NEW ORLEANS — Sean Payton had one clear message for his charges as the Saints began voluntary offseason workouts at the team’s Metairie training facility Monday.
“Sean has a unique ability to gauge the temperature of the room and capture the heart of the players,” cornerback Jabari Greer said. “He did a great job of getting us re-focused at the start as we start this 2013-14 journey.”
Payton missed more than nine months after the being suspended by the NFL after the league finished its investigation into what it believed to be a bounty program administered by then defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.
Monday marked his first time meeting with the team as a whole. And while there might have been question about whether he would change his style, Greer said Payton approached the team as he did prior to last year’s roller coaster.
“I had no reason to believe that he was going to be anything but himself,” Greer said. “When he went up there he was serious, but at the same time he was the same ol’ Sean. He brought things into perspective.
“But we still understood that we’re in this together. Nobody is pointing fingers. We’re just putting thing in the rearview mirror and moving on ahead.”
For players like Curtis Lofton, however, Monday marked the first time to see Payton operate in a managing role.
Yet, Lofton wasn’t thinking about that. Instead, he viewed Monday as a rebirth, a renewal of optimism after last year’s 7-9 finish.
”This is the beginning of 2013 for us. It’s exciting,” the middle linebacker said. “Forget everything that happened in the past. We won’t forget it, but everyone is hungry from everything we did and not accomplishing our goals.”
Thomas Morstead agreed.
“I think that the best part of coming into this year is all the stuff that happened last year and all the negativity surrounding it, it’s all last year,” Morstead said. “It’s all over and it’s all done with. It’s just nice to kind of know what you’re getting and not worry about suspensions or are we going to have a guy and things like that.”
The Saints will go through their offseason program for the next six weeks before moving into organized team activities (OTAs) for three weeks.