When the Saints convened for work on Tuesday, the NFL’s mandate against live tackling was still in place. But they introduced more contact than might be typical this time of year by renewing a tradition: leaving their practice facility in Metairie and playing some paintball.
The Saints divided themselves into a gray squad and a black team after arriving at Paintball Command across Lake Pontchartrain and near Mandeville on Tuesday, the third-to-last day of organized team activities (“OTAs”). A video posted by rookie tight end Je’Ronn Hamm on the social media service Instagram showed team members sitting around boxes of equipment and receiving instructions on how to properly use it before presumably taking aim at each other on the renowned outdoor paintball field.
“Annual Saints Competition!!!” tweeted Hamm, who snapped a photo of Paintball Command’s sign. “We bout to go after the Grey team!!! #blacksquad.”
Meanwhile, Saints punter Thomas Morstead published a self-portrait on his Twitter account of team members preparing to gear up. From the looks of the punter’s photo and Hamm’s video, team members wearing black also included Morstead, running back Mark Ingram, backup quarterback Ryan Griffin and defensive end Cameron Jordan.
Outside linebacker Junior Galette later put up a photo on Twitter that had him posing with running back Khiry Robinson and inside linebacker Curtis Lofton. All were wearing black. Galette said he got shot about 100 times but got some of his own strikes back on opponents.
Team members in gray included right tackle Zach Strief and backup quarterback Luke McCown.
Under coach Sean Payton, the Saints often shake up their offseason and preseason routines by taking days away from the practice field to bond over recreational activities. Aside from playing paintball, they’ve ridden go-karts and splashed around in water parks.
The Saints had completed seven days of voluntary OTAs and a mandatory minicamp from June 10-12 ahead of Tuesday. They have OTA sessions scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday.
They then take a break and report to training camp at The Greenbrier resort in West Virginia on July 24.