The idyllic Greenbrier setting the Saints have chosen for training camp dawned a little dreary on Thursday morning as rains moved through the area.
There is no indoor field at the Greenbrier.
But the rains didn’t force the Saints to alter any practice schedules. Both of the Greenbrier’s grass fields held firm, allowing New Orleans to get in a full, regularly scheduled practice despite Mother Nature’s interruption.
“The fields are in great shape,” Saints coach Sean Payton said. “With the rain that we had, the drainage, I wasn’t sure if we were going to have to go down to the lower level field, but both of these fields have held up really well after one day of rain.”
For the most part, the skies stayed clear during the practice itself, save for a half hour of rain in the early portion of practice, before most of the 11-on-11 work.
“First day, always an important day, sets the tone,” running back Mark Ingram said. “Even with the rain. You’ve just got to overcome it. Sometimes we might have to play in rain.”
If the team’s lucky, the rains might push some surprising humidity out of the area. Temperatures for the first few days the Saints have been in West Virginia have been in the high 80’s, with humidity well above 50 percent.
“It’s a little warmer here than it was last year,” Ben Watson said. “I remember it being almost cold in the morning. The rain was unexpected, but it cleared out by the time practice was over.”
Marcus Murphy, the Saints’ seventh-round pick out of Missouri, was given full work in Thursday’s opening practice, taking handoffs, catching passes and handling punts.
Fellow rookies Davis Tull and Antonio Johnson, also on the non-football injury list, both worked with trainers off to the side along with veteran cornerback Brian Dixon, also on the NFI. Marques Colston and Glenn Foster both walked the field in uniform, although Jairus Byrd was not present. All three are on the physically unable to perform list.
Long snapper Justin Drescher, the only other surprise, was placed on the non-football injury list with an undisclosed ailment on Thursday. The Saints signed rookie Chris Highland on Wednesday to fill Drescher’s role in camp.
“Having seen (Highland) snap as a rookie in our minicamp and having some experience then with what he can do, it made it easy when we knew we had to have Justin back off a little bit until he’s healthy,” Payton said. “It gives us a chance to see a young player do in a day-to-day setting.”
Galette gets a sniff
Former Saints pass rusher Junior Galette was scheduled to meet with the Washington Redskins on Thursday, according to ESPN. He’s reportedly received interest from six other teams after being released by New Orleans on Monday following a series of offfield incidents.
His former teammates wished him the best on Thursday. Drew Brees said the team could learn something from Galette’s downfall.
“It is about trust and accountability and each guy has to hold himself accountable and say am I the type of teammate that I would want to have,” Brees said. “And if you ask yourself that and you are not happy with that answer than you need to make some changes for yourself and if you are not willing to make those changes than you don’t belong.”
Five observations from the practice field:
1It appears the Saints are going to lean on Cam Jordan to replace the departed Junior Galette. Jordan spent the majority of the time lined up as a 7-technique defensive end, the role Galette filled last season.
2Undrafted defensive lineman Bobby Richardson caught the eye a few times. He received a few snaps with the first-team defense and recorded a sack.
3Keenan Lewis shined throughout practice. He snatched a pass from Brandin Cooks on a go route and broke up two other passes.
4Brandon Browner blocked a field goal by Zach Hocker. Hocker missed from 35 yards and connected from 37. Dustin Hopkins made all three of his attempts.
5Stanley Jean-Baptiste and Delvin Breaux are working with the second team. Safeties Pierre Warren and Kenny Phillips switched between the second- and third-team defenses.