‘Getting ready to build on what we started’: Sean Payton and the Saints get set for training camp _lowres

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON--New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton walks past the defense during warm ups at the Saints training facility during minicamp in Metairie, La. Wednesday, June 15, 2016.

The New Orleans Saints will report to training camp at The Greenbrier on July 27, coach Sean Payton said at the close of the team’s summer schedule Thursday.

The team will bring its players back in three stages. Rookies return to the team facility in Metairie first; injured players return the week before training camp begins; and the rest of the roster reports to camp in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, on July 27.

Training camp opens July 28, and the Saints will travel to New England on Aug. 9 for two practices with the Patriots before their preseason game Aug. 11.

A week later, New Orleans will practice with Houston before the second preseason game Aug. 20.

“I had talked to Bill O’Brien, and we had set up a tentative date,” Payton said. “We had to wait until the schedule came out. I had talked to Bill Belichick as well, but you aren’t guaranteed those games.”

New Orleans will return to West Virginia between the two joint practices.

“If you’ll notice the space, we play New England on a Thursday, and we don’t play the next game until Saturday,” Payton said. “That gives us a chance to be right back into our schedule for a good four days and then travel. When we travel to Houston, essentially, camp leaves West Virginia and comes to New Orleans.”

For the moment, though, the players have more than a month off before the grind of the season begins.

Payton held a meeting with players before they left the facility Thursday, reminding them to enjoy their offseason with one eye on training camp.

“We’ll just talk about being smart here. We’ll give them the calendar, conditioning test, their assigned weight, a number of things we will discuss, just making sure these next four or five weeks we’re making good decisions,” Payton said.

“When you work really hard like this, it’s important that you continue a routine and you have a plan today for how the next four or five weeks are gonna go and that, all of a sudden, you don’t go two weeks without having done anything.”

New Orleans has been happy with the offseason program, which began in April and concluded Thursday.

“I think we’re coming off a really good offseason. It’s just being smart during this downtime,” Payton said. “Each day we’ve got a p.m. meeting. One day it’s media training, the next day it’s league security. The month of July is always a challenging month with regards to making sure guys stay out of trouble and stay healthy, so I think more towards that. Being smart with the decisions that we all make here and getting ready to build on what we started.”

One arm short

Drew Brees, Luke McCown and Garrett Grayson have taken all the snaps on the Saints’ practice fields this summer.

For the moment, the plan is to continue that workload when the team returns for training camp in West Virginia, although the Saints have discussed adding another quarterback.

“Right now, the plan’s to be at three, and yet, we were just in a meeting last night discussing a fourth,” Payton said. “Don’t ask me who (the fourth) is because we didn’t come to a conclusion, but we were discussing the possibility of having a fourth quarterback.”

If the Saints add another quarterback, they’ll be bringing in a player who could take some of the workload off of the other three during training camp.

“There are some parameters, numbers-wise, that you want at certain positions, and yet you don’t want to bring a player in to get your number count right, and (have to part ways with) a player that might be a decent prospect,” Payton said. “Our numbers right now are close to where we want them. The fourth quarterback would be someone that would allow us, obviously, reps and drills.”

Richardson’s comeback trail

Bobby Richardson returned to practice this week as he continues to work his way back from a hip injury that required offseason surgery.

Richardson, an undrafted free agent, earned a roster spot and started 11 games, missing only the Eagles game because of an injury.

After the season was over, Richardson had to clear up some physical issues.

“Some stuff was bothering me, so I had to get a couple operations,” Richardson said. “I’m coming back, so I’m doing OK.”

Richardson, who is going to get time at both three-technique defensive tackle and closed end in Dennis Allen’s defense, has been happy with the way he recovered.

“I missed OTAs, but I got out there in minicamp to see what I can do, and I felt pretty good,” Richardson said. “I’m getting back to it.”