WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. — The New Orleans Saints will soon put the mountains that served as the backdrop to the past three weeks of practices behind them, but the mountains won’t be far from their minds.
By all accounts the first phase of training camp, which was held at The Greenbrier resort in West Virginia, was a success and the Saints are hoping to stick around after their three-year contract expires.
“The setup is outstanding, and the ability to really kind of stay in an enclosed environment,” coach Sean Payton said. “I think the people here have been great. I think everything about it — we’ve starting putting down notes as to maybe changes for next year and it’s less than a page. It’s not a whole lot.”
Payton was pleased with how his team performed in West Virginia, specifically pointing to Tuesday and Wednesday as some of the best practices the team has had.
Wednesday’s session included one of the highlights of camp, a goal-line simulation between the offense and defense that brought about some of the more spirited play of camp. The defense appeared to have the upper hand, but the offense was able to punch in a pair of touchdowns.
Overall, Payton said it is too soon to know if the team accomplished what it wanted to accomplish at The Greenbrier.
“We’re still making progress,” Payton said. “Are we where we want to be right now? It’s hard to tell. We want to see improvement going into this game. I thought the last two days were pretty good practices.”
Ben Grubbs returned to action this week and said lower back pain was the reason he was sidelined for 10 practices.
“Everything felt good enough for me to give it a go (at practice Wednesday),” Grubbs said. “I’m not 100 percent (yet), but I’m working toward that and I’m confident I’ll get there.”
The guard returned to practice this week and took part in some full-team drills Wednesday. Grubbs said he does not know if he will play in Friday’s game against the Titans.
Even though he is on a “day-to-day” schedule, Grubbs is beginning to feel some urgency to get back on the field in a full-time capacity.
“I know that each rep is very valuable,” Grubbs said. “I know even though I’m a veteran and even though I’ve played in a lot of games, I think that preparation is the key and I understand that I need to be out there and that’s what I’m working toward.”
Will he or won’t he
Drew Brees is on his way back from a left oblique injury. The quarterback has ramped up his work in recent practices, even taking part in individual drills Wednesday. But he is yet to take part in team activities and Payton is not sure if Brees will play Friday against the Tennessee Titans.
Luke McCown started last week against the St. Louis Rams with Brees sidelined and played most of the first quarter. Ryan Griffin played the next two, with Logan Kilgore handling the fourth quarter.
The Saints filled out their roster by signing tight end Travis Beckum to a one-year deal Wednesday.
A spot on the roster came open when tight end Richard Quinn retired Monday.
Beckum, 27, caught 26 passes for 264 yards with three touchdowns in four seasons with the New York Giants.
The 6-foot-3, 234-pound Beckum suffered a torn ACL in Super Bowl XLVI and has not played since.
Quinn retired Sunday after spending six days in training camp. Payton said that Quinn decided he no longer wanted to play football.