Saints rookie LB Rufus Johnson, drafted from D-II, take the field with his father in mind

Rookie linebacker Rufus Johnson hopes his journey from Division II to the NFL with the Saints is boosting his ailing father's morale.

While many Saints were preparing to enjoy a weekend off following Thursday's final practice of minicamp, Johnson planned to fly home to Dallas to see his father in a hospital. Johnson declined to say why Rufus Sr. is hospitalized.

The 6-foot-5, 272-pound Johnson, drafted in the sixth round out of Tarleton State, about 100 miles southwest of Dallas. Johnson is the latest example of the Saints hoping to mine small college programs for big-league talent.

Saints college scouting director Rick Reiprish says Johnson looks like a good fit for the Saints' new defense.

Johnson says his desire to help his family drives him to maximize his talent.