I started my training camp travels on July 25 and have seen the Saints, Falcons and Buccaneers. I’ll see the Panthers on Monday and Tuesday and return home to catch a bit more of the Buccaneers between now and the end of camp.
You can see my Camp Confidential profiles on the Falcons here and the Saints here. I’ll have Camp Confidential profiles on the Panthers and Buccaneers soon enough and I still have some leftover stuff on the Saints and Falcons that I’ll share with you between now and the start of the regular season.
But let’s reflect a bit on what I’ve seen so far and touch on some things that I haven’t used in the Camp Confidential profiles or in other notes.
New Orleans’ camp was unique in many ways. Due to all that’s happened in the offseason, the media contingent was huge. Weather also forced the Saints to practice indoors on the two days I was there. That allowed the media to get a look at the huge photo of suspended coach Sean Payton that’s hanging in the indoor practice facility with the message, “Do your job." It was a pretty chaotic environment on the periphery. But that kind of stuff doesn’t really matter. What I saw on the field looked like the same old Saints. Assistant head coach Joe Vitt and quarterback Drew Brees, who also could probably carry the assistant head coach title, are going about business as usual.
Arriving at Atlanta’s camp, I saw a completely different environment. The Falcons had a calm offseason (their fans would say it’s too calm), but that’s a good thing. There was no media frenzy because the Falcons have no controversy and didn’t have a lot of turnover in the offseason. I caught the Falcons in their first two days in pads and they looked pretty sharp. Stability and continuity are themes the Falcons like to talk about and those are positive things. But I also left camp with the impression that just about everyone in the organization realizes this is a critical season and the Falcons almost have to win a postseason game. But I also got the impression they’re up for the challenge.
Tampa Bay’s camp is a lot more orderly than it’s been in recent years and that’s because Greg Schiano, not Raheem Morris, is running the show. You can see the Bucs have some young talent and they’re going about things in the right way. They were doing some things really well, but their practices were far from perfect. It’s obvious this team is still a work in progress and the Bucs, who are not a veteran team like the Falcons and Saints, are getting used to a new head coach and new offensive and defensive systems. But there still is a lot of camp and an entire preseason left and, judging by everything I’ve seen from Schiano, I’m sure he’ll use that time to try to get his team up to speed.