Steve: From the podium at Saints camp
The first practice of Saints training camp is in the books! The big story today was the cool, manageable temperature in West Virginia, and safety Jarius Byrd being placed on the physically unable to perform list.
Coach Sean Payton said of Byrd that he should be back sooner than later. They are just being cautious with him, and want to make sure he is 100% before he returns to any on-the-field action. Byrd had back surgery this offseason and missed all of organized team activities and mini-camp. The Saints gave him a $5 year 54 million dollar deal when the free agency period opened.
Payton added that he felt the first practice was sharp. While players were not in pads, he added it was good to see guys moving around well.
Joe Morgan is one of those players moving around well. Payton said the speedy receiver has really recovered well from knee surgery that was a lot worse than anyone really thought.
The $40 million dollar man Jimmy Graham also spoke today for the first time since cashing in on his 4 year deal. He said, “You don't know how much you miss it till you're away for that amount of time.” The big TE was absent all of OTAs and minicamp while waiting for a contract.
Graham says he is happy that’s all behind him now and he can focus on the team and the season. There are no hard feelings between him and management. Graham just looks at it as if he was on an extended vacation, but is now back and ready to go.
Jonathan Vilma actually played a big role in Graham’s condition while being away from the Saints. The former Black and Gold linebacker worked out with Jimmy in Miami the entire time and even served as a therapist; guiding him though the tough times of contract negations.
Quarterback Drew Brees shared everyones joy over the change of scenery for this training camp. The first thing he said to the media was, “This is unbelievable here, ain't it?” Brees added it was the first time ever at a training camp he was able to lay down in the grass and it was actually cool.
Brees did say the timing between he and Graham needs to be worked on, since the duo missed some time together during his contract holdout. He added, “Jimmy is Jimmy” and the TE is definitely in shape, as he registered the fastest time in the team's condition test.
Rookie receiver Brandin Cooks had an impressive grab - when asked about it #9 lit up and grinned, saying Cooks is talented and intelligent. The WR wants to be great, and is a sponge when it comes to soaking up input from players and coaches.
For anyone worrying about Brees getting up there in age now that he’s 35 years old; don’t be. He says he feels like he’s 25 and wants to play another 10 years. That is a real goal. Brees feels age is just a state of mind.