By BRIAN ALLEE-WALSH
Special to The Advocate
METAIRIE – The new collective bargaining agreement essentially has turned this week’s minicamp — all five mandatory, full squad workouts — into “glorified’’ organized team activities, Saints players and coaches said.
The current CBA, a 10-year agreement that extends through the 2020 season, allows players to spend a maximum of 3 1/2 hours on the field each day of minicamp, with only 2 1/2 of those hours devoted to full-speed activity.
Two-a-day practices have been effectively eliminated, as any second practices are limited to non-helmet walkthroughs. Shells and shoulders pads are not allowed at any time.
“I’ll live with it as long as everybody else is playing by the same rules,” Saints assistant head coach Joe Vitt said between workouts Tuesday. “As long as we’re on the same level playing field, then I’m OK with it.”
Several players said they understand the rationale behind the changes because less offseason demands can actually extend players’ careers. But some observers see this as a first step for the league to extend the regular season from 16 games to 18 games.
“Some days you don’t mind (less physical work),” defensive tackle Remi Ayodele said. “Then some days, you really do feel like you need that work. But I see why they did it. You feel a lot healthier the next day, so I’m not against it.”
Saints defensive end Junior Galette shared Ayodele’s sentiment.
“I’m definitely for it because I think it can extend guys’ careers, so that’s good for the game of football,” Galette said. “Guys who normally might play six or seven years now maybe can play longer.”
PERSONNEL MATTERS: Saints officials added veteran free agent cornerback Elbert Mack to their offseason roster, signing him to a one-year contract.
Mack (5-10, 175) has spent the past four seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after making their 53-man roster as an undrafted rookie out of Troy in 2008. He has played in 58 games, made four starts and collected 77 tackles (65 solo), five interceptions, 11 pass defenses and 30 special teams tackles.
Last season, he appeared in 16 games with one start as he saw extensive action in nickel and dime packages for Tampa Bay. He finished with 27 tackles (23 solo), two interceptions, one returned for a touchdown, six pass defenses and two special teams stops.
The club also waived defensive tackle Mitch King.
TWO IN FOR TRYOUTS: Quarterback Luke McCown and running back Joe Banyard are participating in the minicamp on a tryout basis.
“For me, I’m just out here to compete and to put my best foot forward,” McCown said. “Hopefully, they like what they see and we’ll go from there. This is a tryout. It’s what it is. They want to take a closer look at what I’m about and what I can do, and we’ll see where it goes from here.”
McCown last played for the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2011. He played at Louisiana Tech and was drafted by the Cleveland Browns in the fourth round of the 2004 NFL draft. He also has played for Tampa Bay (2005-2008) before being picked up by Jacksonville.
He is the younger brother of Chicago Bears quarterback Josh McCown and former Texas A&M quarterback Randy McCown .
INJURY REPORT: Three players did not participate in the morning session: middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma (knee), linebacker Jonathan Casillas (back) and running back Mark Ingram (knee). The afternoon consisted of a 90-minute walkthrough.