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New Orleans Saints enter first training camp under Coach Dennis Allen with belief they can win now

'This isn't a rebuild'

"I think we can (win). I think our team feels confident in our ability, but there's so many variables that go into a season. But we're not a rebuild. This isn't a rebuild, I guess is the best way to describe it. Yeah, we think we can win now."

Tuesday's pre-training camp news conference isn't the only time that New Orleans Saints Executive Vice President/General Manager Mickey Loomis has outright stated, or alluded to the belief, that the Saints are a team that expects success in its first season under Dennis Allen, the franchise's first head coach since 2006, when Sean Payton was hired.

But just in case anyone missed it, there it is:

The Saints didn't make offseason moves like a team that anticipates a step back in any way, shape or form.

"I would say for the past 16 years, the whole team has taken on the personality of Sean Payton, and that's been a good thing," Loomis said. "I think that your teams do take on the personality of your head coach, and so we'll see how that evolves. Dennis' personality is different. But in terms of being aggressive and playing to win, all those kinds of things, I don't expect that to change.

"I would say (Allen) is a grinder. Set jaw, a little bit of an old-school soul. Tough, tough-minded, maybe a little more conservative – we'll see as he takes the head coach role. But I'm anxious to see how that goes."

So, too, is Allen, who has been a member of the Saints' coaching staff for 12 of the previous 16 seasons.

"I understand the role of the head coach in this city, and it's a little bit different than other places," Allen said. "I understand that, I appreciate that and I welcome that. It's exciting. I know that this city loves this football team and has a close connection with this football team, and I know what it means to this city when we have success. That's a responsibility that we all take on."

Loomis and Allen addressed a plethora of topics as the Saints prepared to take the field for their first training camp practice Wednesday morning at the Ochsner Sports Performance Center.

DON'T DOUBT THOMAS: Receiver Michael Thomas, who enters training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform list, doesn't figure to be there for an extended period. "I don't expect him to be on there very long, but just not quite ready to be full go yet," Loomis said. "But I don't anticipate him being on that list for very long."

WINSTON IS READY: Quarterback Jameis Winston is prepared to take the lion's share of the reps at quarterback as the starter. "I think he's hit all the benchmarks," Loomis said. "We feel good about where he's at physically. We're going to proceed with caution with him, but he's going to be out there practicing and we'll monitor the reps. But we feel good about where he's at with the knee." Allen said he has been impressed with Winston's leadership. "I think more so than anything, the leadership quality that I appreciate the most out of him is work ethic. Because it doesn't matter what you say if you don't back it up with what you do. I think he's got incredible work ethic and I think our guys gravitate to his personality."

PLENTY OF TAYSOM: Allen said that just because Taysom Hill won't exclusively play quarterback, doesn't mean his importance to the Saints will diminish. "I think (Hill's role) is going to be very similar to what we've seen in the past. I think he's going to provide multiple roles for us. There'll be a lot of working with the tight end grouping, but yet, he'll still take some snaps from the quarterback position. We're still going to utilize him in that role. There's still going to be a lot of special teams that he's going to participate in. He's a really good football player, and we want to utilize his skill set. He can help us win football games."

TURNER JUMP: The expectation is that second-year defensive end Payton Turner will provide a boost to the defensive line after his abbreviated rookie season. "I would say we have high expectations for him and yet, we recognize that he had some injury issues last year and hopefully he's overcome that," Loomis said. "He looks good, he's had a good offseason. But we have high expectations for him. I think oftentimes, our expectation is that second year, you're going to see a jump. We had that with Cam Jordan, we've had that with a number of players over the years. So I think our expectations for Year 2 are generally higher than they are for Year 1."

MAYE READY: Safety Marcus Maye, who also was limited this offseason as he rehabilitated from an injury, will be on the field and appears to be full go for training camp. And Allen likes what Maye and fellow safety Tyrann Mathieu will offer on and off the field. "(Maye) will be ready to go when we go out there tomorrow," Allen said. "I think we've got to be smart in making sure that we're monitoring how he's doing, because he didn't get a lot of activity during the spring. We want to kind of be able to ramp him up a little bit. I think him and Tyrann complement each other really well. Both have the ability to play deep, both have the ability to play down in the box. It's going to allow us to have some multiplicity in terms of what we do defensively, which is good. And I think Tyrann's veteran presence will bring some intelligence and leadership to that room."

PUT SOME RESPECT ON HIS NAME: Loomis doesn't believe that offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael has received his full due for his contributions to the Saints' offense over the years. "He's got a remarkable resume for the last 16 years, the number of times that we finished first and second. And I don't think he's ever gotten enough credit for his role in our offense. Hopefully, he does. The year when Sean was out, he called all the plays and ran the offense without Sean, we were second in the league. It just speaks to his ability. It was really important for us to retain him."

PACK THE STANDS: Loomis and Allen encouraged fans to attend practice, and be vocal participants, when they're present. "We love having the fans out at practice. I think it's highly motivational for our football players," Allen said. "We're cognizant of that, but we also know that – and I know the fans know this, too, and I know it's disappointing – but the most important thing is that we take care of those players. Because that's the most important asset that we have in this organization, is our players. And so, the No. 1 priority is to make sure that we are looking out for their best interest, which then in turn gives us the best chance to win games."

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