The day before the New Orleans Saints take to the field for their first practice, Executive Vice President/General Manager Mickey Loomis and Head Coach Sean Payton held a press conference in front of more than 40 media members at the New Orleans Saints Training Facility in Metairie Thursday afternoon.
Highlights from Thursday's press conference:
- Loomis opened the press conference by announcing that four players – S Darren Sharper,WR Robert Meachem, WR Marques Colston,LB Clint Ingram–**would be put on the active physically unable to perform (PUP) list.
- Being on the active PUP list means that the player counts towards the 80-man roster and can be activated to practice at any time. While on the PUP list, players can participate in all activities but on field work with the rest of the team.
- Loomis said he expected all four to be ready and active in the next couple of weeks.
- Malcolm Jenkins *andUsama Young *are expected to run at free safety with the first team during Sharper's absence.
- Payton said it took "all of six minutes" in their staff meeting Wednesday night to decide who needed to be on the PUP list.
- Loomis announced that they have terminated FB Jason McKie'scontract and waived Earl Heymanin order to get to the 80-man roster.
- Payton expressed how encouraged by how well his team was conditioned. Coach said they had the most players with 100 percent attendance in the offseason as they have ever had. The record number of perfect attendees reduced the amount the players had to run this morning.
- Both Loomis and Payton touched on the Saints signing free agent quarterback Patrick Ramseyto a one-year contract on Wednesday.
- Loomis expressed that they had targeted Ramsey for a while but had to wait due to the league rules of teams that finish in top four the previous year being limited in unrestricted free agency.
- Payton has never worked with Ramsey but stated they researched him quite a bit and got a lot of good feedback from a number of coaches who have worked with the Tulane alum.
- Loomis and Payton both expressed their interest in Ramsey's experience and said he was the "best fit" of the available quarterbacks.
* Backing Up Drew*
- One of the most intriguing battles in training camp will be who takes the No. 2 quarterback position behind starter Drew Brees. Payton expressed that Ramsey and Chase Danielwill both compete for the spot.
- Payton said he is not sure how many quarterbacks he will keep on the active roster. The Saints have alternated between two or three quarterbacks during Payton's tenure in New Orleans.
- With the signing of 2010 third-round draft pick Jimmy Graham to a four-year contract on Wednesday, the only remaining unsigned rookie is first-round selection DB Patrick Robinson.
- Loomis said they are close to signing the first-round pick and would be surprised if he wasn't signed by the end of the weekend.
- Payton said Robinson has a "pretty good grasp" on the team's defense and worked well at the nickel and dime position.
* McCray Returns*
- Loomis and Payton both said they didn't plan on re-signing DL Bobby McCrayafter releasing him a month ago. The Saints released McCray and re-signed him on July 22 to a one-year contract.
- Payton echoed Loomis' thoughts for why they brought McCray back and said he was not brought back because of an injury to another player. Payton said he glad to have seven-year veteran and his pass rush abilities on the roster.
* Wilkerson Surprise*
- Loomis noted one of the surprises of the conditioning test was DL Jimmy Wilkersonbeing a "full go" for training camp. Loomis expected Wilkerson might have to sit out the start of camp due to a knee injury that ended his season last year.
- Loomis said he envisions Wilkerson as a defensive end despite flexibility to play at tackle.
* Dealing With Success*
- Loomis said the main thing he is looking for out of training camp is to see how the squad handles the successes of the Super Bowl win.
"I think more than anything else I am interested to see how we handle success," said Loomis. "What is our work ethic? What is the level of intensity in this training camp as compared to last? I thought the intensity during training camp last season, and even during the offseason program, was as high as I have ever seen for a team that I have been a part of."
White House Visit
- Loomis and Payton were both asked about the team's trip to the White House on Aug. 9 to be recognized by President Obama for winning Super Bowl XLIV.
- The visit will precede their trip to New England, where they will hold a joint practiced with the Patriots before the teams' their preseason opener on Aug. 12
"When we were looking at the schedule and it looked like we weren't going to be able to get a visit scheduled, it was actually Sean's (Payton) suggestion that we marry it with our trip to New England," said Loomis. "We are looking forward to it and I know our team is looking forward to it. The only downside is that a few guys that were on the team last year will not be able to visit."
"I think our players and all of us will look forward to the opportunity and recognize it is a special opportunity," said Payton. "I have never had a chance to be at the White House. The way the schedule worked out, it makes it a little more convenient for us to be able to stop there on the way to New England. We are looking forward to it and I know the players are."
- DB Tracy Porterand WR Rod Haperare two guys Payton said he would like to see get more reps at returning punts. Harper returned two punts for touchdowns last season before a foot injury sidelined him for the regular season.
- With the departure of QB Mark Brunellin the offseason, the Saints will need a place holder for field goals and extra points. Payton said Daniel and Ramsey, P Thomas Morstreadand*WRLance Moore *will get a look at for the position.
Tennant Excused From First Weekend
- The New Orleans Saints organization would like to send its condolences to C Matt Tennantand his family after Tennant's mother passed away recently. Loomis said Tennant would be excused from this weekend's practices.
Beat The Heat
- Payton stressed that the coaching staff and trainers would be monitoring the players dealing with the hot and humid weather that hits Louisiana in the summer.
- The Saints are arguably the hottest team entering the 2010 season after coming off their victory in Super Bowl XLVI, but according to The Weather Channel (weather.com), The Saints are the runner up when it comes to hosts the hottest training camp.
- The Weather Channel ranked the league's hottest training camps by compiling National Weather Service 1971-2000 average August temperatures, high temperatures, and number of 90-degree days, we came up with a list of the top 10 hottest NFL training camps. Their rankings are listed below:
The Weather Channel's Hottest Training Camps
- Houston Texans (Houston, Tx.)
2. New Orleans Saints (Metairie, La.)
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Tampa, Fla.)
- Miami Dolphins (Davie, Fla.)
- Jacksonville Jaguars (Jacksonville, Fla.)
- St. Louis Rams (Earth City, Mo.)
- Tennessee Titans (Nashville, Tenn.)
- Carolina Panthers (Spartanburg, S.C.)
- Kansas City Chiefs (St. Joseph, Mo.)
- Atlanta Falcons (Flowery Branch, Ga.)