Wednesday morning practice now open to fans

METAIRIE – Saints officials announced that Wednesday morning’s practice at the team’s training facility, which they previously said would be closed to the public, will now be open to fans.

Practice is scheduled from 8:50 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. — weather permitting. Gates open 45 minutes before the workout begins.

For daily training camp updates, including news about weather issues, visit www.neworleanssaints.com or click on Twitter @Saints.

Saints make adjustments to training camp schedule

METAIRIE – The Saints announced Monday night that they have tweaked the practice schedule for the remainder of this week.

Practices scheduled for Tuesday through Friday at the team’s training facility are now scheduled to begin at 8:50 a.m. rather than the previously-announced 4 p.m. start.

Also, Wednesday’s practice, which was originally scheduled to be open to fans, will be closed. Workouts on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday will run from 8:50-11:30 a.m. and are open to the public — weather permitting.

For more information, or for daily updates, visit www.neworleanssaints.com or Twitter @Saints.

Former LSU assistant Jenkins helping Saints coaches

METAIRIE – After 38 seasons as a college and pro football coach, former LSU defensive line coach Pete Jenkins never seems to be too far away from the game — even in his second retirement.

Three years after completing a three-year stint as the Philadelphia Eagles’ defensive line coach, his only NFL job, the soon-to-be 71-year-old Jenkins has been a fixture at training camps the past four summers.

This time, Jenkins is midway through a two-week camp stay with the Saints after working the past three summers with the St. Louis Rams.

With the Saints, the affable Jenkins has been reunited with two of his old coaching buddies — new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo and defensive line coach Bill Johnson.

Spagnuolo was on the Eagles’ staff in 2006 with Jenkins before leaving to join the New York Giants. He invited Jenkins to come to camp when he was the Rams’ head coach from 2009-11.

Jenkins, who splits time between his residences in Baton Rouge and Destin, Fla., goes back with Johnson a lot longer than that. They forged a friendship back in the early 1980s, in the first of Jenkins’ two stints at LSU.

“Bill and I been talking football since Moby Dick was a minnow,” Jenkins said with a laugh. “So they invited me down to spend some time and do some coaching out here for them.”

ROBINSON LEAVES EARLY: Starting right cornerback Patrick Robinson tweaked his shoulder midway through Sunday’s practice and was taken in to the locker room to be evaluated by team doctors.

Interim head coach Joe Vitt had no update on Robinson after he left when he came down awkwardly while covering wide receiver Adrian Arrington during team drills.

Robinson’s replacement, Johnny Patrick, left briefly when he cramped up after making a leaping interception against Drew Brees in team drills. Patrick, however, returned before the practice ended.

PLAY OF THE DAY: Patrick made the play of the day when he covered wide receiver Courtney Roby, who was trying to catch a pass from Brees while cutting across the field in team drills.

Patrick followed Roby closely and undercut Roby’s route, pulling in the interception as he crashed to the turf.

It was the second straight day that Patrick had an interception in practice as he got one off backup quarterback Chase Daniel on Saturday.

EYE-CATCHING: Brees did produce two nice plays back-to-back early in team drills, drawing oohs and aahs from a large crowd.

Wide receiver Devery Henderson made a nice over-the-shoulder catch on a well-placed throw by Brees despite tight coverage by Robinson.

On the next play, Brees threw over Robinson again with Arrington making the grab on the play that Robinson was injured on.

INJURY REPORT: Rookie defensive tackle Akiem Hicks didn’t practice again Sunday, but Vitt said he should be able to work on his conditioning Monday after missing the first four days of camp with a fractured hand.

Also sitting out was tight end David Thomas, who did not work for the third straight day with a lower back strain. Vitt said Thomas is getting better, but they don’t want to rush him back.

GETTING A BREAK: After baking in the heat and humidity for the past two days, the Saints will get a respite Monday — at least from the sun — with no practice scheduled.

They will return to the practice field at 4 p.m. Tuesday, the first of four straight practices that will be open to the public — weather permitting.

PACKING THEM IN: The first two training camp practices open to the public drew 2,314 fans on Saturday and 4,144 on Sunday, team officials said.

Brees helps teammates, fans beat the heat

METAIRIE – Saints quarterback Drew Brees had a cool surprise for his teammates and fans who finally got to see them practice Saturday afternoon at the team’s training facility.

Brees, who received an NFL-record five-year, $100 million contract on July 15, treated coaches, players and fans to snowballs from Plum Street Snowballs in uptown New Orleans.

Fans were served for two hours from a makeshift stand set up outside the gates of the training facility and players got the same treatment near the entrance of their locker room after the 21/2-hour practice.

“Drew came in one day last week and asked us if we could do it,” said Plum Street owner Donna Black.

Brees said he wanted to do something for the fans, especially after the first two open practices on Thursday and Friday were forced indoors because of rain.

“I just wanted to do something special for them,” he said, “just cool them off on a hot summer day while they watch their boys play football.”

BACK IN PADS: After working for three days in soft gear and helmets, as mandated by the collective bargaining agreement, the Saints donned full gear for the first time Saturday.

“We’ve been chomping at the bit to get back on the field,” Brees said. “We had a couple of days of pretty extensive walkthroughs, a lot of meeting time, just installing a lot of the offense and defense.

“It is camp, it is that mindset. We are here to work, we are here to get better, we are here to prepare ourselves for, hopefully, a great season. We see the opportunity in front of us and this is the first step.”

EYE-CATCHING: Cornerback Jabari Greer had two interceptions Saturday, including one off Brees when he tried to toss the ball out in the flat to fullback Jed Collins when Greer jumped the route and ran untouched for a touchdown.

Two player later, wide receiver Marques Colston helped Brees make up for it when he went high to make a catch and cradled the ball to his chest while cornerback Elbert Mack gave chase.

Later, cornerback Johnny Patrick, who was rushing the passer on a zone blitz, jumped up and snared an interception off Chase Daniel.

GREER COY: Greer could only smile when asked about his interception against Brees.

“I’m not going to give away my secret formula,” Greer said, “but it’s something as a cornerback you hope the quarterback throws. Fortunately, he threw it, but you have to realize we know how good Drew is and we know he doesn’t make that mistake too many times.”

Brees said he was so angry about the interception that he asked offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael Jr. to get back at Greer on the next play.

“Pete called the play and I said, ‘Can I call this instead because I want to throw one over the top of Jabari?’ ” Brees said. “He got depth, so we weren’t able to get past him. But I was looking to make him pay the very next time.”

INJURY REPORT: Interim head coach Joe Vitt said the Saints hope to get rookie defensive tackle Akiem Hicks back on the field Tuesday.

The team’s third-round draft pick is recovering from a fractured right hand, an injured he suffered during organized team activities in June. The Saints will practice Sunday, but are off Monday.

Also missing Saturday’s workout was tight end David Thomas, who sat out a second straight practice with a lower back strain.

STORK REPORT: Brees said his wife, Brittany, is expecting their third child — another boy to go with sons Baylen (3) and Bowen (21 months) — on Aug. 19.

But it could be sooner, he said, which could impact his play in the first two exhibition games. After next Sunday’s Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio, the Saints will fly directly to Foxborough, Mass., to practice with the New England Patriots in advance of their Aug. 9 preseason game.

“She’s ready,” a smiling Brees said. “If that baby comes, I’m coming back.”

Payton message to Saints coming in loud and clear

METAIRIE – When the Saints walked into their indoor practice facility for Friday’s practice, they found suspended coach Sean Payton staring intently at them.

Well, he wasn’t actually there. But a larger-than-life photo of Payton patrolling the sideline in Super Bowl XLIV was affixed to a wall high above the field. Etched on the picture were the words Payton left his coaches and players with when he had to leave the team in April: “Do Your Job.”

Interim head coach Joe Vitt said the photo, which was the idea of team owner Tom Benson, was from the third quarter of the Super Bowl after Indianapolis Colts tight end Dallas Clark caught a pass.

“He’s looking at me,” Vitt said as reporters chuckled. “Now, if you ask every player on our roster and anybody on our roster, they’ll tell you he’s looking at them.

“Everybody here has gotten that look,” he added. “The lips are pursed, the eyes are squinted, and he’s looking right through the back of your head.”

When asked what it’s like to get that look, Vitt said, “It’s not good … it’s not good.”

“It’s scary,” running back Pierre Thomas said. “He doesn’t look happy.”

MORSTEAD SIGNS DEAL: Punter and kickoff man Thomas Morstead, who agreed to a six-year, $21.9 million contract extension with the team late Thursday night, said he was a little nervous at practice Friday.

While Morstead was happy with the contract that will run through 2018, he couldn’t help but think about what could go wrong during practice.

“I thought if I had a bad practice, they might take (the offer) back,” he said.

Morstead, a fourth-year pro who was going into the final year of the rookie contract he signed after being chosen in the fifth round of the 2009 draft, said team officials contacted his agent four or five days earlier.

“They threw out an initial offer, and it was a good enough offer that I knew they were pretty serious,” said Morstead, who set a club record with a 48.3-yard average last year and had an NFL-high 68 touchbacks on kickoffs.

MESSAGE RECEIVED: Coaches, players and other team personnel have been sporting gray T-shirts with the same Payton message on the front and back.

The shirt’s front has a gold fleur-de-lis with the “Do Your Job” mantra, while the back has words “Everything Matters” on it.

“Hey, listen, Sean and Mickey (Loomis) built this program,” Vitt said. “We’re doing everything that Sean would do and we’ll try to do it without him right now. We’ll try to make him proud, and that’s just a reminder.”

MORE RAIN: For the second straight day, the Saints had to move practice to the indoor facility after rain and torrential thunderstorms rolled through the area just before noon.

“I feel terrible for our fans, but that’s just the way it is,” Vitt said. “The (grass) field is soggy and there’s no footing out there.”

Vitt said the team will attempt to practice outside Saturday at 4 p.m., weather permitting. Fans are urged to check the team’s website at www.neworleanssaints.com or Twitter @Saints for updates.

EYE-CATCHING: The best play of team drills Friday came when cornerback Patrick Robinson challenged tight end Jimmy Graham for the ball on a deep pass down the left sideline, which resulted in an interception.

Robinson read the ball all the way from Drew Brees’ hand and came away with the pick before falling out of bounds.

Earlier, tight end Michael Higgins had a nice catch over the middle from Brees despite tight man-to-man coverage by strong safety Roman Harper.

INJURY REPORT: Tight end David Thomas did not work Friday because of a lower back strain, but Vitt said he’s expected to return Saturday or Sunday, while defensive tackle Akiem Hicks was held out again with his fractured hand.

Also, running back Mark Ingram was limited in practice as he continues to come back from arthroscopic knee surgery in early May.

“We are going to take him into it slowly,” Vitt said. “We’ve got to remember that we’ve got five preseason games. We’ve got the extra game and we’re going to bring him along at the proper pace.”

PADS GO ON: Saturday’s workout, regardless of whether it’s inside or out, will be in full pads for the first time.

According to the new collective bargaining agreement, teams must hold three days of practice in helmets and shorts.

Pierre Thomas said the players are eager to turn things up a notch.

“I definitely am, just to see what everybody has,” he said. “It’s a different story when you have soft pads. When you put pads on it’s a whole different story. You really see the skills the guys have, especially the younger guys.”

MORA OBSERVES PRACTICE: Former Saints coach Jim Mora was a visitor to Friday’s practice.

As he has done for the last few seasons, Mora does pregame work for WDSU-TV, the New Orleans NBC affiliate, when the network carries Saints’ games.

Saints’ Friday practice now closed to public

METAIRIE – Late-morning and early afternoon thunderstorms forced the Saints to move Friday’s scheduled 4 p.m. workout to their indoor practice facility.

As a result, the practice is now closed to the public for the second straight day.

The next practice scheduled to be open to fans is at 4 p.m. Saturday. Check the team’s website at www.neworleanssaints.com and also Twitter @Saints for daily updates.

RB Ingram encouraged in return to practice field

METAIRIE – In the first full practice of training camp, Saints running back Mark Ingram didn’t look like a player who’s had two surgeries in the last 6 1/2 months.

Surgery to repair a turf toe injury and a clean-up procedure on his right knee in early May forced Ingram to miss the team’s entire offseason program, but he still reached his goal of being 100 percent for the first full-speed practice Thursday afternoon.

Even though interim head coach Joe Vitt said Tuesday the second-year pro would be monitored closely in the early stages of training camp, Ingram turned it loose and felt good about it afterwards.

“I felt a little rusty (Wednesday) in the walkthrough, but I’m knocking the rust off one day at a time,” Ingram said after a 2-hour, 25-minute workout that was moved indoors because of lightning and torrential rain. “We did team run and team drills, and I hit my reads and hit the hole fast. I was running through the hole with some power.

“It was very encouraging and it felt good to be able to get out there and run the ball again.”

Fellow running back Chris Ivory, who took things easy in the offseason because of a hamstring injury, also looked good Thursday, Vitt said.

“Mark looked good in the conditioning tests (Wednesday) and I thought they had a good first day,” Vitt said. “Now this is a process and this is the first day, but for their first day they performed very well.”

BACKING VILMA: Vitt and four defensive players were in federal court in downtown New Orleans on Thursday to testify for middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma, who is trying to get a temporary restraining order to join the team in training camp.

Vilma has been banned for the 2012 season by for his role in the bounty scandal, but is asking to rejoin the team to rehab his surgically-repaired knee at the Saints training facility while trying to have the suspension overturned.

Linebackers Scott Shanle and Jonathan Casillas, safety Roman Harper and defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis left the training facility around 1 p.m. to back Vilma and didn’t return until 4:45 p.m. — 45 minutes after practice began.

“J.V. asked me to do it, so I didn’t mind,” said Shanle, who noted that the players testified between five and 10 minutes each. “A lot of players and a lot of people think he’s been done wrong and the punishment doesn’t fit the crime. It was nothing major, but we all hope something positive comes from it.”

Also testifying on Vilma’s behalf were two former teammates — cornerback Randall Gay and linebacker Troy Evans.

HICKS HELD OUT: As expected, rookie defensive tackle Akiem Hicks was the only player who didn’t participate in Thursday’s practice.

Hicks, the team’s third-round draft pick this spring, fractured his hand in organized team activities in June. Vitt said Hicks is expected to be on the field Sunday or Monday, but can only participate in non-padded practices for the first three days.

“We’ve just got to wait and see,” Vitt said. “It’s a long training camp and he’s going to get to play in some preseason games. So let’s not rush him back to the table. Let’s make sure he’s healed and see what goes on.”

EYE-CATCHING: Backup quarterback Chase Daniel was involved in two of the biggest plays of the day in team drills.

Daniel threw a deep ball for wide receiver Joe Morgan that he bought in over cornerback Corey White, a fifth-round draft picks, after completing a long pass to free agent Chris Givens, who made the grab despite getting his feet tangled up with cornerback Johnny Patrick.

Drew Brees and Lance Moore also connected on a nice pass as free safety Malcolm Jenkins muffed an interception, which allowed Moore to come up with the catch while falling to the turf.

RAINY DAY: When the Saints return to the practice field at 4 p.m. Friday, they hope to be working on the outdoor grass fields for the fans after being chased indoors by rain and lightning Thursday.

Practices that have to be moved inside because of weather issues are closed to the public.

“We were looking forward to getting out there in front of them today,” Vitt said. “We enjoy going to play in front of them just as much as they enjoy coming out to see us. But for their safety, we just wanted to make that decision as early as we could.”

With new contract in hand, Brees ready to go

METAIRIE – Nine days after signing the richest contract in NFL history, Saints quarterback Drew Brees was relaxed and ready to go when he reported to training camp Tuesday.

Facing the local media for the first time since he received a five-year, $100 million deal from the team, which includes a league-record $60 million in guaranteed money, Brees said he couldn’t wait to get to work after sitting out the team’s offseason program.

“I’m excited … I’m always excited. I love football. I love to compete,” Brees said of looking forward to the first day of practice Thursday. “The last three offseasons have been weird for different reasons. One was after the Super Bowl (in 2009). Last year was the lockout and then this year.”

This spring was more difficult for the team considering the loss of coach Sean Payton for the season for his role in the pay-for-performance scheme and all the controversy that has surrounded the team.

“I’m excited about the unknown because in a lot of ways, we don’t necessarily know what to expect,” Brees said. “With all this stuff swirling around us, in the end, all we can worry about is what we can control and focus on the process and the result will take care of itself.

“I know the type of guys we have. I know the coaches we have. I’m excited to watch it all come together in training camp as it always does.”

STILL THE SAME: Brees said everything will be business as usual despite the drawn-out process that led to often-contentious negotiations and getting a long-term deal just three days before the July 16 deadline.

“To me it’s business as usual, I’ll be honest,” he said. “You might look at me and think I’m crazy, especially after the way the whole contract process went this entire offseason, the ups and downs and how it was dragged out to the last minute.

“But I could not wait to get back here, to get back to work, to get back to playing football, to get back being around the guys in the locker room, on the field, with the fans and just soaking it all in again and enjoying the moment.”

Brees had a story to tell, he said, that proved everything’s the same after he had agreed to the contract.

“The minute I got off the phone, I changed (son) Bowen’s diaper,” he said. “I then went downstairs and did a load of whites in the washer. And then I went upstairs and put (son) Baylen’s lunch in the refrigerator. … Didn’t jump up and down. Didn’t do anything.”

VILMA SET FOR COURT: The Saints on Tuesday put middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma, who was suspended by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for the entire season on May 2, on the reserve/suspended list.

Since being banned for his role in the pay-for-performance scheme the NFL said members of the Saints’ defense were involved in from 2009-11, Vilma has been embroiled in a legal battle with Goodell and the league.

Vilma, who had an appeal denied by Goodell, will be in federal court in New Orleans on Thursday to ask for a temporary restraining order to rejoin the team claiming Goodell did not act on his appeal in a timely manner.

Interim coach Joe Vitt and Brees have already filed affidavits in support of Vilma, who cannot get treatment at the team’s training facility for a knee injury that he suffered last fall and has had three surgeries on.

VITT TO TESTIFY: Vitt said he will head downtown Thursday between the team’s first two practice sessions to speak on Vilma’s behalf.

“I know Jonathan Vilma’s intent, I know his work habits, I know his leadership qualities, I know what he means to this team,” Vitt said as he began to get emotional. “He’s always put his teammates and his team first, and I stand behind Jonathan Vilma.”

Vitt, who is suspended for the first six games of the regular season for misleading investigators looking into the bounty scandal, has been Vilma’s position coach since the Saints acquired him from the New York Jets in 2008.

MOVING ON: Saints strong safety Roman Harper said the team has no option but to go on without Vilma, one of the team captains on defense, at least for now.

“I don’t know all the ins and outs of it completely, so it’s been very hard for me to try and keep up,” Harper said. “It seems like it’s something else every day or so. I just know when all the chips fall, it all works out in my man’s favor.

“I’ve got his back 100 percent and whatever I can do to try and help him or anything like that I’m all with him. It’s just been crazy, so up and down, but trust me — I’ve got his back. I was in that (meeting) room, so I know what was going on.”

ROSTER MOVES: While players checked in throughout the day Tuesday, Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis was making a few minor tweaks to the 90-man roster that will take the field Thursday.

In addition to putting Vilma on the reserve/suspended list, the Saints signed veteran tight end Derek Schouman, who has played with the Buffalo Bills and St. Louis Rams, and wide receiver Marques Clark. They also waived undrafted free agent wide receiver wide receiver Kevin Hardy.

HICKS SIDELINED: Vitt said rookie defensive tackle Akiem Hicks, the team’s top draft pick this spring, will miss the first few days of practice with a fractured hand that he suffered during organized team activities in June.

Vitt said Hicks, a third-round draft pick, may start camp on the physically-unable-to-perform list. But he’s expected to be available for practice either Sunday or Monday, Vitt said.

Also, Vitt noted that running back Mark Ingram, who had arthroscopic knee surgery in May, will be monitored closely early in camp.

WHAT’S NEXT?: After a team meeting Tuesday night, the Saints will have more meetings and conditioning tests Wednesday before the first practice on Thursday.

A walkthrough, which is closed to the public and media, will be held in the morning. The second practice, which is open, is scheduled from 4 p.m. to 6:45 p.m.

Fans are reminded that practices moved to the indoor facility because of weather concerns will be closed.

Breakdown on Brees’ new contract released

The base salaries on the five-year, $100 million contract Drew Brees signed Sunday with the Saints have been reported to the NFL Players Association.

According to NFLPA figures, Brees will earn $3 million in base salary for the upcoming season, which will be followed with bases of $9.75 million in 2013, $10.75 million in ’14 and $18.75 million and $19.75 million, respectively, in the deal’s final two years in 2015 and ’16.

Saints quarterback Drew Brees

Also, Brees, who received a $37 million signing bonus, will collect $250,000 in workout bonuses for each of the final four years of the contract.

That sets the Saints’ cap hit for each year of the contract at $10.4 million for 2012, $17.4 million (2013), $18.4 million (2014), $26.4 million (2015) and $27.4 million (2016).