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Sean Payton offers support for Tom Benson: ‘He’s been a fantastic owner’

For the most part, Sean Payton has tried to stay out of the ongoing legal battle between Tom Benson and his children.

Nearly every time he’s been asked, Payton has said his knowledge of the case stems mostly from reading headlines in the news.

And when Payton was asked about the potential decision coming down in Benson’s competency trial, he initially wanted to move on to the next question.

Payton  ultimately decided to offer his support for the man who’s been his boss ever since 2006.

“He’s been a tremendous owner,” Payton said. “With regards to that, you’d have to really be on top of every specific argument. For me as a head coach, getting the job in ’06, which was my first year, I’ve said this before. He’s been a fantastic owner. Very supportive. I can’t think of one time that’s been really frustrated you. He’s been probably the main reason we were able to win a Super Bowl championship.”

Saints finish minicamp with a shortened session

Notes and observations from Thursday’s minicamp practice:

Attendance, please: Safeties Jairus Byrd and Kenny Vaccaro, cornerback Delvin Breaux, wide receiver Marques Colston, pass rusher Junior Galette, defensive tackles Glenn Foster, Akiem Hicks and Brodrick Bunkley, linebacker Davis Tull and wide receiver Lance Lewis were held out of practice.

The final practice was cut an hour short. There was a brief 11-on-11 period and then the team worked on  individual technique and went through special teams drills.

That’s all.

Summer vacation is now here for the Saints.

Jairus Byrd appears to be held out of Saints’ final minicamp practice

New Orleans heads into its final practice of the summer with one more veteran held out.

Veteran safety Jairus Byrd appears to be held out of Thursday’s practice.

Marques Colston, Junior Galette, Cyril Lemon, Akiem Hicks and Brodrick Bunkley remain present at practice, although out of action.

Hicks and rookie linebacker Davis Tull have spent portions of each practice doing work with trainers off to the side.

Wide receiver Lance Lewis and defensive tackle Glenn Foster are both out of practice as well.

Defensive backs Kenny Vaccaro and Delvin Breaux, who were hobbled with minor injuries on Tuesday, remain off to the side.

Packers pick up Saints castoff Harold Spears

New Hampshire tight end Harold Spears, who the Saints cut to make room for the signing of Kevin Williams last week, has landed with another NFL team.

Spears has now landed in Green Bay, the Packers announced on Thursday before the start of their minicamp.

Spears, a player the Saints signed as an undrafted free agent, was a raw prospect who was initially brought in as a receiving option at tight end.

But North Carolina product Jack Tabb has proven to be an impressive receiver in his own right during the Saints’ mandatory minicamp, making several nice catches in the three-day session.

Kevin Williams could earn decent money in New Orleans if he makes team and plays

Kevin Williams could make a decent amount of money if he wins a roster spot and then manages win snaps.

The veteran defensive tackle’s one-year deal with the Saints is worth $1.5 million and comes with a $500,000 signing bonus, according to a source. The signing bonus is the only guaranteed portion of the contract.

If Williams gets on the field and earns snaps, he could earn another $1.6 million based on playing time.

Williams’ initial total cap charge is $1.5 million. The bonus is listed as not likely to be earned, so it does not initially count against the cap. His cap charge will inflate if he hits those incentives.

Bonuses are classified as not likely to be earned when a player does not reach that goal the year before. Williams played 445 of 1,002 snaps last year in Seattle, or 44 percent. That means his playtime incentive is higher than that figure.

The Saints are now listed as having $2.6 million in cap space.

Josh Morgan has made a good impression at minicamp

Josh Morgan is going to have to have fight hard if he wants to make the New Orleans Saints’ 53-man roster coming out of training camp, but the veteran receiver is already turning heads.

Signed to a one-year contract after impressing during an invitation to New Orleans’ rookie minicamp, Morgan is already beginning to turn heads with his performance during organized team activities and mandatory minicamp.

The receiver has been a consistent performer thus far, catching seven of the eight passes thrown his direction during the first two days of minicamp and has made a strong impression on wide receivers coach John Morton.

“He’s tough, he’s a physical player, he’s smart,” Morton said. “Understands the game. He’s consistent — he’s consistent with what he does. The guys that will play will be the most consistent guys at any position.”

While there are others in the mix, with Brandin Cooks and Marques Colston as locks, Morgan is competing with Nick Toon, Brandon Coleman and Seantavius Jones to make the roster. The Saints broke camp last year with five receivers.

While Toon, Coleman and Jones are young and might have more upside, Morgan has the proven ability to succeed in the NFL. He started 26 games for the San Francisco 49ers during the 2009 and 2010 seasons, catching a combined 96 passes for 1,225 yards.

Playing under Morton in San Francisco in 2011, Morgan finished with 15 catches for 220 yards. He battled injuries the last two seasons playing for the Washington Redskins and Chicago Bears.

“He’s been hurt really the last couple years,” Morton, who vouched for Morgan with the Saints, said. “When you go to two different offenses and you’re learning again, there’s a lot involved with why people don’t have success when they go to a different team.”

The Saints are hoping Morgan can buck that trend in New Orleans.

Ryan Griffin says he’s ‘trying to get it handled quickly and easily’ after bottle attack

The day after the news broke that Ryan Griffin had been attacked with a bottle ten days before, the Saints quarterback met with the media.

And he made sure to take off his hat initially, allowing reporters to see the faint outline of a scar on his upper forehead and his nose.

Griffin, who confirmed that the injury had required 50 stitches to close a wound delivered by a champagne bottle at 1:50 a.m. on June 7 at Apres Lounge, a Central Business District club.

“I just wanted you guys to see my face,” Griffin said. “Everything looks fine. My plastic surgeon must have gone to Tulane. They did a great job.”

Griffin was struck with the bottle after bumping into some men at the bar. According to Griffin’s lawyer, Justin Reese, the quarterback was an innocent bystander and a victim of assault and battery.

According to both Reese and Griffin, the New Orleans Police Department is still investigating the incident.

“It was an unfortunate situation that happened,  I’m trying to get it handled quickly and easily,” Griffin said. “As soon as it happened, I notified the Saints and have been telling them anything and everything that’s happened so far. My attorney, Justin Reese, is handling all the legal matters and we are both cooperating fully with law enforcement. My main focus right now is football, and doing whatever I can to help this team and get better and get ready for training camp.”

Griffin declined to discuss any further details, citing the ongoing investigation.

“I wish I wouldn’t have to go through it,” Griffin said.
“But it’s a learning experience.”

Notes and observations from Wednesday’s minicamp practice

Notes and observations for Wednesday’s minicamp practice:

Attendance, please: Safety Kenny Vaccaro, cornerback Delvin Breaux, linebacker Junior Galette, defensive linemen Brodrick Bunkley and Akiem Hicks, and offensive lineman Cyril Lemon did not practice.

Slot business: Rookie Damian Swann received the first-team reps as the nickel cornerback on Wednesday. P.J. Williams was with the second unit and Kyle Wilson was with the third-string defense. Coach Sean Payton said he wanted to get different players in different lineups.

Morgan looking good: At the risk of regretting hyping him up at a later date, wide receiver Josh Morgan continues to look good. He’s strong and has performed consistently on a daily basis. It will be tough to crack the 53-man roster, but he at least appears to be in the battle.

Quarterback shuffle: In a little bit of a twist, Ryan Griffin served as the No. 2 quarterback and Luke McCown was No. 3. Griffin had one of the nicer throws of the day when he hit Ben Watson on a deep out just over the hands of linebacker Ramon Humber.

Williams looks good: P.J. Williams had one of the nicer pass breakups of the day when he knocked the ball away from Brandin Cooks on the left sideline.

Cooks shining: The hype around Brandin Cooks last offseason was deafening. It might end up getting even louder this offseason. He’s looked good in every practice and continues to perform. He beat Terrence Frederick for a deep touchdown once and had several other nice catches.

Kikaha shows moves: It might be misleading to evaluate the play of the front seven and offensive line since there is no contact, but it was impossible to ignore the amount of times Hau’oli Kikaha ended up in the backfield, in the quarterback’s face. Andrus Peat was often “blocking” Kikaha. But, as Payton said, without contact it’s typically about who surrenders first. It might be wise not to make much of this one.

Practice pace: Overall, the pace of practice was kind of slow. The team worked on some situation things and only had a handful of 11-on-11 periods. The practice ended with a two-minute drill.

Brees passing

1.Complete to Mark Ingram
2. Complete to Brandon Coleman
3. Complete Tim Hightower
4. Complete to Brandin Cooks (over Damian Swann)
5. Complete to Josh Morgan
6. Complete to Seantavius Jones
7. Complete to Josh Hill
8. Complete to Brandon Coleman
9. Incomplete to Seantavius Jones (broken up by Keenan Lewis)
10. Pass interference, Swann on Coleman
11. Intercepted by Rafael Bush (intended for Brandon Coleman)
12. Complete to Ben Watson
13. Complete to Brandin Cooks
14. Incomplete to Brandin Cooks (broken up by P.J. Williams)
15. Complete to Brandon Coleman
16. Complete to Seantavius Jones

Ryan Griffin passing
1. Complete
2. Complete to Josh Morgan.
3. Complete to Ben Watson
4. Sacked by Bobby Richardson
5. Complete to Seantavius Jones
6. Complete to Khiry Robinson
7. Complete to Josh Morgan
8. Complete to Tim Hightower
9. Complete to Josh Morgan
10. Complete to Josh Hill for touchdown
11. Incomplete to Josh Morgan
12. Incomplete to Khiry Robinson (drop)
13. Incomplete to Khiry Robinson
14. Incomplete to Joe Morgan (drop)

Luke McCown passing
1. Complete to Jack Tabb
2. Complete to Brandin Cooks
3. Incomplete to Jalen Saunders
4. Complete to Jack Tabb
5. Thrown away
(Missed a series of throws)

Garrett Grayson passing
1. Complete to Josh Morgan
2. Complete to Jack Tabb
3. Complete to Kyle Prater
4. Complete to Jack Tabb
5. Complete to Orson Charles
6. Incomplete to Willie Snead
7. Incomplete to Jalen Saunders
8. Incomplete to Orson Charles

Junior Galette will meet with NFL at end of month, apologizes to fan base

Saints outside linebacker Junior Galette met with the media for a wide-ranging interview.

And the pass rusher says he will meet with the NFL in New York at the end of the month to talk about the incident that led to an arrest for domestic violence, charges that were subsequently dropped.

Galette also confirmed he has a torn left pectoral muscle, and he’s happy that the injury can be rehabilitated, although he said no timetable.

In his meeting with the media, Galette also apologized to the Saints’ fan base for his off-the-field issues this year.

More to come… 

Kenny Vaccaro, Delvin Breaux off to side at Saints minicamp

Saints secondary teammates Kenny Vaccaro and Delvin Breaux both appear to be out of practice for the second day of the Saints minicamp after coming up hobbled on Tuesday.

Junior Galette, who is rehabbing a pectoral injury, wasn’t present for the second straight day, but the Saints are hopeful he’ll be back for training camp.

Across the rest of the defensive line, Brodrick Bunkley and Akiem Hicks were both out again.

Glenn Foster, who wasn’t at practice on Tuesday, was back on Wednesday, although he wasn’t doing any work. Foster missed all of the organized team activities with an undisclosed injury.