White Sulphur Springs, W. Va. – The completion of the second day of a two-day, joint training camp practice with the New England Patriots on Thursday at The Greenbrier inched the New Orleans Saints one step closer to traveling back to New Orleans to continue camp and to play Saturday's preseason home opener against the Patriots at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Too, it inched the Saints another day closer to becoming the team they hope to be, players said.
"Just a chance to go against somebody else, see a different scheme, work on some stuff we needed to work on," defensive tackle Kevin Williams said. "We've gone against our offense for three weeks now, and to get a chance to get a jump on these guys before we go into the preseason (game), it'll be able to help us out – especially the young guys."
By all accounts, the third time that the Saints and Patriots have engaged in a joint practice was a productive one, highlighted by the professionalism of the teams and underscored by the absence of bickering among players.
"Going against a guy like (New England cornerback) Malcolm Brown, some of those guys that are smaller over there, they're a little different than the corners that I'm going up against every day.
"(Saints cornerbacks) Brandon Browner, Keenan Lewis, I guess you could say are bigger in stature. (Patriots cornerbacks) are more my size, so it was definitely a good feel to be able to go against someone who's that shifty."
Said guard Jahri Evans: "It's still early, still the beginning. We're out here working hard with the goal to get better every day. We have a little bit of time before the regular season starts, so we're trying to get better every day.
"I think we're progressing. That's what our goal is, to progress.
"I think we had a good day. I think we were better today than we were (Wednesday). And now our objective is to take it to gameday."
Gameday is in New Orleans, and that's where the Saints will be Friday, after a final walkthrough practice in West Virginia.
"I think it's been really good for us," receiver Marques Colston said of the team's second straight training camp at The Greenbrier. "It's given us a chance to be away and really gel and come together as a team. I think it's been an overall good experience for us."
And, perhaps, the best part of the experience was the opportunity to work against the reigning Super Bowl champion Patriots.
"It's huge," Colston said. "We go against the scout team but it's almost impossible to duplicate the reps that we got out here today, whether it's the different looks, the speed or the intensity of the rep. It's very valuable."
Photos from the New Orleans Saints and New England Patriots joint practice on August 20, 2015. Photos by Richard Crank. (New Orleans Saints photos)