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Observations From Saints Mini Camp

Saints First Round Draft Pick Patrick Robinson

Saints coach Sean Payton sat down with reporters this past weekend and gave some first impressions from the Saints’ rookie mini camp. Payton discusses his draft choices, the rookies trying to make the cut, signing Darren Sharper, and touches on the Vicodin scandal plauging the team right now.

Below are excerpts from the press conference. Click here for the full transcript.

Can you talk about the civil suit filed last week?

“I really can’t. With respect to the process, that’s the position I’m in. I understand the questions surrounding it, yet I’m not at liberty. I think as time goes forward, we’ll know more and more.”

What is Darren Sharper’s status now? Did he have microfracture surgery?

“He had a procedure done and if you took microfractures and put them in the right column and just a simple scope in the left, from all the feedback we have gotten and in staying in touch with the doctors, it’s probably closer to somewhere in the middle. It wasn’t as significant as that, but there still was a little bit of that procedure and it will require a little bit of a longer rehab, which is what he’s doing now. He was in town this past week after he signed rehabbing and he’ll continue to do that and get himself ready. I think a realistic framework of when we’d expect him to be out practicing would be for training camp as opposed to the minicamps.”

Can you talk about how this camp ranks with some of the prior rookie minicamps?

“I think number one of the draft picks, just the one Charles Brown is coming off a hamstring injury. He’s been a little bit limited with regards to what we’ve been able to do. We kind of knew that coming in. He’s been on top of things from a mental reps standpoint. He got some work in the a.m. practice yesterday. It’s still something he’s recovering from and is going to have to continue to recover from. In regards to the other guys, that transition is happening pretty fast. Patrick (Robinson) is out there, lining up at left corner, getting the calls down with the rest of these draft picks. Jimmy Graham from Miami, the tight end is getting a lot of work. Certainly when you look at the center (Matthew) Tennant, (Al) Woods from LSU and (Sean) Canfield, those are the guys who we’re probably a little bit more familiar with because they were drafted. At this stage, at this camp every year for us, we’ve been able to find a veteran like Billy Miller, who was able to work out for us at this camp in 06 for us on a three day tryout and ended up playing here for quite a while. Our scouts on both the college end and pro end, do a lot of work grading all of these guys to get them to the next step. Our process has been that once they get here we go by what we see. We point out that a few years back it was Pierre Thomas who was able to beat out a draft pick (Antonio Pittman). I think that’s vital in the process of just winning football games and creating that right environment in our locker room. That’s something we take very seriously.”

Does Charles Brown just have a hamstring injury and not a knee injury?

“No, the issue with Charles is just the hamstring. It’s something that happened in his offseason getting ready for the draft, so I think we knew before his arrival that was something he was going to be recovering from. I don’t think it’s something that’s going to hold him back too long.”

What have you seen from Jimmy Graham in these first few practices?

“He can run and he has real good hands. He’s a big target. He’s willing to learn and he has been pretty impressive just in these three practices. If you were watching, he’d be a guy that has stood out. He’s done some things where you realize that he’s an extremely gifted athlete. He has a lot of work to do and he knows that, yet he’s willing to learn and he’s smart and he has that span and that size that you’re looking for. He has handled these three practices pretty well.”

What have you liked so far from Patrick Robinson?

“Patrick is sudden. He’s put his foot in the ground a few times and you can see his speed. He has long arms and good ball skills. He’s someone that yesterday made a few plays on the ball and you guys soon enough will have a chance to see him. It’s very early for those guys so I’m as guarded as anyone in regards to an early evaluation. But he’s handling the install well. There’s a lot that Gregg (Williams) and the coaches are putting in, as we are on offense, and he’s pretty bright. He’s done some good things.”

Could Malcolm Jenkins play strong safety?

“I think what’s happened in the past few years is that nature of what we knew as strong and free safety has bled together a little more than it was 10 years ago or so. What Gregg and our defensive staff is going to ask either safety to do is at times play down in the run front and at times play back. But I think initially you would look at him as a free and begin there, but he’s going to have to do a lot of the same things we ask our strong to do.”

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