Just over six months after their season came to an end with a playoff loss in Seattle, the New Orleans Saints will be one of several NFL teams to open their 2014 training camp this week. The Saints will hold camp in West Virginia at the Greenbrier Resort, which will also host the club for the next two summers after a three-year agreement was reached between the two parties.
Following the favorable conclusion of Jimmy Graham's long-standing franchise tag and contract negotiation saga, the Saints will bring a full roster to the Greenbrier, which is nestled in the foothills of the Allegheny mountains.
The team will depart via a charter flight on Wednesday, and camp will officially get underway on Thursday, the 24th with physicals and meetings. The Saints will break camp after a pair of workouts on August 13, and return to Louisiana in advance of their preseason home opener with the Tennessee Titans. The remainder of preseason workouts will be conducted at the team's Metairie facility.
Here is a breakdown and schedule of how camp will be structured over the next three weeks:
The Greenbrier Resort
A Forbes four-star and AAA Five Diamond Award-winning luxury resort, the Greenbrier is based just outside the town of White Sulphur Springs, WV. It is widely known for its lovely Golf course which plays host to the PGA's Greenbrier Classic. In addition, the President's Cottage Museum is another feature on the property in the form of a two-story building which commemorates the visits to the resort of 26 past U.S. Presidents. Another unique feature on the premise is an underground bunker that was built to serve as an emergency shelter for U.S. Congress during the Cold War, code named "Project Greek Island." Construction at the Greenbrier in advance of the Saints' arrival this week.
This past March, the Greenbrier reached a deal with the Saints, and will now host the team for training camp through the summer of 2016. The agreement came to fruition as Saints coach Sean payton visited the facility during the 2013 Greenbrier Classic, where he served as a caddy to his good friend and PGA Golfer Ryan Palmer at the event's pro-am competition. Payton liked what he saw, and since then, the hotel has constructed three football fields and accompanying medical facilities at an estimated cost of $20-25 million in order to accompany an NFL team like the Saints for training camp purposes.
The team's gear arrived at the resort last week, after a convoy of trucks made the journey up north from New Orleans. All that is needed now are the players and coaches, who are scheduled to arrive Wednesday.
While at their West Virginia base, the Saints will hold a total of 20 practices. Following a day of physicals, strength and conditioning tests and meetings on Thursday, the team will hold its first camp workout on Friday the 25th, from 8:50-11:40 A.M. followed by an afternoon walk thru from 4:30-5:30 P.M. This will mark the first of twelve two-a-day workouts throughout the course of camp.
A scrimage will be held on Saturday August 2nd from 8:50-11:40 A.M.
All workouts will be open to the general public and media, including the team's preseason practices in Louisiana after the conclusion of training camp at the Greenbrier. Players will be available for autographs at the end of each practice, weather permitting. Photographs will be allowed. The players will have two days off during camp, Wednesday July 30, and Sunday, August 3 in addition to a pair of days off either side of the team's first preseason game at St. Louis on August 8.
Thurs July 24- Reporting Day
Fri July 25- 8:50-11:40 a.m./4:30- 5:30 p.m
Sat July 26- 8:50-11:40 a.m./4:30- 5:30 p.m
Sun July 27- 8:50-11:40 a.m./4:30- 5:30 p.m
Mon July 28- 8:50-11:40 a.m./4:30- 5:30 p.m
Tues July 29- 8:50-11:40 a.m./4:30- 5:30 p.m
Wed July 30- OFF
Thurs July 31- 8:50-11:40 a.m./4:30- 5:30 p.m
Fri August 1- 8:50-11:40 a.m./4:30- 5:30 p.m
Sat August 2- SCRIMMAGE 8:50-11:40 A.M.
Sun August 3- OFF
Mon August 4- 4-5:50 P.M.
Tues August 5- 8:50-11:40 a.m./4:30- 5:30 p.m.
Wed August 6- 8:50-11:40 a.m./4:30- 5:30 p.m.
Thurs August 7- OFF, Travel to St. Louis for first preseason game
Fri August 8- Preseason game @ St. Louis (7 P.M. NFL Network)
Sat August 9- OFF
Sun August 10- 4-5:50 P.M.
Mon August 11- 8:50-11:40 a.m./4:30- 5:30 p.m.
Tues August 12- 8:50-11:40 a.m./4:30- 5:30 p.m.
Wed August 13- 8:50-11:40 a.m./4:30- 5:30 p.m.
Thurs August 14- Return to New Orleans ahead of preseason home opener vs Tennessee ( Fri 8/15 7 P.M.)
See also: 2014 Saints preseason schedule
In addition to the golf courses, museum and newly constructed athletic facilities built to suit the Saints, the Greenbrier also boasts a championship indoor and outdoor Tennis set-up, a 40,000 square foot spa, private homes and over 10,000 acres of stunning landscape. Fans planning on attending can visit Greenbrier.com for further info.
Six months on, with the bitter taste of that Seahawks defeat still in their mouths, Saints players are already hard at work in advance of camp, ensuring they report in peak physical condition.
Defensive players Curtis Lofton, Akiem Hicks and Glenn Foster are three in particular who took the opportunity to use the down time between the conclusion of OTAs last month and the start of camp this month to workout together with an eye on putting last season's frustrating end behind them for good. DL Akiem Hicks and his teammates will look to put last season's frustrating finish behind them in 2014.
"For me and a lot of guys this is the time, because it's right before the season. Training camp is what five days away now?" Lofton said. "You want to go to training camp in as best shape as you can, have your body feeling great. That's what Akiem and Foster and I try to do. What's really good about working out with these guys, we push each other, hold each other accountable. We're excited about camp."
Excited and ready. Ready to build on the positives from last season and erase that lingering negative.
"They say you have to have a short memory, right? Games like that, they really never leave. Every time I see a highlight or a play that I remember, I just have a flashback of the entire season," Hicks said. "The part of the season where you don't reach the goals that you want, or that you fail, you remember those. Those make you stronger."
The Greenbrier and its surrounding country roads can expect a strong group of Saints this week.
At last, Football is upon us.