The New Orleans Saints returned to the team's Metairie, La. facility on Monday to begin the club's off-season workout program. This portion of the program is focused primarily on strength and conditioning.
Many members of last year's squad were joined by several Saints newcomers after spending three and a half months away following the end of the regular season to begin the nine-week offseason conditioning program.
Saints QB and team captain Drew Brees smiled following his workout and stated, "I know that I have been looking forward to this day for three months."
"It's exciting to come back into the building and see everyone together and getting after it in the gym," said LB Curtis Lofton, who joined the Saints as an unrestricted free agent prior to the 2012 season from the Atlanta Falcons. "As we said to each other, 'this is it, it's the start of the 2013 season.' There are some things that feel different, certainly, and that's probably attributed to the fact that Coach Payton is here and that provides its own energy. We know that there is a lot of hard work in front of us and it's important to have the right frame of mind and come in here each and every day ready to work. It's great to be back around everyone."
Since the conclusion of the 2012 season, the Saints have added eight free agents to the mix, including four on the defensive side of the ball to work under new coordinator Rob Ryan.
These players looking to make an impact in the team's new 3-4 defensive alignment include LB Victor Butler, DT Kenyon Coleman, S Jim Leonhard and CB Keenan Lewis with QB Luke McCown, T Jason Smith, QB Seneca Wallace and TE Benjamin Watson joining the offense.
The 2013 NFL Draft will begin on Thursday, April 25th, with the first round, and continue through the weekend. The Saints hold five picks in this year's draft for the second consecutive year, including the 15th overall selection. The newest Saints following the NFL Draft will take part in the Rookie Camp in May.
WR Nick Toon, who spent his first regular season on the reserve/injured list, also said it was a good to be back in the building and focusing on getting prepared for the football activities.
"I'm super excited to be back," Toon stated. "Especially for a guy like me, who missed time due to an injury, it's been a long time away from the field. It feels great to be back around all my teammates and feel the energy in the building."
Later in the offseason, the team will host a full-squad minicamp in the beginning of June leading up to the final week of OTAs. The players will then have six weeks away from the facility prior to the start of training camp in late July.