Too many players are getting too many reps in the 90-degree heat. "We have three corners practicing by the end of practice," said Payton after Monday's shortened workout. "We have three offensive linemen playing two positions. Three tackles. It was more depth at a few positions. They are handling 75-80 per of the snaps and it becomes different."
Payton said receiver and linebacker are the deepest positions right now. The coach believes tight end Jimmy Newman is headed for a banner season because he has had two seasons of football (he played football at Miami one year), but he's learning fast. "Most of the guys have been playing football 10- 12 years," said Payton.
As a novice rookie last season, he caught fire in the second half of the schedule and finished with 31 receptions for 356 yards and 5 touchdowns, which led to the Saints releasing Jeremy Shockey, who was entering the downside of his career.
He worked out with linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar this summer in Florida. Weightlifting enabled him to gain 10 pounds and he now is 6-foot-6 and 265 pounds.
"Toward the end of last season, Jimmy became a guy that we game-planned for," said quarterback Drew Brees. "We tried to create opportunities for him. I think he sees the opportunity he has as a second-year player. As young, athletic and smart as he is, the sky is the limit for him, and we're goingg to give him every opportunity possible."
He was wide-eyed when he reported to camp last season. "The big thing for me is cutting down on the mental mistakes I made last year." said Graham.. "I had to get stronger and learn to stay low. Jo-Lonn worked with me on that. I'm excited and focused for the opportunity I'm getting, and I'm going to take full advantage of it. I've got to improve my blocking, too. I'm getting ready for the Green Bay game."
The Saints have signeds free agent defensive end Turk McBride. "He is a high-energy player, is disruptive, plays with great effort, and probably had one of his better seasons last year," said Payton. "He is the type of player we're looking for in that he understands completely what his strengths are. You will like what you see when you see his practice habits and the way he goes about his job."
Starting center Jonathan Goodwin is seeing what other teams wil offer him before he re-sings with the Saints. The Saints drafted Matt Tennant two years ago as a future replacenent for Goodwin.
"Has he shown enough where you could turn the page on Godwin?" a pressboxer asked Payton.
"No, we couldn't possible do that," answered the coach. "You couldn't possibly do that in two practices. We think he's make progress, but there are a lot of snaps he needs. He is handling the starting center job well. He is a smart player. He knows our system now being in his second year. Those reps for him have been real valuable."
SAINTS NOTEBOOK: The same players remain on the failed physical list: Charles Brown, Chris Ivory, Tracy Porter, Greg Romeus and Carl Johnson. Players that didn't practice on Monday: Josh Gatlin (thumb and knee); Jeremiah Hunter (Achilles); Michael Galatas (knee)...The Saints have come to terms with linebacker Clint Ingram. "He is going to be healthier than he was last year," said Payton. He is still young, and when he was healthy, he played very well. He's another player we feel is a year removed from the injury and surgery and we feel that will benefit him a lot."