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Pro football: Kenny Stills proving he belongs in the NFL

The former OU receiver is making an impression with the New Orleans Saints
BY MIKE BALDWIN, Staff Writer, Modified: August 16, 2013 at 3:00 pm •  Published: August 15, 2013

/articleid/3872463/1/pictures/2184302">Photo - New Orleans Saints wide receiver Kenny Stills (84) during their NFL football training camp in Metairie, La., Tuesday, July 30, 2013. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) ORG XMIT: NYOTK
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Kenny Stills (84) during their NFL football training camp in Metairie, La., Tuesday, July 30, 2013. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) ORG XMIT: NYOTK

But his style, as much as his stats, stood out. Some viewed Stills' “confidence” as swagger. His bleached blonde Mohawk was an attention grabber. Tattoos represented a new generation.

“I was just being myself. I'm not too worried about anything else,” Stills said. “I took care of business in the classroom and on the field. That's all that should have mattered even though I got into a little trouble when I was younger.”

Trouble ranged from taking a shot at OSU receiver Justin Blackmon on twitter to serving a one-game suspension his sophomore season after he was arrested on a misdemeanor DUI charge earlier that year.

“The older I got the more mature I got,” Stills said. “I began to embrace everything and used it to my benefit. It is what it is. There are a lot of people who wish they had that opportunity (to play college football). It was a blessing to play at OU.”

During his OU career he was occasionally matched against Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro, the Saints' first-round pick.

A key addition to try and upgrade the defense, Vaccaro claims he surrendered only one touchdown pass his entire Longhorn career, a 16-yard fade route to Stills in OU's 28-20 win three years ago.

“I can see them putting Kenny in more packages,” Vaccaro told the Times- Picayune. “Kenny is growing every day. He's so fast. People don't realize how fast he is.”

The Saints are looking for a big-play threat to complement Colston and Lance Moore. Stills, 6-foot, 190, showed at OU he can handle any role — slot receiver, deep threat, boundary receiver, over-the-middle threat.

“This organization saw highlights from college, but I know I need to show them every day that I can play at this level,” Stills said. “This is something I embrace.”

Stills still has the Mohawk.

“There are some guys that have given me a hard time about it,” Stills said. “I'm a little surprised they haven't tried to cut it off (since I'm a rookie).”

The rookie is grateful to play on a team with Super Bowl aspirations.

Last season was a mulligan. Payton was suspended the entire season. The Saints started 0-4, made a late charge but faded to 7-9.

Payton is back, leading a team was 13-3 two years ago, a team that won the Super Bowl four years ago. The defense is suspect. But a team with Brees always has a shot. One of Brees' targets could be Stills.

And his response to those that questioned leaving early?

“To come to a place like this, that's all you can ask for,” Stills said. “Where I was drafted is what it is. People can say what they want. I'm happy with my decision. I'm happy where I am.”


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