Photos: Saints go hard in final practice before prized day off at training camp _lowres

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS --Saints DE Akiem Hicks (76) works in defensive drills during the Saints' morning Training Camp practice Monday in White Sulphur Springs, WV.

Veteran Saints defensive end Akiem Hicks lost 20 pounds in the offseason, dropping to 325 pounds to improve his quickness. For the second time this camp, Hicks spoke at length about the weight loss Sunday, plus returning to the field after a minor injury last week.

Was it a game-time decision for you to play?

“We knew I was going to play all week. Just getting ready, warmed up and just getting back into this preseason, trying to move forward.”

Was (missing Thursday’s practice) precautionary?

“I wouldn’t even say precautionary. It was just taking care of what we’ve got to take care of on this end.”

You’ve gotten a few weeks now to play at a lighter weight. Do you feel a difference out there? Do you feel quicker?

“I felt fast at 345, to tell you the truth. But no, it’s definitely a difference, definitely something I focused on this offseason to make sure I came back, and you know, we had a lot of things that didn’t go right last year, and you look at yourself and try to figure out, what things weren’t perfect for you. I thought it was one of the things I could improve about myself, so that’s what we did.”

Was it ever a consideration before to try and lose weight?

“I’ve been playing my entire NFL career at 345, so it was a difference, but I think this is going to work out just fine.”

What are the potential drawbacks of dropping weight? Is there a trade-off?

“I think it depends on the person. I definitely feel my hours being in the weight room, over there (points to Saints weight room while flexing right arm). I think it’s going to come when the games start. We’re going to find out just how well I’m able to acclimate with my size difference.”

Is it also about discipline, making a change?

“I just believe in discipline, and I just felt like that was one of the things I could discipline myself to do in order to have a better opportunity this year.”

--Joel A. Erickson

Injury report

OUT: S Jairus Byrd, RB C.J. Spiller, RB Khiry Robinson, WR Nick Toon, CB Brandon Browner, LB David Hawthorne, LB Anthony Spencer, LB Dannell Ellerbe, LB Ramon Humber, LB Ronald Powell, CB P.J. Williams

LIMITED: S Kenny Vaccaro, WR Lance Lewis

Next three up

Monday: Saints take day off.

Tuesday: 8:50 a.m.-11:40 a.m. CT, New Orleans Saints facility, Metairie.

Wednesday: 8:50 a.m.-11:40 a.m. CT, New Orleans Saints facility, Metairie.