Even though he’s going into his contract year, Saints tight end Jimmy Graham is only thinking about one thing: football.
Graham, who’ll likely become the highest-paid tight end in the league either this fall or next spring, was asked about it Saturday for the second day in a row — and again downplayed the huge payday he’ll certainly get.
His next deal will likely surpass the contracts given by the New England Patriots to Rob Gronkowsi (eight years, $55.2 million) and former teammate Aaron Hernandez (five years, $40 million).
Graham said he never thought about holding out of training camp to get an extension on the rookie contract he signed in 2010 after catching 215 passes and 25 touchdowns in his first three seasons.
“To each his own … I’m the type of player that it’s just about football for me,” he said. “I just want to play, simple as that. After the season we had last year and you know now that we’re back, I just want to e a part of it. I’m going to be here and I’m going to play with everything I have.
“I’m a humble kid from very humble beginnings and I feel blessed to be in the situation I am in,” he added. “All I’m going to do is go out here and play football. That’s what I’m best at and I know the rest will just take care of itself.”
PADS GO ON: After two days of non-padded practices, the Saints will put on the full gear for Sunday’s workout.
Most of the Saints are looking forward to it, especially the coaches.
“The first thing is when you have pads on we’re able to get a little one-on-one offensive line, defensive line and pass protection drills, which are things you can’t do without the pads,” coach Sean Payton said. “It becomes a little bit more physical.”
BIG PLAYS: Several plays drew oohs and ahs from the crowd that attended Saturday’s practice after it was nearly moved indoors by a morning shower.
During a 1-on-1 pass drill, first-round draft pick Kenny Vaccaro had tight coverage on Kenny Stills. Vaccaro dove and knocked the ball away, then bounced up to his knees and signaled incomplete as fans cheered.
Later, in a 6-on-8 drill, backup inside linebacker Ramon Humber stripped the ball from tight end Benjamin Watson’s grasp and outside linebacker Baraka Atkins plucked the fumble out of the air.
BREES MAGIC: In team drills, Drew Brees and Graham teamed up for the best play of camp so far. Brees fired a perfect pass over the middle that Graham went up and pulled in with his fingertips despite good coverage from inside linebacker Curtis Lofton.
“I had perfect coverage, that’s just Drew Brees right there,” Lofton said. “He threw that back-shoulder fade and there’s no way of stopping that, especially with Jimmy. He has great hands and is a big, tall guy and he just caught it.
“I asked coach (Joe Vitt) what I could have done better, and he just said, ‘they had a good quarterback.’”
CALENDAR TO DEBUT: The Saintsations will unveil their 2014 swimsuit calendar on Wednesday, Aug. 7 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Grand Ballroom of the Royal Sonesta Hotel in New Orleans.
A limited number of tickets, which are priced at $40 per person, are available to the public. For more information, contact Shari Appel at (504) 553-2221 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Proceeds will benefit the third annual Spirit Award, a scholarship fund created for high school seniors who wish to pursue dance team or cheerleading at the collegiate level and beyond.