Hardly two years removed from playing college football on a 12-man defence in western Canada, Akiem Hicks is primed to emerge as a full-time starter on an NFL defensive line. Just dont tell him that, because he wont even admit to being encouraged by the fact that he played with the starting unit in the New Orleans Saints preseason opener and is regularly practicing with the first team. "Not yet, because theres so much more to go," said Hicks said, referencing a metaphor defensive line coach Bill Johnson uses about each day of good work amounting to nothing more than a bean in a jar, which has to be full to represent a good season. "I dont have enough beans to be encouraged yet." Maybe not, but his effort in practice on Tuesday certainly seemed worthy of another bean. He was a force in 11-on-11 drills, registering what would have been a sack on Drew Brees if he were allowed to touch the quarterback. Later, during a 2-minute drill, he had two more standout moments. First he batted down one of Brees passes, then he perfectly read a screen pass to Darren Sproles, who Hicks wrapped up for a 4-yard loss in a 2-minute drill. The 6-foot-5 Hicks, who said he now weighs about 330 pounds, is currently playing the left defensive end in co-ordinator Rob Ryans new 3-4 defence (three linemen, four linebackers). Last year as a rookie, drafted in the third round out of the University of Regina (Saskatchewan), Hicks played reserve defensive tackle in a 4-3, then made the transition this year to what Johnson calls "the most physical position on our defence." It wasnt clear whether Hicks would emerge as a starter when 2013 training camp opened because the Saints had signed 11-year veteran defensive lineman Kenyon Coleman, who had played the past two seasons in Ryans 3-4 defence in Dallas. Last week, however, Coleman tore a pectoral muscle, which has likely ended his season. Third-year pro Tom Johnson also is in the mix to start at that spot, though he has missed more than a week of practice with a hip injury. Johnson conceded that Hicks is in position to win the starting job, but stressed that three weeks of evaluation remained. "Thing Ive said all along about Hicks is that hes raw but he has a lot of versatility," Johnson said. "I thought our scouting people did a great job watching him in Canada to know." Hicks, who grew up near Sacramento, was recruited by LSU out of the community college ranks, but an NCAA violation related to financial help provided by an assistant coach left him ineligible to play in the United States, hence his move to Canada, where he thrived as a stand-up defensive end. "What was hard was to evaluate him versus the people he was against," Johnson said. "It wasnt like if he had went to LSU and stayed. You could evaluate him against guys who would potentially be in this league. It was like guys that were just little kids and he was obviously dominating up there." Big NFL offensive tackles can find him tough to block as well. "Hes a good athlete that weighs (330 pounds) that moves like hes 300 or 290," said Saints right tackle Zach Strief, who has to block Hicks in practice. "Thats something pretty God-given thats pretty hard to find." NOTES: RB Pierre Thomas (left leg), OLB Martez Wilson (left elbow) and OLB Junior Galette (left leg) all returned to practice from injuries, participating to varying degrees. Thomas did the most, taking part in seven-on-seven drills. Wilson participated in a "walk-through" and Galette mostly watched. ... Courtney Roby, a veteran special teams leader and reserve receiver, needed help off the field after apparently hurting his left foot. Payton said Roby had a toe injury. He did not get more specific. ... Jerry Romig, who has been the public address announcer for Saints home games since 1969, and who also handled P.A. announcing for the first four Super Bowls in New Orleans, said his last game on the job will be this Fridays home preseason game against Oakland. Romig, 83, said his voice is fine but back problems have made it tough to get around. His 57-year-old son, Mark, who will take over, said his father wants him to show his own personality. But Mark Romig added, "My mother told me I have to do it just like my father." Oliver Bjorkstrand Jersey . However, Therrien added that Galchenyuks status for next Wednesdays game against the Detroit Red Wings is questionable. Galchenyuk has been out since Jan. 6 with a broken right hand. Anthony Duclair Jersey . Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone dismissed Tuesdays massive anti-government protest in Manama as "a lot of kids having a go at the police." "I dont think its anything serious at all," Ecclestone was quoted as saying in The Guardian newspaper on Wednesday. http://www.authenticbluejacketspro.com/R...jackets-jersey/. Lawries batting helmet hit an umpire during his ninth-inning outburst in the Jays 4-3 loss to Tampa Bay on Tuesday. The 22-year-old threw his helmet to the ground and it bounced up and hit home plate umpire Bill Miller on the right hip after Lawrie was called out on strikes for the second out. Artemi Panarin Jersey . The two were in the batting cage moments before game time. Bautista was taking final warm up cuts. Pillar was hitting soft toss. The one-time utility player turned All-Star pulled aside the clubs young, fourth outfielder and offered him some advice. Sergei Bobrovsky Jersey . The Los Angeles Clippers showed them just how ugly that life could be. Jared Dudley scored a season-high 21 points, Chris Paul added 16 points and 17 assists, and the Clippers jumped all over the Bulls in Roses absence for a 121-82 victory Sunday.The Toronto Raptors have dropped two straight and will try to get back on track Wednesday night when they visit the Smoothie King Center to take on the New Orleans Pelicans. The Raptors fell at home to the Phoenix Suns and lost on the road to the Atlanta Hawks during this mini swoon. Torontos lead in the Atlantic Division is just 2 1/2 games over the Brooklyn Nets and the Raptors advantage over the Chicago Bulls for the third seed in the Eastern Conference is down to a half- game. On Tuesday, the Raptors fell in overtime to the Hawks at Philips Arena, 118-113. DeMar DeRozan paced Toronto with 29 points to go along with 10 rebounds and Kyle Lowry contributed 20 points, nine assists and seven rebounds in the loss, their second straight on the road. Jonas Valanciunas, who will miss Wednesdays contest with a back injury, scored 16 points, while Amir Johnson and Terrence Ross each chipped in with 11 points for Toronto. Toronto had the ball with under 20 ticks to play in the extra session and trailed by two when Johnson turned the ball over after an offensive foul. Atlanta sealed it at the free throw line to continue its late season surge to maintain its playoff position. "(In the overtime) we got stops but you got to able to score," said Toronto coach Dwane Casey. "I thought DeMar (DeRozan) did a good job of playing out of tthe double-team they were committed to, had some open looks, but again, you got to knock those down, you got to make those plays and we had trouble doing that.dddddddddddd" The Pelicans halted a two-game slide last time out, a 121-120 overtime victory Sunday night over the Boston Celtics. That pushed New Orleans to 3-2 on this six-game homestand, which comes to an end Wednesday night. Anthony Davis posted 40 points and 21 rebounds to carry the Pelicans. Davis surpassed his career-highs in points and rebounds while also becoming the first player in Pelican history to record a 40-point/20-rebound game. "Im just trying to stay locked in. Every game, coach talks about being great. Anthony Morrow tells me, Be great every game. I just go out there and do the things for us to win. As long as we get the win, thats all that matters to me," said Davis. Tyreke Evans scored 26 and Eric Gordon added 19 points and eight assists for the Pelicans. Evans scored five of his 26 in the extra session to help New Orleans to victory. The Pelicans visit the Hawks on Friday, then play four in a row in the Big Easy. The Raptors have won five straight against the Pelicans, including this seasons only matchup, a seven-point win at the Air Canada Centre on Feb. 10. Toronto is 5-2 in its last seven meetings as the visitor in this series. 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