TODAY: Today the Saints will take the practice field at Ochsner Sports Performance Center for an unpadded workout that is scheduled to last nearly three hours, starting at 8:50 a.m.
FORMAT: Training camp practices traditionally begin with a 30-minute walk through, having players go through team plays at a light jog, as an extension of the classroom work the afternoon and evening before. Following walk through, the team is put through a stretching period focused on core body parts and making the body ready to begin full football activities. Following individual periods, the different position groups come together for several team periods, along with special teams periods and breaks sprinkled in.
TRANSACTIONS: The Saints signed defensive tackle Ziggy Hood, cornerback T.J. Green and linebacker Josh Martin, waived/injured defensive tackle Kenny Bigelow Jr. and waived wide receiver Chad Hansen. Hood will wear jersey number 76, Green will wear 36, and Martin will wear 54.
SPECIAL GUESTS: Two Saints legends will make appearances at practice today. Safety Roman Harper, who was a second round draft pick of the Saints in 2006 out of the University of Alabama will be at practice. For nine seasons, Harper played in 124 games with 108 starts for the Saints and posted 775 tackles (548 solo), 17 sacks, the most by a Saints defensive back, seven interceptions, 53 passes defensed, 13 forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and 44 special teams stops. Harper will also be doing some analyst work for WDSU-6 this morning and afternoon. Wide receiver/return specialist Michael Lewis will meet with fans and sign autographs prior to practice. Lewis, a New Orleans area native, is the club's all-time leader in punt return yards (1,482), kickoff return yards (5,903) and combined kickoff/punt return yards (7,385). In 2002, Lewis set an NFL record that still stands today with 2,432 combined kickoff/punt return yards, three brought back for scores. Lewis was inducted into the Saints Hall of Fame in 2015. Former Saints Head Coach Jim Mora will be visiting practice along with Harper as a special guest, assisting with coverage for WDSU. Mora was hired as head coach of the Saints in 1986 and one season later led New Orleans to their first winning season and first playoff appearance. In 1991, Mora led the Saints to the franchise's first division title. Overall, his 93 career wins and four postseason appearances rank second in club record books. Another special guest today will be NFL Network analyst Steve Smith Sr., who was a standout at wide receiver as a member of the Carolina Panthers (2001-13) and Baltimore Ravens (2014-16). In 16 NFL seasons, Smith played in 2019 games and posted 1,031 receptions for 14,731 yards (14.3 avg.) with 81 touchdowns and was selected to five Pro Bowls. In 24 games against the Saints as a member of the Panthers (2001-13) and Baltimore Ravens (2014), Smith posted 103 receptions for 1,582 yards (15.4 avg.) and 11 touchdowns, also rushing for a touchdown and bringing back a punt for a score. Smith will be at practice today for NFL Network coverage of the practice and to interview several Saints players.
NEWCOMERS: Among the most anticipated newcomers on the Saints roster is tight end Jared Cook, who was signed as an unrestricted free agent from Oakland in March. Originally a third round draft pick who was selected in the third round of the 2009 NFL Draft by the Tennessee Titans out of South Carolina, Cook's appeared in 149 career games with 77 starts, recording 425 receptions for 5,464 yards (12.9 avg.) and 25 touchdown grabs. In 2018, Cook set career-highs across the board in his final season with the Raiders in receptions (68), receiving yards (896) and touchdowns (six), as he was named to his first career Pro Bowl. Cook will be a welcome target for QB Drew Brees among his arsenal of weapons in 2019 and their chemistry will be something to watch on "opening day".
DID YOU KNOW: Many players will drink beet juice prior to practice. It boosts stamina and improves blood flow. Beets are rich in natural chemicals called nitrates. Through a chain reaction, bodies change nitrates into nitric oxide, which in turn helps with blood flow and blood pressure.
STAT OF THE DAY: Brees enters the 2019 season with 520 career touchdown passes. With 20 touchdown passes, he would surpass Peyton Manning to become the NFL's all- time scoring throws leader. In 2019, Brees will also become the first Saint to play 14 seasons for the club.
TOMORROW: On Saturday, the Saints will again take to the Ochsner Sports Performance Center fields at 8:50 a.m. for an unpadded workout before they finally put the pads on for the first time in training camp Sunday.