Saints ready to practice with Payton again

By BRETT MARTEL - AP Sports Writer
    2013-05-20 18:14

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Even as Sean Payton tried to make the best of his one-season bounty banishment from the NFL by spending time with his children, getting in shape and playing golf, he often compared his punishment to prison time.

He missed his work that much, his players say, adding that his return has infused Saints headquarters with a fresh intensity leading up to Tuesday's opening of voluntary offseason practices.

``You can sail a boat without a captain, but sometimes you don't know exactly where you're going,'' right tackle Zach Strief said on Monday, shortly before teeing off at a Saints Hall of Fame golf event.

The fiery head coach's return, Strief said, is ``getting us back on the right path, and I think everything we've seen so far kind of proves that.''

Payton's suspension ended in January, shortly after the regular season concluded with the Saints finishing 7-9 and out of the playoffs for the first time in four years. Upon his return, Payton quickly made changes to a defense that gave up an NFL worst-ever 7,042 yards last season, bringing in Rob Ryan as his new coordinator, which also meant changing alignments from a 4-3 (four lineman, three linebackers) to a 3-4.

When the voluntary weight and conditioning program began in April, players were greeted by Payton's new leaner, more muscular physique, as well as the crossfit regimen he used to get that way.

``He looks good,'' punter Thomas Morstead said. ``The first time I saw him, I said, `Hey, you look different.' And he said, `Hey man, when you go to jail, you either work out every day or you play bingo - and I hate bingo.'

``Coach Payton lives the way he is,'' Morstead added. ``He's got a brashness and aggressiveness and a confidence that rubs off on guys. So he comes back kind of yoked-up looking and he says, `Hey, you guys can be yoked-up with me.'''

Crossfit training involves timed sets of both weightlifting and conditioning activities. A number of Saints players have divided themselves into teams and held crossfit competitions to ratchet up the intensity even more.

Payton, who also played at the golf outing on Monday, said the start of what are known as OTAs - and which are voluntary offseason practices without pads - will mark the beginning of a key transitional period for the defense, as coaches evaluate how players returning from last year's squad fit best in the new scheme.

Defensive captain Will Smith, for example, will begin work at outside linebacker, rather than the defensive end spot at which he has played his whole career.

``That's where we'll start him,'' Payton said, noting that outside linebackers often play pass-rushing roles in a 3-4 scheme. ``We can play him right and left, but I think initially that right outside position would be very similar to what he's played for us in the past.''

Payton said he envisions veteran Jonathan Vilma as one of the two middle linebackers in the new scheme.

``There's just got to be some flexibility when it comes to the transition,'' Payton said. ``There'll be a few players that will learn more than one spot.''

Smith said he'll have to get used to starting plays in an upright stance, whereas before he crouched down with a hand on the turf. But beyond that, he said learning the new position is ``not that bad.''

``I may have a couple (pass) coverage responsibilities, but for the most part I'm just rushing (the passer) and playing the run,'' Smith said.

For Smith, the bigger difference - and a welcome one - is heading into a season without any bounty accusations or possible suspensions hanging over his head, and having Payton back at team headquarters.

In 2012, Smith initially was issued a four-game suspension, and Vilma a full-season ban, for what the NFL said were their roles as leaders in a bounty program that rewarded big plays - including big and sometimes injury-causing hits - with improper cash bonuses. However, player suspensions were never served and ultimately thrown out on appeal.

``It's definitely a different year,'' Smith said. ``Sean coming back brings a whole different element to the team. ... Nothing's been the same since he's been back. I think that's perfect for the group to move on, putting everything behind us and start a whole completely new year.''

The OTAs, which are scheduled to be closed on Tuesday and Wednesday, and open to media on Thursday, also mark the first time players acquired in 2012, such as starting guard Ben Grubbs, will have a chance to work with Payton on the gridiron.

``I was looking forward to getting a chance to play with coach Payton,'' Grubbs said. ``He's one of the main reasons why I signed here.''

Notes: The Saints on Monday waived defensive end Braylon Broughton. The 6-foot-6, 272-pound Broughton was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2012 out of TCU and spent last season on the practice squad.

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Steve JohnsonOct 12 07:12p

The San Diego Chargers have declared CB Craig Mager, DL Darius Philon, RB Donald Brown, OT King Dunlap, OG Orlando Franklin, WR Stevie Johnson, LB Tourek Williams inactive for Week 5.

B. RoethlisbergerOct 12 07:12p

The Pittsburgh Steelers have declared LB Anthony Chickillo, QB Ben Roethlisberger, OG Chris Hubbard, CB Cortez Allen, DL Daniel McCullers, TE Jesse James, LB Ryan Shazier inactive for Week 5.

Blake BortlesOct 12 03:22p

Updating previous reports, Jacksonville Jaguars QB Blake Bortles' (shoulder) sprained his throwing shoulder Sunday, Oct. 11, against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It is uncertain if Bortles will be able [ More ]

Josh McCownOct 12 03:12p

Updating a previous report, Cleveland Browns QB Josh McCown (ankle) suffered an ankle sprain in a Week 5 win against the Baltimore Ravens. He is hopeful he'll be able [ More ]

Marques ColstonOct 12 03:02p

New Orleans Saints WR Marques Colston (shoulder) has at least a separated shoulder and could have some structural damage in the shoulder, according to a source. Colston suffered the [ More ]

Antone SmithOct 12 03:02p

Free-agent RB Antone Smith (Falcons) signed with the Chicago Bears Monday, Oct. 12. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Jacquizz RodgersOct 12 02:52p

Chicago Bears RB Jacquizz Rodgers (arm) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list Monday, Oct.12, because of a fractured arm.

Dwight FreeneyOct 12 02:32p

Free-agent LB Dwight Freeney (Chargers) signed a one-year deal with the Arizona Cardinals Monday, Oct. 12, according to a source. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Odell Beckham Jr.Oct 12 02:22p

New York Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. (hamstring) is dealing with a hamstring injury, but the team hopes he will be able to practice on at least a limited [ More ]

Marshawn LynchOct 12 02:02p

Seattle Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch (hamstring) should be able to play in Week 6 against the Carolina Panthers if he doesn't suffer any setbacks this week, according to head coach Pete Carroll.

Blake BortlesOct 12 02:02p

Jacksonville Jaguars QB Blake Bortles (shoulder) likely will not participate in practice Wednesday, Oct. 14, but that should not indicate his status for the Week 6 game against the [ More ]

Blake BortlesOct 12 01:12p

Jacksonville Jaguars QB Blake Bortles (shoulder) suffered a Grade 1 shoulder sprain during the team's Week 5 game and his status will be updated later in the week, according to head coach Gus Bradley.

Charcandrick WestOct 12 12:52p

Kansas City Chiefs RBs Charcandrick West and Knile Davis both expect to split carries with RB Jamaal Charles (knee) expected to miss the rest of the season, and head [ More ]

Andrew LuckOct 12 12:52p

Indianapolis Colts QBs Andrew Luck (shoulder) and Matt Hasselbeck (illness) both practiced in full Monday, Oct. 12, according to head coach Chuck Pagano. Luck missed the last two weeks [ More ]

Matthew StaffordOct 12 11:22a

Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford will remain the starting quarterback, despite being benched in Week 5 Sunday, Oct. 11.

Josh JohnsonOct 12 11:12a

Indianapolis Colts QB Josh Johnson was released Monday, Oct. 12.

Dez BryantOct 12 10:22a

Dallas Cowboys WR Dez Bryant (foot) had bone marrow stem cells removed from his hip and injected into his ankle last week to help improve the healing process. The [ More ]

Matt CasselOct 12 02:02a

Dallas Cowboys QB Matt Cassel could get a chance in Week 7 after the team's bye, as head coach Jason Garrett said Sunday, Oct. 11, he will evaluate a [ More ]

Brandon WeedenOct 12 02:02a

Dallas Cowboys QB Brandon Weeden could be out as the team's starting quarterback, as head coach Jason Garrett said Sunday, Oct. 11, that he will evaluate a quarterback change during the team's bye week.

Matt JonesOct 12 02:02a

Washington Redskins RB Matt Jones (toe) suffered a sprained big toe in the Week 5 overtime loss against the Atlanta Falcons.

Josh McCownOct 12 01:52a

Cleveland Browns QB Josh McCown (ankle) suffered an ankle injury in the Week 5 win against the Baltimore Ravens. He was limping in the locker room after the game [ More ]

Shane VereenOct 12 01:22a

New York Giants RB Shane Vereen carried five times for 24 yards in the Week 5 game against the San Francisco 49ers and he added eight receptions for 86 yards with a touchdown.

Eli ManningOct 12 01:22a

New York Giants QB Eli Manning completed 41 of a career-high 54 pass attempts for 441 yards, three touchdowns and one interception in the Week 5 game against the San Francisco 49ers.

Odell Beckham Jr.Oct 12 01:22a

Updating a previous report, New York Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. (hamstring) returned for the team's final drive in the fourth quarter in Week 5 against the San Francisco [ More ]

Anquan BoldinOct 12 01:12a

San Francisco 49ers WR Anquan Boldin reeled in eight receptions for 107 yards and a touchdown in the Week 5 game against the New York Giants. He was targeted a game-high 12 times.

Carlos HydeOct 12 01:12a

San Francisco 49ers RB Carlos Hyde (leg) carried 21 times for 93 yards and a touchdown in the Week 5 game against the New York Giants.

Colin KaepernickOct 12 01:12a

San Francisco 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick completed 23 of his 35 pass attempts for 262 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions in the Week 5 game against the New [ More ]

Andre WilliamsOct 12 01:12a

New York Giants RB Andre Williams carried three times for zero yards in the Week 5 game against the San Francisco 49ers and he had no receptions or targets.

Dion LewisOct 11 11:52p

New England Patriots RB Dion Lewis was on the field for 43 snaps against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 5, finishing with six carries for 34 yards and eight [ More ]

Darren McFaddenOct 11 11:42p

Dallas Cowboys RB Darren McFadden had a team-high nine catches for 62 yards and five carries for 16 yards in a 30-6 loss to the New England Patriots in Week 5.

Jamison CrowderOct 11 11:32p

Washington Redskins WR Jamison Crowder posted eight receptions for 87 yards in the Week 5 game against the Atlanta Falcons, cashing in all eight of his targets.

Emmanuel SandersOct 11 11:32p

Denver Broncos WR Emmanuel Sanders had nine catches for 111 yards in a 16-10 win over the Oakland Raiders in Week 5.

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
Player Notes:
Forum Posts:

© 2015 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group