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The New Orleans Saints moved quickly to find a replacement for long snapper Jon Dorenbos, who will require open heart surgery to repair an aortic aneurysm.
The Saints signed defensive lineman/long snapper Zach Wood to a contract after the team placed Dorenbos on the non-football illness list Friday with a heart condition discovered in a follow-up physical following his trade from the Philadelphia Eagles.
Wood's agent, Mike Abadir, confirmed Wood's signing and offered congratulations on Twitter on Friday night: "Congrats to my client LS @ZachWood6 for signing w the Saints! At the same time, prayers go out to multi-talented @JonDorenbos. #JonDorenbos."
The Saints also worked out long snappers John DePalma, Colin Holba, Jeff Overbaugh and Tanner Purdum after Dorenbos' diagnosis, according to reports.
The 6-foot-3, 255-pound Wood entered the league in 2016 as an undrafted free agent out of SMU. Wood, 24, signed with the Dallas Cowboys after a successful tryout in rookie minicamp that year and spent time with the team the past two offseasons both as a long snapper and defensive lineman.
Dorenbos' trade from the Eagles and subsequent physical was a life-saver discovered on Thursday by the Saints' physician, Dr. John Amoss, coach Sean Payton told reporters.
"This is a pretty serious condition and not only will it require open-heart surgery, it's going to require it pretty quickly," Payton said Friday. "Dr. Amoss is the one that discovered it and basically saved his life with his findings. So he did further tests and evaluations and we met twice (Thursday). Certainly, news like this is a big alert for him."
The Saints traded a 2019 seventh-round pick for the 37-year-old Dorenbos on Aug. 28. The current situation could rescind the transaction.
"That will handle itself," Payton said. "In other words, this is a pre-existing condition and this is something that genetically he had at birth."
Dorenbos becomes the second Saints player to deal with a heart condition. Defensive tackle Nick Fairley landed on the NFI list in June after the discovery of an enlarged heart.
Dorenbos was set to enter his 16th season. He spent the past 11 years with the Eagles after starting his career with the Buffalo Bills and Tennessee Titans. With the Eagles, he appeared in a franchise-record 162 consecutive regular-season games and earned two Pro Bowl berths.
"I can't speak for Philadelphia or the other teams he's been with, but I do know that that's something that came up on our physical," Payton said ahead of Monday night's season opener against the Minnesota Vikings. "There's a blessing to it in some regards regarding him. Finding an aneurysm this size, it's something that will require immediate surgery and credit Dr. Amoss. He was the first one that kind of caught the red flag."
The popular player among teammates and fans is also known for his talents as a magician, making television appearances and becoming a finalist on the NBC show "America's Got Talent" in 2016. Dorenbos turned to magic in his childhood as a way to deal with a family tragedy when his father murdered his mother when he was 12.