Observations on the New Orleans Saints

METAIRIE, La. -– I had my first chance to see the New Orleans Saints since the Super Bowl as they went through two minicamp practices Friday. It was a bit of a media circus, but you’ve got to expect that when you’re the defending champion and the Saints seemed focused on business. Here are some notes and observations:

  • Tight end Jeremy Shockey sat out the morning session because of back spasms, coach Sean Payton said. But Shockey took part in most of the afternoon session.

  • The Saints had undrafted quarterback Greg Paulus (Syracuse) in for another tryout. They already had him in for their rookie camp. Not sure whether Paulus will end up getting a contract. If he does, he’ll compete with Chase Daniel and Sean Canfield to be the No. 3 quarterback. More than ever, I’m convinced the Saints have to add a veteran just in case something happens to Drew Brees.

  • Speaking of veteran backups, Mark Brunell’s stuff still is in his locker. I wouldn’t read too much into that because Brunell supposedly is ticketed to join the New York Jets before training camp. I’m thinking the Saints will sign someone like Patrick Ramsey or Luke McCown, who previously have visited with the team, but I’m not totally ruling out the possibility of Brunell returning.

  • Running back Pierre Thomas and left tackle Jammal Brown were not present. Both are restricted free agents, who have not signed their tenders and are looking for long-term deals. I usually try to stay out of contract negotiations, but I’m thinking not showing isn’t a good move by Thomas or Brown. The Saints have other options at both positions.

  • Speaking of running backs, I’m not a scout and don’t carry a stop watch. But Reggie Bush looked faster Friday than I remember him looking in the past.

  • On pure speed alone, free-agent receiver Larry Beavers might have flashed the most speed on the team on a deep route during the afternoon session. But the Saints are deep at receiver and, despite his speed, Beavers probably needs to add a little bulk to have any shot at making the roster.

  • There was a lot made about the Saints being more aggressive on defense when coordinator Gregg Williams came in last year. He had his players chasing loose balls and constantly trying to poke the ball loose from offensive players. Doesn’t look like Williams’ message has changed a bit and that’s a positive.

  • I’ll be back with more Saturday. By the way, the Saturday morning session, which starts at 10:15 CT, is scheduled to be open to the public.