Photos: Events from the Saints practice on Sunday at The Greenbrier _lowres

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Saints safety Rafael Bush works in defensive drills at training camp in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va. Three years after being claimed by the Saints off waivers, Bush has stepped into a leadership role in the secondary.

Former New Orleans Saints safety Rafael Bush is moving on after signing a 1-year, $2.4 million deal with the Detroit Lions, a source confirmed to The Advocate.

Bush, whom the Saints were interested in bringing back, visited the Lions on Friday, and he projects as a possible starter in Detroit’s backfield. In New Orleans, he would have been the third safety behind Kenny Vaccaro and Jairus Byrd.

“To the city of New Orleans thank you,” Bush wrote in a goodbye posted on his personal Instagram account. “I enjoyed my time there and I met some really good peoples and teammates that I can call brothers for life outside of football.”

Brought in by New Orleans four years ago, Bush has been a capable safety, making 56 tackles in 10 games in 2014.

But his past two seasons have ended with a broken leg and a torn pectoral muscle, and now Bush will have a chance to prove himself in Detroit.

“I cherish the memories good and bad,” Bush continued. “(It) shapes us into the people we are supposed to be. God gave me a vision and all I’m trying to do is pursue that goal and nothing will get in my way.”

New Orleans is reportedly in the mix for former Buccaneers safety Chris Conte, along with Tampa Bay and the Giants, as a potential replacement at the position.

Pro Day trail

Free agency is in full swing, but the Saints still have plenty of work to do preparing for the NFL draft at the end of April, particularly with schools holding Pro Days around the country. And while General Manager Mickey Loomis handles free agency, the coaches are on the draft trail.

A large Saints contingent, including Sean Payton, the defensive staff and assistant general manager Jeff Ireland had dinner with cornerback Mackensie Alexander, defensive ends Shaq Lawson and Kevin Dodd, and several other Clemson teammates on Wednesday night, multiple sources told The Advocate.

Jayron Kearse, a 6-foot-4, 216-pound safety, told local reporters at Clemson that he has an official visit set up to the Saints, along with the Buccaneers, Lions, Jaguars and Steelers.

Kearse, the nephew of former NFL defensive end Jevon Kearse, started 29 games over three seasons and made 184 tackles, 12 tackles-for-loss, three sacks and seven interceptions.

New Orleans also had strong contingents at Alabama’s Pro Day on Wednesday and Ohio State’s on Friday. The Saints interviewed wide receivers Michael Thomas and Braxton Miller at Ohio State, according to sources, and reportedly interviewed linebacker Darron Lee and safety Tyvis Powell as well.