WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. —
A new work week means a new level of intensity for the New Orleans Saints training camp at The Greenbrier resort.
The Saints put on full pads for the first time Sunday, and the change in the tenor of the Saints’ practice was palpable. That change will be in evidence again Monday as the Saints make the turn toward their first break of camp.
ABOUT YESTERDAY: The Saints didn’t quite beat a summer thunderstorm that rumbled through The Greenbrier before the end of practice, but they definitely started beating on each other with relish. New Orleans players are still far from tackling to the ground, but Sunday saw an increase in thumping and bumping as a harder edge to their preparations emerged. The play of the day, of the entire camp really, was a spectacular strip-and-tip executed by veteran newcomer Champ Bailey at cornerback and safety Rafael Bush. Bailey, who has already carved a Hall of Fame career with the Denver Broncos and Washington Redskins, raked the ball from fullback Erik Lorig on the right sideline. Bush swooped in and flipped the ball back to Bailey before it could touch the ground, an example of how determined the Saints are to improve on their 19 total forced turnovers from last year. Incumbent kicker Shayne Graham, who played collegiately at nearby Virginia Tech, and newcomer Derek Dimke were both perfect on field goals from 35-38 yards, Graham 3-for-3 and Dimke 4-for-4.
ON TODAY’S AGENDA: The Saints will try to finish their first week of practice with a flourish with workouts today at 7:50 a.m. CDT and a walkthrough session at 4:30 p.m. The team operates on a similar schedule Tuesday before taking a day off Wednesday. Players scheduled to be available for interviews at about 11 a.m. CDT are running back Travaris Cadet, wide receivers Nick Toon and Robert Meachem, tight end Ben Watson, guard/center Tim Lelito, tackle Terron Armstead, Bush and Lorig. Saints coach Sean Payton will also likely again address the media.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: With Kenny Stills and Robert Meachem sidelined with minor maladies, third-year receiver Nick Toon has had his chance to shine early in camp. That opportunity will likely continue Monday with little promise Stills and Meachem will make a quick return. Guard Ben Grubbs was mostly an observer at Sunday’s practice, so it bears watching as to whether he will be back in action Monday as well. Meanwhile, the acquisition of Lorig from Tampa Bay is a strong signal that the Saints are making a more tangible commitment to the running game. Watching how he develops chemistry with the Saints’ tailbacks will also be a point of interest.
Follow Scott Rabalais on Twitter: @RabalaisAdv.