<span>The Saints practiced for almost 2 ½ hours today at the U. of the Miami's football fields under ideal conditions and head coach Sean Payton said he was very pleased with the work. "I think we're ahead of schedule with just about everything we're trying to get done," said Payton, a first-time Super Bowl head coach. "Even the buses and everything are running on time or ahead of schedule."
The Saints worked on mostly base first-down and second-down situations on Wednesday. Payton, who wore a Hurricane visor and coaching shirt instead of his standard New Orleans' garb, said that he still has some offensive and defensive installation work to do, but that "two-thirds of it" was done last week in New Orleans.
Those unfamiliar with how the Saints' approach a practice would be interested to know that Payton conducts a 30-minute walk-through with every unit from special teams to specialized offensive formations before the team participates in stretching exercises. The team even worked for more than five minutes on turnover drills, something you generally witness in training camp.
"Well, we do that a lot during the season, too," Payton said. "But I'd like us to have a little of that training-camp mentality here. We even brought in the cool pools for the guys just in case."
All of the injured Saints, with the exception of running back Lynell Hamilton, who watched with a walking boot protecting his left ankle, participated fully in all team drills, although some on a limited basis. Tight end Jeremy Shockey (knee), safety Darren Sharper (knee) and linebacker Jonathan Vilma (knee) seemingly worked in every drill and all three looked good. Injured cornerback Randall Gay (foot) was running so well that he intercepted two passes against the scout team.
At the conclusion of practice, quarterback Drew Brees and four of his receivers stayed on the field to fine-tune a few specific routes for an extra 10 minutes.
-- John Czarnecki