Brees-ing along: Saints Quarterback Drew Brees returned to practice today in a full capacity. Brees made every throw with zip today while taking part in team drills for the first time in over two weeks, recovering from an oblique strain that held him out of the first two preseason games of the exhibition season. The Saints franchise QB plans to play Saturday night in Indianapolis when the Black and Gold battle the Colts in the third preseason contest of the year. Brees also admitted following practice that he would NOT have been able to play if the injury he sustained was during the regular season.
Byrd getting close: Safety Jarius Byrd is close to returning on a full time basis, and will be at practice tomorrow. Byrd was absent today, and Payton said Byrd is in the process of being cleared for full contact. The Saints signed Byrd to a 6 year $54 million dollar contract in the offseason.
Veterans on the mend: Aside from Brees, a number of Saints veterans were back in the line up in Sunday afternoon’s practice. Linemen Jahri Evans and Ben Grubbs returned, taking every rep in team drills. Wide Reciever Kenny Stills also made his way back on the field after sitting out following a quad injury that held him out of camp after the first practice. WR Marques Colston missed Friday night’s preseason game against the Titans, but like Stills, was back at work. Cornerback Keenan Lewis, who left the Titans game with what looked like a foot injury, worked his way back in practice but was a little more limited, skipping one portion of team drills. It looks like Lewis will be fine.
Climate change: The Saints were reintroduced to the Louisiana heat in their first practice back in Metairie and Payton said the team handled it pretty well “It’s a climate change. Today we had cloud cover, so our practice after a game usually is not as long. We’ll be smart. Something I said, the water breaks will be a little bit longer than they were for the first three weeks. It’s going to be important that we stay hydrated with our legs, getting in the cold tubs, all those things”. You could visible see a difference in the players energy level at the end of practice.
Graham dunk: A lot was made of tight end Jimmy Graham’s two dunks after catching two touchdown passes against the Titans. The two celebrations were flagged by the officials as a personal foul. Sean Payton and Graham exchanged words after the second penalty and Payton elaborated a little more today “He and I met. I’m his biggest fan. I’m sure as we get going here that type of thing won’t be a problem. Rules change constantly whether you like it or not, or whether or not we voted for him. He’s outstanding. He’ll be ready to go. What took place in the meeting will stay between he and I.” Graham said afterwards “Obviously, I would never do that in a regular season game and hurt the team”
Correcting penalties: The Saints were flagged for 22 penalties against Tennessee, prompting Payton to call it “painful to watch” following the game. Payton said correcting those penalties was an emphasis when the Saints returned to practice. “Listen, I know they’re up throughout the league in the preseason, but I know we’re at the top of a preseason schedule. Those are things we have to go through.”