2014 DRAFT GUIDE
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

Peyton ManningJan 30 12:52p

Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning may make a decision on whether he plans to return for another season in the near future, according to his dad, Archie Manning. Archie [ More ]

Brandon MarshallJan 30 10:42a

Chicago Bears WR Brandon Marshall may not return to the team in 2015, in the opinion of ESPNChicago.com's Michael C. Wright. The thinking is that Marshall and WR Alshon [ More ]

LeSean McCoyJan 30 02:32a

Philadelphia Eagles RB LeSean McCoy has said he would restructure his contract to lower the $11.95 million cap hit for 2015, but he will not take a pay cut.

Larry FitzgeraldJan 29 05:52p

Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald's new contract should be able to get worked out this offseason, according to team president Michael Bidwill. 'Larry and I have met about it, [ More ]

Earl ThomasJan 29 01:12p

Seattle Seahawks FS Earl Thomas (shoulder) was administered a human growth hormone test by the league Wednesday, Jan. 28, and he believes it was directed at him after he [ More ]

Austin CollieJan 29 03:33a

Free-agent WR Austin Collie (Patriots) signed a contract with the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League on Wednesday, Jan. 28.

Tom BradyJan 28 12:33p

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady (illness) admitted that he is currently battling a cold, but he said he expects to be 100% ready for the Super Bowl Sunday, [ More ]

Brandon MebaneJan 27 11:23p

Seattle Seahawks DL Brandon Mebane (hamstring) said Tuesday, Jan. 27, that his hamstring surgery went well and he should be full go for the team's offseason program in April.

Richard ShermanJan 27 11:23p

Seattle Seahawks CB Richard Sherman (elbow) has torn ligaments in his elbow, but he is improving daily and he is no longer receiving treatment for the injury.

LeGarrette BlountJan 27 08:33p

New England Patriots RB LeGarrette Blount should be a factor in Super Bowl XLIX against the Seattle Seahawks Sunday, Feb. 1, in the opinion of Boston Herald writer Karen [ More ]

Adrian PetersonJan 27 07:43p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson was directed by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to meet with a league-assigned psychiatrist following Peterson's suspension. The National Football League Players Association is now [ More ]

Rob GronkowskiJan 27 12:23p

New England Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski is an offensive weapon that the Seattle Seahawks are focused on shutting down during the Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 1. Seahawks head coach [ More ]

Trent RichardsonJan 27 10:43a

Indianapolis Colts RB Trent Richardson's one-game suspension for conduct detrimental to the team voided the guarantee of a $3,184,062 salary in 2015.

Josh GordonJan 26 02:13p

Cleveland Browns WR Josh Gordon is in Stage Three of an alcohol program, which requires him to be tested for alcohol for a minimum of two years. His failed [ More ]

Rob GronkowskiJan 26 02:03p

New England Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski could cause a problem for the Seattle Seahawks during Super Bowl XLIX, because the Seahawks defense allowed 11 touchdowns to tight ends this [ More ]

Earl ThomasJan 26 02:03p

Seattle Seahawks FS Earl Thomas (shoulder) said he won't miss the Super Bowl against the New England Patriots with a dislocated shoulder, but he also admitted that it won't [ More ]

Odell Beckham Jr.Jan 26 01:52p

New York Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. (hamstring) said he'll need to shut himself down this offseason in order to enter 2015 fully healthy and in great shape. He [ More ]

Josh GordonJan 26 12:33p

Cleveland Browns WR Josh Gordon tested positive for alcohol, according to sources, and his failed test will subject him to a possible one-year suspension. Gordon caught 24 passes for [ More ]

Vontaze BurfictJan 26 12:23p

Cincinnati Bengals LB Vontaze Burfict (knee) is recovering from microfracture surgery on his left knee, and the surgeon who operated on him is hoping that he will be at [ More ]

Odell Beckham Jr.Jan 26 11:22a

New York Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. (hamstring) said he played this season with two tears in his right hamstring, which never fully healed.

Josh GordonJan 25 09:12p

Cleveland Browns WR Josh Gordon will be under contract through the 2016 season, and he will only be a restricted free agent after that year due to his looming [ More ]

Josh GordonJan 25 04:12p

Cleveland Browns WR Josh Gordon has reportedly failed another drug test and will be subject to a one-year banishment, according to multiple league sources.

Earl ThomasJan 23 09:02p

Seattle Seahawks FS Earl Thomas (shoulder) will play in the Super Bowl, head coach Pete Carroll said Friday, Jan. 23.

Dennis PittaJan 23 04:22p

Baltimore Ravens TE Dennis Pitta (hip) met with some specialists last week, but the team is not expected to have an update on his status for a few weeks, [ More ]

Johnny ManzielJan 23 01:12p

Cleveland Browns QB Johnny Manziel had a big proponent last year in owner Jimmy Haslam, but Haslam now thinks the team needs a quarterback in order to get their [ More ]

Jimmy GrahamJan 23 10:32a

New Orleans Saints TE Jimmy Graham (shoulder) said he'll rehabilitate his shoulder injury after the Pro Bowl, but he hasn't made a final decision on surgery. 'It's something we [ More ]

Mark IngramJan 22 06:42p

New Orleans Saints RB Mark Ingram, who will be eligible for free agency this offseason, wants to return to the team next year, and he thinks the interest is [ More ]

Vernon DavisJan 22 06:22p

San Francisco 49ers TE Vernon Davis had just two touchdowns in 2014, and they both came in Week 1. He also wasn't targeted at all in the red zone [ More ]

Geno SmithJan 22 05:32p

New York Jets QB Geno Smith has a lot of talent and promise, according to new head coach Todd Bowles. At the same time, Bowles acknowledged that the quarterback [ More ]

Brian HoyerJan 22 04:52p

Cleveland Browns QB Brian Hoyer could be re-signed this offseason, according to his agent. Hoyer is expected to meet with general manager Ray Farmer and offensive coordinator John DeFilippo in the near future.

Johnny ManzielJan 22 02:43p

Cleveland Browns QB Johnny Manziel will be working with a new offensive coordinator this year in John DeFilippo, but DeFilippo is unsure if the team's quarterback next year is [ More ]

Joe FlaccoJan 22 12:52p

Baltimore Ravens QB Joe Flacco will have his fourth difference offensive coordinator in as many years in offensive coordinator Marc Trestman. However, head coach John Harbaugh is confident Flacco [ More ]

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