White Sulphur Springs, W.Va. – For the first time since the New Orleans Saints opened training camp at The Greenbrier resort, the weather wasn't clean and neither was practice.
Steady rain and lowered temperatures accompanied the Saints in their Monday morning practice, and Coach Sean Payton said the team didn't exactly warm to the task.
"Overall, it was kind of sloppy I thought, a lot of balls on the ground – too much for my liking or our liking," Payton said. "I thought the short-yardage period was the same way, just OK. (It was) probably, one of our more flat practices since we've been up here. The weather's not that bad, we're going to play in weather like this.
"You try to have a wet-ball drill day and it's not the same. This is more realistic. More than anything else you want to see how they respond and we've got to do a better job as coaches. We get that type of practice and that's on me, everyone coaching as well."
While Payton and staff fell on the sword, players also assumed their share of responsibility for the sloppy work.
"It was a sloppy practice and it's something that we're going to have to bounce back from tomorrow," defensive lineman Akiem Hicks said. "You're going to have those days where guys don't perform like they want to, even though the 'want to' is there. So it's just something we're going to have to bounce back tomorrow and do better."
Said quarterback Luke McCown: "That falls on the veteran leadership of the team, specifically myself, (quarterback) Ryan (Griffin) – the quarterbacks and the center, and making sure we get that handled.
"There are going to be situations where we play in weather this year and we've got to be able to handle that. This was our first taste of it through training camp and there's no excuse for it. We spent time after practice taking 15-20 extra snaps, no towels, no gloves, just getting the snaps.
"It takes some getting used to but you've got to be able to do it. It was inconsistent today, it wasn't good enough today, and I hope it rains tomorrow so we can be better."
Payton said the team will have to be better if rain persists for several days because there is no other alternative.
"The first thing is, what do you do when you don't have an indoor facility?" he said. "You practice, unless there's lightning. I think we've been fortunate. If training camp (in West Virginia) finishes up this week and we had a day or two in rain and the rest of it in good weather … I think part of the deal when you don't have an indoor is knowing that you're going to – without lightning – you're going to end up practicing outside. I thought it was good for us to see it and recognize that we've got to make some improvements, obviously, in being able to handle the ball and just function.
"It just was sloppy. Handing the football, guys have gloves on, getting wet – but it would be the first true test where we're not just simulating.
"It does affect how you get ready to practice tomorrow. We've got to do a better job, we've got to have a little bit more sense of urgency and I'm sure we will. We might repeat a drill or two."