Free safety Jairus Byrd may be limited throughout the Saints’ offseason training program, according to coach Sean Payton.
Byrd, who had trouble recovering from the torn meniscus that ended his first season in New Orleans and missed the first three games last year, is doing some work, but he’s been held out of full-team action.
“We expect him to be ready when training camp starts,” Payton said. “Right now, he’s getting walk-through snaps and work off to the side.”
Byrd played in the final 13 games for the Saints last season, making 53 tackles, while breaking up three passes and pulling in an interception.
Injuries have plagued Byrd since he signed a six-year, $54 million contract with the Saints in 2013, but Payton said he isn’t concerned about Byrd’s injury.
“He’s going through his rehab,” Payton said. “It’s right on schedule, so it’s nothing different than what was expected.”
Byrd was not the only Saint working on a limited schedule Thursday. Byrd, wide receiver Brandin Cooks, tight end Jack Tabb and defensive end Kasim Edebali worked out off to the side. Defensive end Mitchell Loewen, safety Jamarca Sanford, wide receiver Tommylee Lewis and fullback Sione Houma rode bikes. Cornerback Keenan Lewis, defensive end Cam Jordan and defensive end Davis Tull did not participate in team drills. Undrafted offensive lineman Avery Young was not spotted at practice.
Clear the mechanism
Drew Brees is famously unflappable, able to compartmentalize everything swirling around him and center in on the task at hand.
For that reason, after a decade together, Payton knows the unresolved nature of Brees’ contract won’t affect the quarterback’s preparation for the season.
“I think he does that extremely well,” Payton said. “He’s someone that’s extremely focused. Been sharp here these three days.”
Brees and the Saints have not discussed a potential contract extension in the past couple of months, aside from a brief discussion when Pro Bowl cornerback Josh Norman was available.
For the moment, Brees is headed into the final year of his deal with a $30 million salary cap hit, but both the quarterback and the club have expressed interest in locking down the best player of franchise history through the end of his career.
If no extension is reached by the start of the season, Brees will wait until the end of the 2016 campaign to resume talks, in order to focus on the task at hand.
“I would say it’s been a strength of his, just in regards to playing,” Payton said. “The ability to focus, whatever situation we’re in.”
The Saints could hold joint practices with multiple teams during training camp this season.
“We’ve talked with a couple teams,” Payton said. “At some point, I’m sure, when we iron out the final training camp schedule, we’ll announce it.”
Two teams on the Saints’ preseason schedule seem like obvious choices. The New England Patriots, a frequent partner that has practiced with the Saints three times in the past six years, and the Houston Texans, a potential joint partner before agreeing to HBO’s “Hard Knocks,” are the first two teams on the preseason slate.