By BRIAN ALLEE-WALSH
Special to The Advocate
On a sun-splashed Tuesday in Foxborough, Mass., a crowd of nearly 15,000 watched the Saints and New England Patriots butt heads in practice, then come together in prayer in memory of the late son of Philadelphia Eagles coach Andy Reid.
Garrett Reid, 29, was found dead early Sunday morning in his dormitory room at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa., where the Eagles are holding their training camp. The elder Reid confirmed Monday that his son’s death was drug related.
“It was praying for the Reid family,” Saints strong safety Roman Harper said of the post-practice gathering by the two teams in the middle of the practice fields outside Gillette Stadium.
“It was also letting guys know how we truly are blessed to come out here and play football, no matter how hot it is, and how sore you are. … Just be happy and blessed, and understand that you are truly in an amazing position to be where you are right now. Don’t take anything for granted.”
A number of Saints officials and coaches flew in owner Tom Benson’s private jet to attend the funeral services in Broomall, Pa.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick, who also traveled to the services, and interim Saints coach Joe Vitt and defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo arrived nearly one hour late for the start of the morning workout.
“It was emotional this morning,” Vitt said. “Andy Reid is strong and his family is strong and everybody knows our thoughts and wishes are with him.”
ON TAP: The teams will hold a joint workout in shells Wednesday in preparation for Thursday night’s 6:30 p.m. exhibition game in Gillette Stadium.
It is the second time in three seasons that the teams have worked against each other in training camp. They also held joint workouts in Foxborough before a 2010 exhibition won by the Patriots, 27-24.
“I think there’s a lot of trust involved,” Vitt said. “We know what we want to get out of each day.
“The biggest thing is the players trust one another. They know that we work tempo, angles to the ball without just beating each other up. Whenever you have that trust between two teams, I think it makes it a lot more compatible.”
The crowd of 14,830 came to see a number of potential Hall of Famers, including Saints quarterback Drew Brees and Patriots quarterback Tom Brady — not to mention two of the game’s most prolific tight ends in the Saints’ Jimmy Graham and Patriots’ Rob Gronkowski.
“Those guys have established themselves as two of the best tight ends in the league,” Brees said. “Both players continue to get better and better. It’s fun to get them on the same field … from the perspective of what great athletes and great players both are.”
INJURY REPORT: A promising start to training camp has been put on hold for Saints wide receiver Adrian Arrington, who has been sidelined indefinitely with a knee injury.
Arrington was held out of Sunday night’s Hall of Fame game against Arizona with what has been described as a meniscus tear. Vitt alluded to the injury after his team’s 17-10 victory against the Cardinals, saying Arrington would seek a second opinion.
Arrington has met with noted orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews to determine the course of action.
Arrington is competing with rookie Nick Toon, special teams standout Courtney Roby and Joseph Morgan for the No. 4 spot on the depth chart vacated by the departure of free agent wide receiver Robert Meachem to the San Diego Chargers.
PRACTICE NOTES: Most observers believed the Saints got the best of the Patriots in the joint practice, including Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com, who wrote: “The Saints offense, led by quarterback Drew Brees, generally had its way with the Patriots’ defense. The Saints looked like they had a much cleaner operation.” … The Saints picked off Brady twice, middle linebacker Curtis Lofton in 7-on-7 drills and free safety Malcolm Jenkins in 11-on-11 team work.
SIGHTS AND SOUNDS: The standing-room-only crowd of 14,830 established a Patriots’ single-session record for a training camp workout. Rocker Jon Bon Jovi was in that number, signing autographs and adding to the festive occasion. … The Patriots’ roster features two former Saints draft picks — wide receiver Donte’ Stallworth and linebacker Rob Ninkovich — and former LSU running back Stevan Ridley.
LAGNIAPPE: Backup Saints quarterback Chase Daniel provided a unique analysis of the replacement officials who called Sunday night’s exhibition.
“It was sort of hard with the new refs and the TV timeouts that we had to really get in the rhythm and get into tempo on the offensive side of the football, especially when there are three hashes drawn up,” Daniel said. “They were having a little bit of trouble trying to place it on the (correct) hash.”