Deke: Loomis and Payton weigh the variables at Saints camp
by Deke Bellavia,posted Jul 25 2014 8:55AM
If people back home get the idea that the Saints are practicing at a big time facility, they are right. “This is an incredible place. This is as nice a venue as any team in any sport can be holding camp at,” said Saints Color Analyst Hokie Gajan.
The Greenbrier is all that and then some but why exactly did the Saints come up here to have training camp? “First of all, we wanted to do something different,” said Saints GM Mickey Loomis. “I think it energizes your players and your staff when you do something different every three or four years. The second thing was that we wanted to get to a place with a better climate and see if that impacted our team in terms of soft-tissue injuries and some of the other things that we did. Those were the two factors in why we wanted to change venues, and once we got a look at this region and this area, it made a lot of sense for us.”
The Saints will practice at the Greenbrier for about three weeks before coming back to the Big Easy for their first home preseason game against the Titans on August 15.
The Cajun Cannon fired off a few questions at today’s opening press conferences held by Loomis and coach Sean Payton. Bobby asked Mickey if he thought that this Saints team might be the best team in Saints history, as some people are claiming that. Loomis is not buying into it: “I don’t pay a lot of attention to that, because no one said that in 2009 when we won the Super Bowl. They weren’t saying we had the best roster that year, and yet, in my mind, that was the best result the Saints have ever had. That was our best team ever, right? I don’t pay a lot attention to that.”
Loomis continued by saying that the Saints have to get things done on the field. “You still have to come together as a team, you need to have the right chemistry, you have to have the right things happen for your club. There are just so many variables that your roster on paper is just kind of meaningless to us at this point. We like our team. We like the guys we have in our locker room. We love our coaching staff. I feel like we’ve got a great chance to compete going into this training camp, but there are a lot of variables.”
Coach Payton spoke to the media for nearly forty minutes answering a variety of questions. When asked if he thought his team had carried any momentum with them from the off season work, he said “the way the springs are set up now for every team, you have a harder gauge because of the OTA work. I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad thing, it just is what it is. You don’t have as many practice snaps, and you’re never in pads. It’s hard to come out of the spring and say ‘I feel like the team’s here.’ How many times did you guys ask a question in the spring and I said, ‘Well, we have to wait until we get the pads on?’ Khiry (Robinson) was a great example. If you asked me last year at this time how I felt about his progress coming out of the spring, it was okay. All of the sudden the pads came on (and) he was a different type runner than we expected, and that kind of defined him."
"I think the same can be said for your team a little bit, until you really begin the process of getting into a scrimmage and playing your first preseason game. Marques Colston is another great example. His spring compared to the training camp in ’06 his rookie year where he earned a starting job were two totally different experiences for him… one positive and one negative. So as a team, I think that’s going to begin to unfold now. It’s a little bit harder for a head coach to gauge where you’re at. The first thing you look at is your health, and I feel pretty good about that. The ability to sign Jimmy, those things that you can control during the offseason and begin to kind of get ready for what is the start of training camp. If that’s a fair answer, I think it’s more challenging now.”
The Cajun Cannon is stoked bout the start of camp. “I do get excited this time of year. This is the start of a new season and expectations are high. There are some good battles that will take place at various positions and once the team gets into pads things will really heat up.”
So now the main goal of finding the best 53 players begins with the first practice of training camp upon us. Over the next four weeks the Saints will try to find the right mix of players that can come together and be a part of what is expected to be a very good season.