Stills, Grubbs remain out; Cooks, Robinson continue to impress

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- TITANS BATTLE-Saints Zach Strief (64) and DE Cameron Jordan (94) battle for position in drills during Training Camp practice Tuesday at The Greenbriar in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. -- Saints wide receiver Kenny Stills and Pro Bowl left guard Ben Grubbs sat out their fifth and third full days of practice on Thursday, respectively. Stills tweaked a quad in drills on Friday at The Greenbrier resort in West Virginia and had been out since. It is not known what is wrong with Grubbs, who was limited Sunday and has not been back in drills. The only other player not… Continue reading →

Highlights and lowlights of the Saints’ first week of practice

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Saints rookie receiver Brandin Cooks, right, tries to slip past cornerback Champ Bailey during Saints training camp Friday in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va.

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. — From the moment a freight train rumbling down a nearby railroad track interrupted Saints coach Sean Payton’s opening news conference on July 24, one could tell the team’s portion of training camp at The Greenbrier resort in West Virginia would be a colorful one. Here are some of the memorable moments — for good and bad — of the first week the Saints spent preparing for their 2014 campaign in the Allegheny Mountains.… Continue reading →

Greenbrier bunker hidden piece of history

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- This meeting room in  the historic government relocation bunker at The Greenbriar built in the late 1950s was kept secret for almost 30 years. One of several relocation bunkers, the Greenbriar bunker was intended to shelter members of Congress in the event of a national emergency such as a nuclear strike.

Every night when New Orleans Saints players lay their practice-weary heads down in their rooms at The Greenbrier resort, they’re drifting off to sleep on top of one of the biggest secrets of the Cold War. In its day it was known as Project X, Project Casper and finally Project Greek Island. Today it is simply known as The Bunker, an emergency relocation facility built by the federal government at… Continue reading →

Competition brings out best in Drew Brees, quarterbacks

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Saints QBs (wearing red, non-contact jersies) Ryan Griffin (4), Drew Brees (9), Logan Kilgore (5) and Luke McCown (7) joke around before the start of  the afternoon walk-through Training Camp practice Sunday in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. — An obstacle course has sprung up on the lower field at the Saints training camp facility at The Greenbrier. There are tackling dummies, flipped-over trash cans, and cones zigzagging between the hash marks in the middle of the field. Dozens of tennis balls sit in the middle of the course, and at the end there are two targets sitting on the back line of the end zone. The set-up… Continue reading →

Jairus Byrd limited in his first practice

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Saints safety Jairus Byrd  works with a trainer at training camp Sunday in White Sulphur Springs, WVa.

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. — Even as the punts sailed the sky and then down into his grasp Tuesday, Saints safety Jairus Byrd concentrated on how this would make him better at victimizing NFL quarterbacks. “Get a punt going that high and that deep, you can track that ball,” said the three-time Pro Bowler, who practiced on the field with the Saints for the first time Tuesday since undergoing back surgery in late May. “That emulates… Continue reading →

Rabalais: QBs beating Father Time

Associated Press photo by MICHAEL CONROY In this Sept. 6, 2007, file photo, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, right, and New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees meet after the Colts won 41-10 Colts in an NFL football game in Indianapolis.

It’s said that age is just a number. That’s never more true than when you become that number. When I was a lad — we’re talking pre-cable TV, 8-track, death to disco days — quarterbacks were done by their mid-30s. Well done. It wasn’t uncommon to see Joe Namath drop back to pass and lose an elbow or some other key body part. Johnny Unitas played until he… Continue reading →

Camp Report: Brandin Cooks’ quickness turning heads

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Saints rookie receiver Brandin Cooks streaks down the field after catching a Drew Brees pass during training camp Tuesday at The Greenbriar in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va.

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. — Five days into Saints training camp, first-round draft pick Brandin Cooks is starting to earn NFL respect. It’s what occurs after making receptions like Cooks did Tuesday morning at The Greenbrier Resort, where he used speed, quickness and the ability to transition from one to the other to catch a Drew Brees pass near the sideline. Cornerback Champ Bailey was in bump-and-run coverage, the future… Continue reading →

Between the lines from Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Five observations from Tuesday’s practice session: 1 -- Defensive tackle Brandon Deaderick was 0-for-5 in one-on-one drills. Linebacker Rufus Johnson had the best pass rush of the day, using a spin move to beat Thomas Welch. 2 -- Khiry Robinson continues to catch the eye. Very fluid runner who continues to stand out. 3 -- Long shot fullback Austin Johnson continues to show good hands. He caught a short pass and… Continue reading →

Saints camp rail from Tuesday, July 29, 2014

In this 2008 photo released by the University of Alabama Athletics, college football player Brandon Deaderick is shown. Deaderick was hospitalized in good condition on Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2009, after being shot in the arm during a robbery attempt at an off-campus apartment on Monday night, Aug. 31,  in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Brad Fisher, a spokesman for DCH Regional Medical Center, said he would likely be released within a day. (AP Photo/Univ of Alabama Athletics, Kent Gidley) ** EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO SALES **

A closer look at Brandon Deaderick Position: Nose tackle Years in the NFL: 5 Acquired: 2014 (FA-Jacksonville) College: Alabama Career highlights: In 2010, Deaderick helped the Crimson Tide win a BCS Championship. Playing for the New England Patriots, he also sacked New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning in the Super Bowl at the end of the 2011 season. Strengths: He’s serviceable playing nose tackle, defensive tackle and defensive… Continue reading →

Defying their age

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Saints QB Drew Brees throws in passing drills during the morning Saints Training Camp practice Saturday in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.

A look at three of the NFL’s top quarterbacks, all going strong in their mid- to late-30s. Drew Brees New Orleans Saints Age to start season: 35 2013 stats: 446 of 650, 5,162 yards, 39 touchdowns, 12 interceptions Peyton Manning Denver Broncos

Video: Byrd's return is huge, Cooks makes big plays

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Saints T Bryce Harris (79), center,  checks his reads during the morning Saints Training Camp practice Sunday in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.

Advocate's sportswriters Scott Rabalais, Ramon Antonio Vargas and Nick Underhill talk about how Saints safety Jairus Byrd practiced for the first time and how rookie receiver Brandin Cooks made big plays in the team's practice on Tuesday. Continue reading →

Evasive about back problem, Byrd focused on making impact

New Orleans Saints free safety Jairus Byrd (31) reacts during there NFL football training camp in White Sulphur Springs , W. Va., Sunday, July 27, 2014. (AP Photo/Chris Tilley)

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. — After participating in his first Saints training camp practice on Tuesday, safety Jairus Byrd was evasive with questions about the back surgery that had sidelined him since May, causing him to miss on-field work through the offseason. “It’s an issue that needed to be taken care — that’s all I’ll say,” said Byrd, who coach Sean Payton indicated had to go under the knife to address a problematic spinal disk.… Continue reading →

Byrd, Meachem, Rooks return, WR battle still tight

New Orleans Saints wide receiver Nick Toon (88) receives a pass next to cornerback Champ Bailey (27) during NFL football training camp in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., Sunday, July 27, 2014. (AP Photo/Chris Tilley)

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. -- Jairus Byrd is back. Until Tuesday, the New Orleans Saints safety had been nothing but a name on the roster after being signed as a free agent this offseason. But now, finally, the ink has sprung to life. After missing organized team activities and minicamp, Byrd put on his jersey and pads for the first time as a member of the Saints Tuesday morning. Byrd lined up at safety,… Continue reading →

Byrd returns to Saints practice on Tuesday

New Orleans Saints' Jairus Byrd (31) catches a pass during NFL football training camp in White Sulphur Springs, W. Va., Friday, July 25, 2014. (AP Photo/Chris Tilley) ORG XMIT: WVCT114  Jairus Byrd

Saints safety Jairus Byrd wore pads and took the field Tuesday morning for the first time since undergoing a surgery to repair a problematic disk in his back in late May. Byrd was sidelined for all offseason practices as well as minicamp in June while he recovered. Byrd’s first work on the field with the Saints since joining them on a six-year, $54 million free-agent deal in March was lining up with the 1s on defense in a walkthrough. He hinted… Continue reading →

Saints camp: Tuesday morning briefing (July 29)

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Saints head coach Sean Payton shows his approval to CB Brian Dixon (44) after a special teams play during Saints training camp practice Monday morning in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. -- The New Orleans Saints are almost through their first phase of training camp. Today marks the fifth practice of the week, and per the rules of the collective bargaining agreement, the Saints must take a mandatory day off Wednesday. ABOUT YESTERDAY: After fighting off the rain Sunday, the Saints were able to stay dry during Monday’s session. Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan let his displeasure with his unit be known during a… Continue reading →

Nick Toon works on receiving skills to score roster spot

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Saints wide receiver Nick Toon makes a catch as outside linebacker Parys Haralson defends during Saints training camp practice Monday morning in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va.

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. — Saints receiver Nick Toon said he realizes there’s more than one way to earn the quarterback’s trust, his primary goal this preseason. Wideouts can position themselves in the right places. They can make crafty adjustments on their routes to shake a defender and get open. They can spend extra time after practice working on timing and rhythm. Yet none do the trick quite like simply catching the football.… Continue reading →

Rabalais: Running game advances will be critical to offensive health

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Saints fullback Erik Lorig works in drills during training camp Monday morning in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va. The Saints hope that Lorig, whether through carries or blocking, can help improve their running game.

“It doesn’t matter whether you’re the lion or a gazelle — when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.” — Christopher McDougall WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. — Up and down a flinty hillside path at his team’s training camp facility Monday, New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton ran in what looked like a haphazard relay with several members of his coaching staff. Up the hill near the team’s headquarters,… Continue reading →

Victor Butler working to regain form for Saints

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNISSaints outside linebacker Victor Butler jogs to a drill during practice Sunday in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va.

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. — Once the offseason leader of a new-look Saints defense, outside linebacker Victor Butler is now competing against himself. I’m worried that a cut block might send me back to the doctor. Even end my career. I don’t want to go back to rehab.… Continue reading →

Jonathan Goodwin, Tim Lelito pushing each other to be better

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Saints center Jonathan Goodwin prepares to snap the ball during practice Sunday in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va.

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. — It would be easy for Jonathan Goodwin to treat Tim Lelito as a threat to his job, because, well, that’s exactly what he is. The competition at center between these two men is as fierce as any battle unfolding in the New Orleans Saints training camp, yet Goodwin, who was imported from San Francisco this offseason after an earlier stint with the Saints, has been willing… Continue reading →

Saints camp tidbits: Tuesday, July 29

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNISSaints outside linebacker Ronald Powell reads the offense before a play during Saints training camp practice Monday morning in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.

A few minutes with ... Ronald Powell The Saints’ rookie outside linebacker and fifth-round draft choice reflects on his NFL transition, his football idol and his beard: The Advocate: What is the transition from college football to the NFL like? Does it compare to moving from middle school to high school? Does it compare to moving from high school to college? Ronald Powell: As far as being the young guy, the small guy… Continue reading →

Between the lines: Five observations from Monday’s practice

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNISSaints receiver Joe Morgan stretches for an overthrown pass from Drew Brees during practice Sunday as Champ Bailey and Keenan Lewis defend.

Five observations from Monday’s practice session: 1 CB Keenan Lewis, an Algiers native, was the star of practice after breaking up consecutive passes. Rob Ryan’s congratulations: “Come on, West Bank!” 2Undrafted rookie S Pierre Warren continued his challenge for a roster spot, picking off a tipped pass and otherwise excelling in drills. 3Vying to start at center,… Continue reading →

Payton says Meachem, Grubbs could be back "in the next day or so"

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS --Saints  CB Patrick Robinson (21) provides coverage as WR Robert Meachem (17) goes out for a pass  during the afternoon walk-through practice Saturday in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. At left is S Rafael Bush (25) .

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. — Veteran Saints wide receiver Robert Meachem is expected to be back “in the next day or so” after missing practices Sunday and Monday, and the same is true of Pro Bowl left guard Ben Grubbs after he was sidelined Monday, coach Sean Payton said. Meachem had been dealing with back tightness, and Grubbs was being given veteran rest, Payton has said. They each watched Monday’s activities in shorts and without pads.… Continue reading →

Video: Warren turns heads, Lewis excels Monday

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNISSaints receiver Joe Morgan stretches for an overthrown pass from Drew Brees during practice Sunday as Champ Bailey and Keenan Lewis defend.

Advocate sportswriters Scott Rabalais, Ramon Antonio Vargas and Nick Underhill go over the highs and lows from the Saints' second training camp practice in pads on Monday. Continue reading →

Video: Payton says special teams solid on Monday

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Saints head coach Sean Payton chats with professional golfer and two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson, left during the morning Saints Training Camp practice Sunday in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. Watching practice at right is team owner Tom Benson (seated in cart) and his wife Gayle.

Saints coach Sean Payton talks about how the team’s special teams did some good things, but there are a lot of things the coaches can work with the players on after the second padded practice.Continue reading →