Training Camp !!

Whodatnation has some good news, here is a little update from Gus Kattengell !

It’s here! Saints Training Camp 2009 is underway and with it the start of a highly anticipated season. The Black and Gold had a busy offseason, one that has fans excited by not only the moves made by the front office, but also because for the first time since the 2005 season, the team will hold camp at it’s training facility in Metairie.

With camp at home this year, players will stay at a hotel instead of a college dorm. There are also just 12 two a days and most of the afternoon practices will be held indoors. Overall it will be a more comfortable Camp Payton this go around, but despite the comfortable settings of their home base, head coach Sean Payton believes the team will still get the work environment it needs to prepare for the new season.

“I think in the end the training camp will be what we make it to be,” Payton said at the camp kick off press conference Thursday evening.

Moves such as the hiring of new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, and free agent signings Darren Sharper, and Jabari Greer have the fan base believing the defense has already improved. Time will tell if draft picks Malcolm Jenkins (1st round), safety Chip Vaughn (4th round) and punter Thomas Morestead (5th round) will make an impact this season, but Payton says he’s happy with what they’ve shown during the offseason.
Add the return of last season’s league leading offense, and you can see why some are arguing that this could be the most talented Saints team ever. As Payton enters his fourth season as head coach, he believes it’s the best collection of talent he’s had since his hiring. “We’re anxious. We’re anxious for the challenge. We think we’ve gotten better. We think we’ve had a real good offseason,” says Payton. “ I think overall the offseason was clearly the best we’ve had. It was competitive. I think training camp is going to be competitive.

The past two seasons have been disappointments as the team has suffered through injuries and lackluster performances after reaching the NFC Championship game in the 2006 season. While Payton warns that a meaningful game has yet to be played and that camp is just getting underway, the potential of the group he may be going to war with on Sunday’s has him feeling good about the upcoming year.

“I think there is a sense of excitement I would say in the organization not just in the football end of the building but by in large a pretty good feeling about this team.”

Saints first round draft pick Malcolm Jenkins has not reported to camp and it appears it could be a while before the cornerback from Ohio State joins the team. “I would say there is no progress at all on Malcolm and I’m very pessimistic on having anything done with him in the near future,” said Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis Thursday.

Fourth rounder pick safety Chip Vaughn and fifth rounder punter Thomas Morestead have been signed and were at the team meetings Thursday morning. The team also released DE / LS Rob Ninkovich.

Loomis and Jenkins representatives have only spoken once and during that talk, the team sent over an offer and the Jenkins camp has yet to respond. While first round holdouts are commonplace, the weak economy and the looming labor talks could make for a difficult sighing period.

“I think every year part of the issue is the dollars. I think the economy definitely affects that,” said Loomis. “It’s affected all of our teams and we all have to be conscious of our costs and expenses, and yet it seems like the agents and representatives for these guys are oblivious to that.”
When the Saints put the pads on Friday for the first time, just three Saints will be taking it easy. WR Lance Moore (shoulder), WR Adrian Arrington, and LB Jonathan Vilma (abdomen) are currently on the Player Unable to Perform list or PUP. Payton says they will do work and practice but will be worked into team drills slowly.

Vilma underwent a scope to repair a developing sports hernia. The procedure was done following the team’s final mini camp.

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