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Saints Camp: Strange offseason now transitions Into preseason game mode

Saints RB Darren SprolesSaints RB Darren Sproles

Saints RB Darren Sproles (Photo: Parker Waters)

METAIRIE - A few of the newest New Orleans Saints put on a black and gold practice jersey for the first time last Thursday. Now, in less than 48 hours, they will put on their game jerseys for the Saints’ preseason opener against the San Francisco 49ers in the Superdome.

But for veterans like running back Darren Sproles, the uniform may be different, but it’s still football.

“It gives you the chance to play against somebody else, instead of your own defense all the time,” Sproles said after Wednesday’s two-hour, 10-minute practice. “It’s football, just in another place.”

That “another place” is Sproles’ new friendly confines on Poydras Street.

“They say that place gets crazy,” said Sproles. “I’m ready to see it in the regular season.”

Another late arrival to the practice field was defensive tackle Aubrayo Franklin, who not only is settling in with his new team, but facing his former team – the 49ers – in the preseason opener.

Will Franklin have extra motivation against San Francisco?

“I don’t think so,” Franklin said. “It’s the next opponent and a chance to see what we’ve been doing out here in live action.”

The Saints rookies, including first-round draft picks Cameron Jordan and Mark Ingram, will wear an NFL uniform for the first time.

“All of us will be anxious to see how they respond in a game setting.” Saints coach Sean Payton said earlier this week. “I think it’s an important step in the evaluation process but we’ll be excited and I think they will be too.”

Payton said Wednesday he had not made a final decision on those who would be held out of the 49ers game because of injury.

Starters are expected to get between 12 and 17 snaps against the 49ers.

INJURIES: RB Chris Ivory, CB Tracy Porter and DE Greg Romeus remain out because of failed physicals. Not practicing Wednesday were LB Ezra Butler (hamstring), WR Marques Colston (knee), WR Jerrod Fayson (ankle), WR Adrian Arrington (ankle), LB Ramon Humber (quad), T Jon Stinchcomb (knee), OL Roger Allen (knee) and T Alex Barron (knee).

PLAYS OF THE DAY: The Saints introduced the two-minute drill at Wednesday’s practice, and with the No. 1 units working against each other, Drew Brees’ pass was batted in the air by DE Alex Brown. Brees caught the rebound and went around the left side for a substantial gain. On the next play, Brees found Jimmy Graham, who out-leaped defenders Patrick Robinson and Leigh Torrence for the touchdown.

SPECIAL TEAMS: The team had a significant emphasis on all of its specialty units Wednesday. Garrett Hartley was perfect on six field-goal tries from various distances and hashmarks. Both Darren Sproles and Lance Moore were returning punts.

TRANSACTION: Saints release LB Danny Clark, sign veteran OL Jordan Black


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