The New Orleans Saints will kick off their three-day rookie minicamp today. The media will only have access to one portion of practice on Saturday, followed by interviews with the newcomers.
We already know about the Saints’ six draft picks and 18 undrafted rookies that will be in attendance. But this is also the weekend for some long shots who are invited on a three-day tryout basis.
As Saints coach Sean Payton reminded the media last weekend, those tryout players can look to New Orleans running back Khiry Robinson for inspiration.
“Khiry [was] one of them a year ago,” Payton said after the Saints wrapped up their draft last Saturday afternoon. “He wasn’t on this list [of draft picks]. He wasn’t on what is going to be tomorrow’s list after the phone calls tonight. He was on the next list.
“We always try to preach to those guys that the business of acquiring the player is one thing, but once they get here we really try to go by what we see.”
Robinson, who came out of West Texas A&M, was impressive enough during that tryout to earn a spot on the 90-man roster. Then he was impressive enough during the preseason to force his way onto the Saints’ regular-season roster as their fifth tailback.
He ran for 224 yards and a touchdown during the regular season. Then he really came on strong in the playoffs, running for 102 yards and a touchdown in two postseason games while veteran Pierre Thomas was injured.
After Robinson became an unlikely hero in the Saints’ playoff win over Philadelphia – helping to run out the clock on the game-winning field goal drive – he reflected back on that first tryout weekend.
"At that point in time, it was just all about having faith," Robinson said in Philly. "So I didn't get drafted, I didn't get picked up, you know. But it all worked out for me. I just kept my head high, kept my faith and kept working hard. And I'm here today to help the team win. I'm happy for that."