WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. (WGNO) – The Saints have their priorities at training camp. And, high on the list is being a better running team, and stopping the run.
The Saints won 11 regular season games, and a playoff game, despite ranking 25th in rushing yards, and 19th in the NFL in rushing yards allowed.
In Monday morning’s inside drill, the Saints offensive line won the day over the Saints defensive line.
Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan was not happy.
“We are not over running *&^*#$,” barked Ryan at his defense.
I asked head coach Sean Payton if being more physical is the key to competing against the best teams in the NFC. Payton was quick to point out that the Saints belong in that group.
“We think we are one of those teams. We played that way in our first playoff game against Philadelphia. And, we really approached the second playoff game the same way. Do we want to improve in those areas? Yes, and we feel like we are one of those teams.”
Payton said at times during the 2013 season, the Saints were unable to run the ball when they wanted.
He said being able to “take that element away is pretty significant.”
In 2009, the year the Saints won the Super Bowl, the Saints were 6th in a 32 team league in rushing.
New Orleans averaged 131.6 yards per game, and 4.5 yards per carry.
In 2013, the Saints averaged 3.8 yards per carry.
At Monday’s practice, it was light jacket weather in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.
The low temperature Tuesday night is forecast to be 48 degrees. High temps will be in the 70’s or low 80’s the rest of the week.
Line of the day
Payton had the line of the day. A reporter asked, where the Saints were in the camp timeline?
“We are in the tunnel, and there is no light at the of the tunnel,” said Payton.
New Orleans will break the West Virginia portion of camp Thursday August 14th.
Among those not practicing were safety Jairus Byrd, defensive tackle John Jenkins, and offensive tackle Tavon Rooks.
Also missing practice were Robert Meachem (sore back) and guard Ben Grubbs. When asked the nature of Grubbs’ injury, Payton declined to answer.
Even though the Saints have a three year agreement with the Greenbrier, the relationship could last much longer. One of three practice fields is turfed. That field could be enclosed in time for training camp in 2015.