this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; By Brady Aymond Gannett News Service JACKSON, Miss. - After a week of teaching, running and more teaching, the New Orleans Saints turned their attention to game preparations Thursday. With the preseason opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers three days away, ...
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Saints preparing for first exhibition on Sunday
By Brady Aymond
Gannett News Service
JACKSON, Miss. - After a week of teaching, running and more teaching, the New Orleans Saints turned their attention to game preparations Thursday.
With the preseason opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers three days away, the Saints are going to use today's final practice to game plan for the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio, on Sunday.
"We finished practice in pads (Thursday morning) with an emphasis on installation," head coach Sean Payton said. "We'll practice again this afternoon and then after that practice we'll begin installing the game plan for Pittsburgh so these guys can hone in on exactly what we want to use and what we want to get done in this first game.
"(Today) we'll have morning meetings, back off the morning practice and adjust it to an afternoon practice only. The morning will consist of meetings and weights with a lunch and an afternoon practice devoted to Pittsburgh."
The Saints will leave camp Saturday and fly to Canton to face the Steelers in a 7 p.m. kickoff on NFL Network.
"We're looking forward to a change already," defensive end Charles Grant said. "Just to go against somebody else is different. Camp is good because it's all about football, but getting out and playing the game is what we do."
Payton said the first unit is scheduled to get approximately 12-to-15 plays, with some of the veterans getting slightly fewer snaps.
"The thought still is somewhere in that 15-play range, maybe a quarter or less, depending on the number of snaps in the first quarter," Payton said. "I might back off a few guys and a few of the veteran players. I might back off Deuce (McAllister) some. I might back off a guy like Jay Bellamy or a guy like Fred Thomas - some of those guys who have played in the league eight years or more.
"Hollis (Thomas) will receive some snaps. Guys like David Patten might be 8-to-10 snap guys, as I work some of the younger guys in. My thought is to give 15 plays to the starters and then go from there. We're going to meet on that matter (Thursday night) as it pertains to the second group and the third group. The starters can expect anywhere from a dozen to 16 plays."
Controlling the weather
Reporters at Saints camp have a running joke that Payton made a "deal with the devil" to keep Millsaps College dry - and hot.
Prior to the team's arrival, the tiny college in Jackson suffered through a couple weeks of steady rain. But since the Saints stepped foot on campus, wet weather has stayed away.
Even on Wednesday when the entire city of Jackson seemed to be experiencing an afternoon thunderstorm, the fields at Millsaps didn't get a drop. Well, at least not until the team had left the field and were comfortably resting in their dorms.
"I think they were really banking on practice being canceled yesterday," Payton said. "And it looked bad all around us. We even had the lightning meter out there measuring how close it was to us."
When asked if Payton had secretly made a Faustian pact, the coach joked that no deal was made, but that the Saints were indeed in control of the weather conditions.
"It's 'The Truman Show,'" Payton said with a chuckle. "You've seen that movie (with Jim Carrey) -that's what we have here. (They're) in there right now keeping it sunny. You want thunderstorms, let us know. Want it to be overcast? We can take care of it.
"But seriously, we've been very fortunate, knock on wood. I know they got a lot of rain before we got here and it was a concern. But so far, we seem to be dodging the weather. We hope it stays this way."
The Saints brought in four more players for workouts Thursday - a pair of offensive linemen and a pair of receivers.
Tim Duckworth and Nick Sobic were the linemen, while Millsaps' own Chris Jackson joined Darius Watts as the receivers getting a look.
"Back to what I said yesterday - it's fairly common during the course of training camp, as well as with other teams, to work out players and evaluate them," Payton said. "We're just trying to find some guys who can help us."