Sean Payton's eyes still on Saints

METAIRIE, La. -- I just finished a news story for our main NFL page on this, but it’s well worth sharing here.

Suspended New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton still is watching the team. Well, not really. A huge photo of Payton was put up in the team’s indoor practice facility. It’s on a sideline wall at right about midfield and it shows Payton with a glare on his face. At the bottom of the photo are the words, “Do your job."

“That was Dallas Clark’s third-quarter catch in the Super Bowl and [Payton was] looking at me,’’ assistant head coach Joe Vitt said with a chuckle when asked to describe Payton’s look. “Every player on our team has gotten that look.’’

Vitt said putting the Payton photo up was the idea of team owner Tom Benson. Vitt said numerous players said to him that they had the same reaction -- that Payton was watching them. Although Payton is not allowed to have any contact with anyone employed by the Saints during his suspension, his presence still is felt beyond the photo. The team’s media guide features Payton’s photo and biography near the front and he’s still listed as head coach on the official training camp roster.

The “Do your job’’ message is the same one Vitt said Payton gave him as he left to begin his suspension. Apparently, the photo is a way of reminding all the players and coaches to do their jobs.

I’ll have much more on Saints’ camp on Monday when we run our Camp Confidential profile on the team, but I’ll share a couple of quick notes from Friday’s practice here.

  • Longtime NFL receiver Isaac Bruce, a close friend of Vitt’s, visited with the team for the second straight day. Vitt called Bruce one of the best players and people he ever has coached.

  • The Saints practiced indoors, due to weather, for the second straight day. Vitt said he’s hopeful the team can get outside in front of its fans on Saturday.

  • Tight end David Thomas sat out practice with a lower-back strain. Vitt said Thomas is expected to return to practice soon.

  • Running back Mark Ingram did not take part in team drills. Vitt said that was by design and the team is proceeding cautiously with Ingram as he comes back from knee and foot issues.

  • Backup tight end Michael Higgins had several nice catches and drew praise from Vitt after practice.