WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, WV (WVUE) - Day one of Saints training camp featured cool temperatures, several big plays and a concerning quad injury to receiver Kenny Stills, who left practice early.
Overall, it was a productive start.
"Mentally, that was as sharp of a first practice as we've ever had," Saints right tackle Zach Strief said. "I think it's going to serve us well as the season goes on."
"I thought overall that guys moved around real well," Saints head coach Sean Payton said. "Without pads on, there's a little bit of skill on how to practice with each other without taking guys to the ground. I thought we did a good job of handling that too."
While the Saints have plenty of potential, the competitive nature of camp will bring out the team's best.
"We know what we look like on paper, we look pretty good on paper, but now we gotta go out, we gotta put it together," quarterback Drew Brees said. "We have to put together the team we know we can. We've got to find different ways to win this year. At times it's going to be defense and at times it's going to be run game. This is when you put it all together, and it's going to be competitive out here."
"Today felt good, but obviously some little things that I need to work on," tight end Jimmy Graham said. "We need to get on the same page or I need to get on his page, but all that will be solved over the next few weeks."
Meanwhile, hundreds of fans watched the Black-and-Gold work, including New Orleans native and West Virginia transplant Willie White.
"Everything looks good, I know for a fact that this is going to be our year," White said. "Super Bowl. It's happening."
The biggest cheers from the fans today came on a Brees to Brandin Cooks deep ball connection, with the talented rookie showing a glimpse of why the Saints traded up in the first round to draft the speedster.
"I saw [number] 10 over there jump up and snatch it over somebody's head, and I said, 'Who's that?' They said, 'Oh, he's the first round draft pick.' I said, 'Okay. There is a reason."
"It was an interesting play because there are some different things you see on film, and it is harder for a player with his stature, farther down the field you go," Payton said. "Often times it is harder to make plays above your head, but it was a good play in traffic. It was good to see."
"Here's a guy who's extremely talented, but more than that, is very intelligent," Brees said. "You get this feeling that he wants to be great. He loves football. He wants to learn. He's a sponge. Every time he comes up to me, eyes wide, [he says] just feed me, feed me."