Injury mars Saints' first minicamp workout

The SportsXchange

METARIE, La. -- The New Orleans Saints went through the first of five minicamp practices Tuesday without three injured players, then lost rookie tackle Terron Armstead midway through the morning workout.

Not working were tight end Benjamin Watson, who has not participated in the OTAs open to the media the past two weeks, and cornerbacks Keenan Lewis and Ryan Steed.

Head coach Sean Payton did not elaborate on the injuries, nor did he say why Armstead was taken in before the end of practice.

Tackle Charles Brown, one of three players vying for Jermon Bushrod's old starting spot on the left side of the offensive line, was able to work for the second straight week after being held out of the first OTAs with a weight room-related injury.

Brown has been plagued by injuries since being a second-round draft pick in 2010 and he finished each of his first three seasons on injured reserve.

"I think it's important with the snaps, that he's able to receive as many as he can, especially mentally, just being out there with the protections and the different looks we are getting from our defense," Payton said.

Tight end Jimmy Graham, who is coming back from off-season wrist surgery, was singled out by Payton as having a good practice in Tuesday's morning session.

"I thought he had a good practice today. ... I think certainly getting him back after his off-season surgery (is a plus) and I know that he is anxious to get started on this year, but I thought his practice today stood out," Payton said. "Certainly, I think his expectation level is high, just as ours is as well, and I look forward to watching this upcoming season and him progress."

"I'm a hungry player and this is probably the hungriest I've ever been to kind of right the wrongs of last year, prove what this team can do and maybe hush up some of the naysayers," Graham said. "For me, it's all work and doing as much as I can to be the best player I can be."

Graham was one of the players who wasn't surprised by the large turnout of fans to see the first minicamp practice on a humid South Louisiana morning.

Graham said he arrived at the team's training facility at 6:30 a.m. and saw fans waiting in line to get into the gates, which didn't open until 9:30 for a 10:15 practice.

"It's crazy how hot it is out there and our fans show up," he said. "I got here at 6:30 this morning and there were fans waiting in line to get in. That's just how it is here. We definitely have a special group of fans.

"It was already 80 degrees and people were drinking Gatorades and waiting to get into practice."

Quarterback Drew Brees grew up in Austin, Texas, which is not far from San Antonio, which is why he was asked Tuesday who he likes in the NBA Finals.

Yet, he wasn't about to give the nod to the San Antonio Spurs in their series with the Miami Heat.

"I don't know, obviously the Spurs have had some time to rest now so that will help them out a little bit," he said. "I'm sure it gets to be a grind at the end of this thing and everyone's just running off adrenaline.

"Tony Parker, (Tim) Duncan and (Manu) Ginobili have been together for a long time now," Brees added. "I don't know. It's going to be a heck of a series. It's going to be a fun series to watch, I don't have a prediction."
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