Saints' first press conference of 2010 season recap
The first press conference for the new season went down today at the New Orleans Saints' practice facility in Metairie. I was personally on hand to listen to General Manager Mickey Loomis and Coach Sean Payton discuss the upcoming season and training camp.
Many questions were sure to be asked about a number of great topics, but it was just a truly awesome feeling just to be in there for the start of training camp. A lot of positive feeling in the air as the defending Super Bowl champions are here in New Orleans.
Loomis came out first and immediately advised us all that the "Black and Gold Practice" would be held on August 7 from 2:50 PM until approximately 4:20 PM. Mark your calendars as it is open to the public.
He also let it be known right away that four players are on the Active Physically Unable to Practice (PUP) list. That means they can do everything with the team but field work as they come back from injuries. He expects all four to be fully ready by the first preseason game.
The four players are Robert Meachem, Clint Ingram, Darren Sharper, and Marques Colston. Colston is dealing with some knee issues that started after the end of last season and some general soreness. Ingram is actually returning well from his injuries and looks to be fully healthy within the next couple of weeks as he is ahead of schedule.
Highlights from Loomis' time at the podium:
* Rookie Matt Tennant is excused from practice until Monday due to the passing of his mother.
* Contract discussions with RB Pierre Thomas are ongoing and "cordial," but currently there are no expectations as to when a long-term deal may be done.
* Patrick Ramsey was a target for some time and he likes the experience that he'll bring behind Drew Brees.
* Speaking of Brees, there have been no talks at all as of yet in regards to a contract extension.
* Loomis believes the last rookie unsigned, Patrick Robinson, is close to a deal. "I think we're close and I'd be surprised if it's not done before the weekend is out."
* The NFL labor talks have not truly affected the Saints overall as an organization, but they are paying close attention to the details coming out of them. The Saints have continued to get contracts for current players and sign some new ones so there was no dramatic affect.
* Bobby McCray was cut back in June will all intentions that he was not returning to the team. Loomis advised that they didn't anticipate him coming back but some conversations over the past month realize it was truly a move that made sense.
* Newly acquired defensive end Jimmy Wilkerson is healthy and ready for camp.
* When asked about an upgrade to the defensive front seven, Loomis said the main goal was to improve on the depth the Saints had. They liked being able to bring in veterans such as Wilkerson and Alex Brown as it gives experience after the starters. He wished they had been able to sign another defensive tackle though in the offseason.
* He would have liked to been able to re-sign LB Scott Fujita, but there are plenty of young guys in contention for the open spot mentioning Stanley Arnoux, Jo-Lonn Dunbar, and Jonathan Casillas.
* When asked how the Saints will do when dealing with success, Loomis had a great outlook on things. "We need to see how we handle success in camp. What's our work ethic? What's our intensity?" He compared it to the high-level of intensity brought to last year's camp and expects the same or higher this year.
* In order to improve from last year, Loomis said the defense need to keep up the takeaway pace that was so phenomenal last year defend the run better, and produce more "three and outs."
Sean Payton was up next and began to talk right away about the start of camp. Players got into camp officially on Wednesday night and there was some light running this morning. Tonight will be a walk through with tomorrow beginning two-a-days. He likes that every player is in camp right now (except for Robinson), and the numbers of those at 100% health is more than ever.
More highlights from Payton's time speaking:
* Chase Daniel will be competing with the newly acquired Ramsey for the back-up spot behind Brees. Just because Ramsey has been around longer, don't count out Daniel just yet as he has come a long way.
* When asked if the team will keep three quarterbacks on the active season roster since they are bringing four into camp, Payton merely said, "We'll see."
* He specifically mentioned Malcolm Jenkins, Arnoux, and Dunbar when discussing players that appear to have made some big offseason strides. It'll be interesting to see all the youth in camp this year and how the perform. There will be a few battles in camp and Payton said that "defensively, good competition at the end position."
* Payton touched a little on his book "Home Team," and said that writing it was a "long, unfamiliar process." He enjoyed it but also said it would be a "long time" before another book of his replaced this one on store shelves.
* With Mark Brunell being signed away by the New York Jets, the Saints are now without a placement holder for extra points. Payton said that the quarterbacks will be in line for that spot along with punter Thomas Morstead and a guy like Lance Moore. He doesn't want a player having a gameday jersey just to be a holder but to have earned it.
* As for dealing with the success and pressure of trying to repeat, Payton said the Saints will take nothing for granted and assume nothing. He said he's spoken to many people in the NFL that have given him advice on how to deal with this type of situation. "The more we surround ourselves with guys that have been successful, the more beneficial that is to our team."
* Payton likes training at home but doesn't discount the three years spent at Millsaps in Mississippi. The one big advantage is the indoor training facility to get the guys out of the heat and this year there is a new softer playing surface in there as well. He likes the idea of camp changing places every few years to keep it new.
* Tracy Porter was mentioned as someone coach would like to see more of. He even mentioned that Porter may step in there with some of the wide receivers to try out as a punt returner. Payton also named Rod Harper and how he shined in the preseason last year before his injury so he hopes to see that again.
* Jim Henderson then asked if Payton had seen the new locker room in the Superdome yet and how things have been changed around. Payton had not seen it as of yet but knows he needs to take a tour to get used to it again and may even hold a few practices there to get a good feel of the field.
Overall this was a short, yet informative, first press conference. Payton and Loomis seem to really have a good outlook for the upcoming season and are looking forward to training camp. Frankly, so am I. Camp starts tomorrow morning with the first of two practices open to the public but that is always subject to change.
The "Who Dats" will surely be out in full force and we can now say that the time is almost at hand for the Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints to start defending their title.
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