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this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; After several grueling weeks at Millsaps, the Saints return home where they can get into their regular-season routine while using their indoor facility to escape the elements Wednesday, August 22, 2007 By Jimmy Smith Home, sweet home. If their time ...

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Old 08-22-2007, 05:53 PM   #1
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After several grueling weeks at Millsaps, the Saints return home where they can get into their regular-season routine while using their indoor facility to escape the elements

Wednesday, August 22, 2007
By Jimmy Smith


Home, sweet home.

If their time at Millsaps College in Jackson, Miss., provided the foundation, the Saints on Tuesday began laying the bricks in what they hope will serve as the basis for their most successful season by holding two practices at their practice facility on Airline Drive.

"I'd definitely think you establish a mindset when you go off to training camp," quarterback Drew Brees said between workouts. "You're in a different location, far away from home. You try to eliminate distractions, come together as a team, try to take this offense and our whole philosophy to a next level. But man, it's nice to come home, have another training camp away under our belt. I feel good about where we're at.

"We've been able to stay healthy for the most part. We've got some guys who are banged up coming back soon. We're really starting to get into that game-mode kind of mindset.

"And when you get back here, you get back in a routine. This is our facility. This is where you're going to be the entire year. You start getting into your meeting room. You get into that routine, which I think is huge."

Saints Coach Sean Payton teased his players Tuesday morning, making them work outside in the heat and humidity before a planned, helmet-and-pads practice in the team's climate-controlled indoor facility.

A coach who thrives on habit and order, Payton is taking the first steps this week at preparing his team for its regular-season routine as it is scheduled to play on three consecutive Thursday nights, an unusual occurrence in a league that plays the bulk of its regular-season games on Sundays.

"Transitioning is always difficult at first because you're traveling, and logistically players are getting into their housing," Payton said. "We all look forward to getting into a routine, and one positive is that we play a Thursday game, and then we play another Thursday game, and then we open the season on Thursday.

"So really beginning with this Thursday's game, Friday will be everything we would do on a Monday schedule. Saturday will be the players' day off; Sunday will be everything we would do on a Wednesday, and so on. Basically we have two weeks to do that, which I think is helpful. But it's good to get back here and have the flexibility to go inside if we need to."

A year ago, because of ongoing, post-hurricane renovations at the Superdome, the Saints played their entire exhibition schedule outside of New Orleans with games in Nashville, Tenn.; Shreveport; Jackson and Kansas City, Mo., breaking training camp at Millsaps after a four-week stay and coming back to Airline Drive for the first time two weeks before the Sept. 10 regular-season opener at Cleveland.

"Don't remind me," said cornerback Mike McKenzie. "But now it's business as normal. You get out of the camp mind-frame of being in dorms and get into a regular schedule. For that, most of the players definitely appreciate going home and sleeping in their own beds and coming in to work like it was a regular work week. Now we're back in New Orleans and we're just taking care of business as normal."

That means more of a regular-season routine, a comfort zone to which players become accustomed.

"Being back in New Orleans gives you a lot more flexibility," said cornerback Fred Thomas. "Instead of getting out and practicing and going straight to your (dorm) room, you can get some things done on a personal level."

But running back Deuce McAllister, never one to look ahead, pointed out that Tuesday's two practices are an indication that the Saints are still working in a training-camp approach.

"We're not into a regular-season (schedule) yet," McAllister said. "But it feels normal, though. We were pretty much on the move last year because of the situation. We know what to expect now."

And the expectation of that opening night against the Colts 15 days away is beginning to take root.

"I think there's always that anticipation of the start of the regular season. And as that draws near, the anticipation grows. That being said, there is still quite a bit of competition for some of these roster spots, and we've got a lot of things that we need to clean up before we start the regular season. That's why we're practicing and playing these preseason games."

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