The Saints and the New England Patriots conducted two workouts on Tuesday on the practice fields in Foxboro, Massachusetts on the practice fields adjacent to Gillette Stadium. The general format of the workouts consisted of the clubs working amongst themselves for the first 40 minutes, with them then getting together for special teams, seven-on-seven and team periods.
NEXT UP:The Saints and the Patriots will practice on Wednesday, August 11 at 9 a.m.
ADMIRATION:Since becoming head coach in 2006, New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton has always said that he would like for his teams to emulate the success and consistency that the Patriots have experienced over the last ten years in winning three Super Bowls and appearing in four under Bill Belichick. Even as coach of the defending Super Bowl champion, he reiterated that point today.
"He's a guy that certainly I respect and when we got to New Orleans in '06, we payed close attention to who was winning in our league and clearly we patterned our organization after what New England was trying to accomplish," said Payton. "My grandmother used to say I think imitation is the greatest form of flattery. He's someone who's done a great job. They've created a great environment here that we tried to create in New Orleans."
BON JOVI VISITS: Jon Bon Joviwas a special guest out at the joint practice this morning. The rock star spent time with both club's head coaches and also visited with Saints Owner Tom Bensonand New England Owner Robert Kraft also spent time with the rock star. Benson and Bon Jovi were previously fellow owners in the Arena Football League from 2004-08 with the New Orleans VooDoo and Philadelphia Soul. Payton also recalled how he was at a Bon Jovi concert in January, 2006 at the American Airlines Arena with his wife, Beth, when he had to step out and answer a call on his cell phone from GM/Executive Vice-President Mickey Loomis, offering him the Saints head coaching job.
CONNECTIONS:Three Saints have extensive connections with the Patriots and spent extended time with fans, friends and media following practice. FB Heath Evans, CB Randall Gayand TE David Thomasall played for New England.
"It feels great," said Gay of returning to Foxboro. "The No. 1 thing is that the weather feels excellent. I forgot how it was to come out to training camp and have a cool breeze and it's not 120 degrees. As soon as you walk out to stretch, your pants are usually soaking wet but it feels good to come out here with the guys. Just seeing all these guys again that I haven't seen in a while (is great)."
JOINT WORK:In addition to escaping the extreme heat of Louisiana for a week, several Saints also thought that it was beneficial to be able to back off of each other a little and face another opponent. Another additional benefit for the New England offense in these workouts is working with the Patriots 3-4 defense.
"It feels good to get out here and get a different look," said WR Lance Moore. We've been kind of beating each other up the last 10 or so days and just to get out here with some different guys and play some different defenses is definitely good for our offense.
THE ROAD TO REPEAT:Post-practice talk during this week among media inevitably ensues about the Saints attempt to repeat as Super Bowl champions given that New England was the last to do so in capturing Super Bowls XXXVIII and XXXIX. While it's not an everyday topic among players and coaches that seek to place their attention on the task at hand, QB Drew Breesacknowledged that he and Payton have studied up on the challenges and adversity facing any reigning champion in professional sports.
"You'd be naïve to think that you're just going to step on the field and it's going to happen for you, that teams are going to roll over or be intimidated because you're the defending world champs," said Brees. "If anything, it only gets harder because everyone is gunning for you and you have the big bull's eye on your chest. I think the main focus for us is to just get a little bit better every day and to not let the little things slide; constantly focus on the details and focus on the fundamentals and all the little things that are going to get you a little bit better every day and don't look too far ahead. It's all about one week at a time, one day at a time; I could throw out all the cheesy clichés, but the fact is that they're true. That's what we're trying to do – just focus on one day at a time."
PAYTON POPULARITY:Following the practice, Payton spent about 20 minutes signing autographs and visiting with fans, some Patriots, some Saints. Following the session, he discussed how the passion of the New England sports fan is similar to that of what he experiences on a daily basis in New Orleans.
"They're awesome. They're great football fans up there and I think that they really appreciate good football. They've had a lot of success and a lot to root for. That's a good thing."