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Saints start offseason program

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; METAIRIE — It’s back to football at the New Orleans Saints’ training facility for the first time since last preseason. The team’s offseason program got under way Monday as players began weightlifting and conditioning work, and new coach Sean Payton ...

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Old 03-22-2006, 03:53 PM   #1
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Saints start offseason program

METAIRIE — It’s back to football at the New Orleans Saints’ training facility for the first time since last preseason.

The team’s offseason program got under way Monday as players began weightlifting and conditioning work, and new coach Sean Payton and his staff began getting to know the players.

Payton wouldn’t say Tuesday how many players are on hand, but said he was satisfied with the group, which he met with for the first time Monday.

“The focal point initially is the weightlifting and the running,� Payton said. “I think our players, certainly our coaching staff, understand the importance of the offseason program. The object and the goal is to put them in condition to be ready for the upcoming mini-camps and upcoming season.�

For the next 12 weeks, the players work out Monday through Thursday with Friday being used as a makeup day. The team will conduct two veteran minicamps (April 7-9 and June 2-4) and one rookie minicamp (May 13-15).

“I think what you’re trying to do as a head coach is make them understand the investment and what it takes to be successful,� Payton said. “You try to basically explain to them that this is what we have at stake. Here’s the offseason program. Here’s the outline for it and I think attendance here has been pretty good in the past.�

The program is supervised by strength and conditioning coach Dan Dalrynple, who worked with Payton for two seasons at Miami of Ohio.

“Each of the workouts starts with a stretch, then a lift and then a conditioning, some type of cardio or agility run at the end of the weights and that’s what we’re doing right now,� Payton said. “We’re generally running three groups a day.

“Coaches will be available in a support mode, but at the same time, I think it’s important that a player when he arrives to work out and run doesn’t feel like he’s coming to practice. I think it’s important that the player feel he’s coming here to get in better shape and that’s something that I stressed to the team in the team meeting.�

Payton said he has met with “50 to 60 percent of the team� individually.

“When we first came here, there might have been seven or eight players in the region within a 50-mile radius of the facility,� Payton said. “A lot of them were living elsewhere, so the nice thing about this is it marks the first time where everyone’s coming back, they’re back in this area.

“It’s good to have them back and around, around the building and I know our coaching staff’s excited they’re back.�

A few players, including running back Deuce McAllister, were already at the facility rehabbing from surgery. McAllister missed the last 11 games of last season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee.

“The ultimate goal is to be ready for training camp and not be limited at all,� McAllister said.

McAllister said his rehabilitation work had been last 2‰-3 hours per day, but has expanded to 4‰-5 with the beginning of the offseason program.

“You come home tired and you go to bed tired,� McAllister said. “There’s a little swelling in the knee and it’s sore at times, but that’s to be expected. It’s not to the point where it hinders me so I can’t do something the next day.�

McAllister said he has something to prove to doubters who wonder if he can regain his Pro Bowl form in 2006, if ever.

“I’ve heard the whispers that it takes 18 months or years to come back,� he said, “that I’m a question mark about being 100 percent, that I’m over the hill. That adds a little fuel to the fire.

“That helps me when I’m running uphill for the 18th or 19th time. It helps me do that extra sprint. I have supreme confidence in my ability.�

McAllister said he plans to play lighter than he did last season when he was listed at 232 pounds.

Payton said the Saints will continue to be active in free agency. He said they will sign another quarterback before training camp, but he was unsure if it would happen before the first minicamp.

With Aaron Brooks having been released and Drew Brees still weeks away from being able to throw, only Todd Bouman and Adrian McPherson are available to throw passes.

Payton said he probably will go to USC when the Trojans’ top draft-eligible players, including running back Reggie Bush and quarterback Matt Leinart, work out for NFL personnel. He said he might attend as many as two other on-campus “pro days.�

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