Saints wrap up offseason organized team activities

Staff Writer
Plaquemine Post South
New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham lines up against the San Francisco 49ers last season. The Saints recently wrapped up OTAs. 
POST SOUTH PHOTO/Peter Silas Pasqua

METAIRIE - The New Orleans Saints brought down the curtains on their 2014 offseason Thursday, as the team’s final round of organized team activities came to an end.

Having previously held two three-day OTA sessions along with a mandatory minicamp last week, the Saints have made good use of their offseason program.

The Saints will break for the next few weeks, reuniting on July 24 for the start of training camp in West Virginia.

Some of the notable absences on the final day of OTAs included Pierre Thomas, Jahri Evans, Ben Grubbs, Josh Hill and Brandon Deaderick.

Coach Sean Payton seemed unconcerned when queried on the whereabouts of the non-participants, saying there was “nothing earth-shattering” to report in regards to their absences.

Payton noted the workouts were voluntary but also hinted that some of the missing players had previous committments.

Jairus Byrd and Joe Morgan remained out of practice but should be ready to roll come training camp. John Jenkins also continues to close in on his recovery from minor offseason surgery on a pectoral injury.

As expected, Jimmy Graham remains away from the team as his grievance hearing wrapped up.

Tuesday was a nice change-of-pace for the Saints’ players, as they took part in their annual Paintball competition. Players split into two seperate squads and took to the paintball field in an ironic attempt to build team bonding by firing little balls of paint at one another.

Payton has been known to integrate such activities in his offseason plans. The team has taken time away from training camp to attend water parks in the past and Payton knows the players appreciate occasionally stepping back from the offseason grind to keep themselves fresh with a long season ahead of them.

Brandin Cooks, the team’s first round draft pick, was present for the final round of OTAs. It was Cooks’ first time back at the team facility since rookie minicamp in mid-May.

A decision on Graham’s case could be reached within the next 5-7 days. Graham remains hopeful that arbitratior Stephen Burbank, who has ruled against the Saints in the past, will side with him in his attempt to have his franchise tag switched from tight end to receiver.

Meanwhile, the team is confident that their designation of Graham’s position will remain intact. Per the Saints, Graham lines up at tight end, attends position meetings in the tight end room, and even lists himself as a tight end on his twitter page.

The Saints have already factored Graham into their cap structure for the upcoming season at the tight end franchise tag price of just over $7 million. Should Graham win, that price tag will shoot up to over $12 million.

Saints players will report to West Virginia on July 24 for the opening of training camp at the Greenbriar Resort in White Sulphur Springs, W.V.