As everyone knows, there is still an impasse with the labor situation in the NFL. The players are still locked out and there is not an immediate end in sight. While not being able to communicate with coaches or use team facilities will certainly be a detriment to some teams, the lockout may actually end up benefiting the Saints if and when the 2011 football season begins.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees has been organizing workouts for his teammates at Tulane University. Some other NFL teams have had some organized workouts such as the quarterback and receivers getting together for throwing sessions but, according to all reports, none of the workouts have been as extensive as the ones the Saints are participating in. Brees has paid for the use of the Tulane University facilities as well as some of the coaching staff to work with the team. Brees has also paid for his own personal trainer from California to work with the team. Brees has also arranged for players to take part in studying game films of the teams that they will face in 2011. A recent story on ESPN offered a glimpse into some of the workouts the Saints are participating in. The video segment showed Brees explaining different workouts, Jonathon Vilma working with the defensive players and Brees working with rookie running back Mark Ingram. Brees knows this offense as well as coach Sean Payton does so he is very well equipped to teach it to their rookie running back.
Thanks in no small part to the leadership being shown by Brees and other veteran players, the Saints may be the team in the best position whenever the lockout ends. This time of year, teams are normally busy with mini-camps, organized team activities and rookies learning play books. The lockout is preventing all of this but the Saints are essentially doing the same things on their own. Drew Brees has stated he will continue to pay for him and his teammates to practice and make use of the Tulane facilities as long as the lockout is in effect. If the lockout continues for some time and ends up cutting into training camp time, these practices spearheaded by Brees will become more and more important.
The biggest way the lockout may hurt the Saints is that the rookie players who aren’t attending will have less time to practice with their new teammates. Rookies Cameron Jordan and Martez Wilson both have the potential to start on defense but they will need time to learn Greg Williams’ complex defensive system. The Saints also don’t have the ability to sign undrafted free agents until the lockout ends. The Saints are very good at finding good players who slipped through the cracks of the draft and signing them as undrafted free agents.
Although they would benefit from the lockout ending immediately, the Saints will be in the best position whenever the lockout does end. They have a deep and talented veteran roster and with the leadership being shown by their players in organizing the team for workouts, they will be better prepared than any other team once the lockout is over.