Following a successful three-day rookie minicamp, the New Orleans Saints will return to the field Tuesday for a round of organized team activities. These voluntary workouts will mark the beginning of the team's on-field preparation for the 2014 season in earnest. The three-day session is the first of a cluster of 10 voluntary practices, with two more on the docket from June 3-5 and June 16-19. In addition, a mandatory minicamp is slated for June 10-12. The workouts will center around non-contact drills in advance of training camp, which begins in late July.
Since April, Saints players have been busy in the weight room working on preparing their bodies for the upcoming offseason schedule and putting an emphasis on maximizing their conditioning. Jimmy Graham, who is scheduled to appear in front of an arbitrator to contest the terms of his franchise tag next month, will not be in attendance, but a vast majority of the club's veterans, including Quarterback Drew Brees will be there. Eager to get back to work, Brees expressed his excitement at the opportunity to return to more Football-centric activities.
"We've been working out in the weight room long enough," Brees said. "It's time to get to some actual Football." Back in the saddle. Drew Brees is eager to get back to Football-related activities.
The next three days will also bring an opportunity for some of the team's new faces to take the practice field for the first time as Saints players. Jairus Byrd, Champ Bailey and the team's 2014 draft class, highlighted by receiver Brandin Cooks and corner Stanley Jean-Baptiste, are expected to be in attendance, along with several of the team's undrafted signings, who impressed coaches at rookie minicamp, which was held in the days immediately following the draft's conclusion.
Position battles and competition for reps won't heat up until later in the summer, due to the lack of contact and live action on the practice field, but the players will have a chance to showcase their knowledge of the system and prove they can operate within the scheme. Coaches will have a chance to administer some hands-on coaching as they look to mold the technique and execution of their young players. These practices will provide a great platform for those young players, in particular. For instance, the 7-on-7 drills will be beneficial to the franchise's bevy of talented, but unproven receivers and young defensive backs looking to make an impact. The Saints will also hope to see progression from some of their young offensive linemen, with the starting Center spot still wide open heading into summer.
With ten scheduled voluntary practices and a three-day mandatory minicamp waiting in the wings, the New Orleans Saints have officially kicked into Football mode. The team's front office has made hay this offseason, reeling in a strong free agent class and selecting a formidable group of draftees. With a grievance hearing staring at them down the pike, the Saints can, at least for the time being, shift their focus to the actual Football field, where their players and coaches feel most at home.