METAIRIE — A weekend trip to Canton, Ohio, which will include a tour of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the game itself, will mean many different things to Saints players and coaches.
To the younger players, it’ll be a chance to make an impression in the first of five preseason games when the Saints play the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday night in the annual Hall of Fame Game.
But it will mean a lot more to the 22 players and coaches who were involved in Super Bowl XLIV when they get to the museum display commemorating their victory over the Indianapolis Colts on Feb. 7, 2010.
Obviously, the display wasn’t there the last time the Saints played in the Hall of Fame Game in 2007 against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“I think it’s an exciting time,” said interim head coach Joe Vitt. “We had a great time as a team going through the Hall (in 2007). Now, we’re going to go through and we’re going to see this display up there of when we won the (Super Bowl), so our players are looking forward to seeing that.”
Former Saints tackle William Roaf is one of this year’s inductees. He, along with 2010 enshrinee Rickey Jackson, are the only Saints to go into the Hall primarily because of their careers in New Orleans.
“When we played the Steelers, there wasn’t anything Saints there,” said linebacker Scott Shanle, one of the 22 players from the Super Bowl team that will make the trip. “Now we’re going back with the display, with the championship, and two great players now are up there, too. It’s funny to see how much has changed in five years.”
BREES EXPLAINS COMMENTS: In his first meeting with local media since being quoted in an SI.com column saying players don’t trust NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Saints quarterback Drew Brees said his comments weren’t meant to be disrespectful.
“Nobody trusts him,” Brees said in a Friday interview with SI’s Peter King. “I’m not talking about a DUI or using a gun in a strip club, which are pretty clear violations.
“I think there’re too many times where the league has come to its decision in a case before calling a guy in, and the interview is just a façade. I think now if a guy has to come in to talk to Roger, he’ll be very hesitant because he’ll think the conclusion has already been reached.”
Brees said Wednesday he wasn’t going to comment further, then said, “If there is any dialogue that needs to take place, I’d talk to the commissioner directly. By no means was that meant to be disrespectful.
“I was asked direct questions about how the players felt and I gave a very honest and direct answer. I think it was blown out of proportion a little bit when people said I was bashing the commissioner. That was not the case.”
CORNERBACKS IMPRESS: Once again Wednesday, two cornerbacks that have taken on greater workloads with the loss of starters Patrick Robinson and Jabari Greer to injuries had big days.
Second-year pro Johnny Patrick, who is filling in for Robinson on the right side, had an interception off Brees in the red zone and caused wide receiver Devery Henderson to drop a pass with a jarring hit in 11-on-11 drills.
On the other side, Brees didn’t have much luck with Marquis Johnson either as he broke up two would-be touchdown passes in red-zone drills.
In 7-on-7, he poked the ball away from tight end Jimmy Graham near the goal line on a throw from Brees and batted away Brees’ fade pass for wide receiver Adrian Arrington in the corner of the end zone during team drills.
HITTING BEGINS: In order to get ready for Sunday night’s game with the Cardinals, the Saints had their first real hitting of training camp Wednesday.
The early part of the workout was devoted to 9-on-9 run drills with the first- and second-team team defenses having the upper hand in the first period.
Halfbacks Pierre Thomas, Mark Ingram and Chris Ivory were held to 17 yards on seven carries. The lone highlight was an 8-yard run by Ingram in which he used a spin move to elude linebacker Jonathan Casillas and safety Isa Abdul-Quddus.
INJURY REPORT: Robinson, who left Sunday’s practice with a shoulder injury, and Greer, who has a groin pull, both missed their second straight practice and their return is unknown.
Defensive tackles Swanson Miller (foot) and Akiem Hicks (hand) were limited in Wednesday’s practice.
ROSTER MOVE: Because of a lack of depth along the interior of the front four, the Saints brought in defensive tackle Alex Daniels and released cornerback Cord Parks.
Daniels, who has to spend the first three days in soft gear, watched as the team worked in full pads for the fourth straight practice. The 6-foot-2, 265-pounder has spent time on the practice squads of the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants.
LOUISIANA FLAVOR: The Saints have four Louisiana natives in camp, Opelousas native Henderson and three undrafted free agents — tackle Aderious Simmons (Marrero/Arizona State), defensive tackle Tyrunn Walker (New Iberia/Tulsa) and safety Jerico Nelson (Destrehan/Arkansas).