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NFL officials in town for several New Orleans Saints camp practices

'It's good to have, especially when we get our league officials out here for a period of time'


NFL officials were on hand for Wednesday's training camp practice at the Ochsner Sports Performance Center, and they'll be in town for two-and-a-half days.

"It happens every training camp," Saints Coach Sean Payton said. "(Wednesday night), they'll present in the meetings rule changes, points of emphasis.

"All of these guys are league officials so they're talking to the receivers about alignments, any questions that players have. It's good to have, especially when we get our league officials out here for a period of time, just getting used to what's going to be called, what's not going to be called. I think it's good for all of these players, not just the younger players."

The briefing will include educating players on several rule changes.

"Point of emphasis relative to unsportsmanlike conduct," Payton said. "That's going to be something that they call closer. The pulling (offensive) lineman in space, when the corner takes on that block, there can't be an intentional cut now below the waist. There's a no-cut zone relative to certain plays in the running game or pass protection.

"I don't know that there's any one big specific change, but it is important to be on the same page when the season starts relative to what are the changes and then what are the things that they're going to look to call maybe a little closer."

The increased attention given to unsportsmanlike conduct penalties – perhaps, particularly, taunting – is something that has NFL players concerned, judging by comments on social media. It's also something that the Saints are aware of, given that New Orleans defensive back Chauncey Gardner-Johnson has a "chatty" nature, one that has triggered several opponents. Gardner-Johnson also has drawn a few personal foul penalties himself.

"I don't have right now in front of me the amount of penalties, but he's been at the scene of a few crimes," Payton said.

PROGRESS: Receiver Tre'Quan Smith hasn't practiced since Aug. 3, but he attended practice Wednesday and did some light conditioning work. Smith is the Saints' leading returning receiver.

ROLL CALL: Among the players missing practice Wednesday were rookie linebacker Pete Werner and rookie defensive lineman Payton Turner, safety Marcus Williams, offensive lineman Will Clap and kicker Wil Lutz. Defensive tackle Albert Huggins had a number change, from 60 to 95.

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