<span style="">Catching a break in the clouds and the rain the Saints returned to the practice field this afternoon at Millsaps Stadium. The lights were turned on in the stadium as the dark, low clouds sagged in the Jackson sky with a threatening look to them throughout practice.
Special Visitor: Country music star Kenny Chesney, a close friend of Saints Head Coach Sean Payton, arrived in Jackson this morning on his luxury tour bus and watched the team participate in their walk-through. Chesney, who worked out with the Saints last summer when the team practiced in Cincinnati, donned his #7 Saints jersey this afternoon, a helmet and white receiver gloves and went through drills with the Saints' wide receivers during individual drills.
Chesney shared some laughs and joking around with Drew Brees and Jeremy Shockey before the practice began after he hung out with Reggie Bush following this morning's session. Last year, Payton put Chesney under the gun by putting the former high school football player as the lone punt returner in a drill and told the team that he would give them a day off of practice if Chesney could cleanly field a Steve Weatherford punt. He did, and in the process, gained many new fans on the Saints' roster.Chesney will next perform on Thursday night at the New Orleans Arena before a typical sell-out crowd.
Drills: The squad wore shells (soft shoulder pads) and shorts. With limited contact, the offense naturally has the advantage in turning in bigger plays than the defense. The team, regardless of whether it was first, second or third string, got in and out of the huddles rapidly and practiced at a very high tempo.
Here are the highlights from the practice session:
*Drew Brees threaded a pass into Marques Colston despite tight double coverage.
*Brees connected with RB Reggie Bush a scant second before Will Smith got to Brees.
*Deuce McAllister barreled his way through the middle for a nice gain.
*FB Mike Karney made a nice reception down the sideline.
*QB Mark Brunell hooked up with WR Robert Meachem on a long pass.
*LB Jonathan Vilma knocked a pass down deep down field.
*WR Skyler Green made a nice catch on an out route despite tight coverage from CB Jason Craft.
*CB Tracy Porter pushed WR Lance Moore out of bounds short of the first down sticks.
*Deuce McAllister hauled in a short pass from Drew Brees and snuck his way into the end zone.
*RB Aaron Stecker followed his blockers and found a crease before being met by CB Aaron Glenn.
*RB Pierre Thomas picked up a nice block by back-up C Matt Lehr for a quick hitter in a short yardage drill.
*DT Kendrick Clancy got into the backfield to stop rookie RB Lynell Hamilton.
*WR Kenny Chesney took an end around hand-off and appeared to get to the corner, only to be met by DE Will Smith, who tabbed Chesney lightly with two hands.
The team ended practice with a two-minute, hurry up period with nice receptions by WR Devery Henderson and Lance Moore, as well as a great grab by WR Marques Colston. Defensively S Josh Bullocks turned in a nice pass defensed on a pass intended for WR David Patten.
*CB Jason David intercepted a pass along the sideline and appeared to have a clear path to the end zone for a would-be score.
Practice concluded with Chesney back to receive a punt from Steve Weatherford, but Chesney was unable to hang onto the punt and a groan went up from the players. A re-do was ordered and the same result was turned in. On the third and final opportunity Chesney bobbled the punt, but this time hung on as the players gave him a rousing cheer.