And so it begins...

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fan line

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So the day finally arrived when the Saints opened their training camp at their facility in Metairie and would you look at the turnout? I've never been to a Metairie training camp but some of the press veterans said that todays turnout of a couple of hundred could swell to double or triple the size this weekend. Where all those people will fit is anyone's guess seeing as how every seat seemed to be taken already.

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And much credit to the fans. It was hot and muggy all morning long and seeing this many people line up to sit on hot aluminum bleachers and with no shade for 2+ hours to watch grown men working out deserve some sort of credit (not sure what, exactly, but they deserve something. Free cold water?).

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Alas, the press doesn't have to worry about such things. No, we get ponder over how many balls Jeremy Shockey will drop in one practice (at least five this morning) or how the offense is going to amp up the running game to match Drew Brees' passing (by running a lot of inside-run drills, apparently). But really, how much can you tell about a team after one practice?

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A few things actually, and most of them revolve around this man:

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This sweaty, scowling piece of pudge is Gregg Williams (but you knew that already) and he was stalking the sidelines today as he's been all off-season long. He's emphasizing aggression, activity and forcing turnovers. The defense today was happy to oblige and continued their practice of "scooping and scoring" every ball that hits the ground - dead ball or not. All these changes have come much to the delight of defensive players.

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"It's just trying to create the mentality and make it habitual: every time the ball's on the ground, that's our ball," linebacker Scott Fujita said.

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Jonathan Vilma, who's coming off surgery to fix a sports hernia in his abdomen, said that he was pleased with where the defense is in implementing Williams' schemes. "We're still not satisfied," he added, though. And will all the promise the defense showed you still have to take everything with a grain of salt. The offense was visibly rusty and that sure made the defense's job easier. All in all though, fans have to be happy to see this team in pads again.

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And yet, how much has really changed with this team? Several players and Sean Payton talked about enjoying the fan presence on their first day of practice. Payton said that some of the "advantages of being here is the facilities", which are markedly better than those at Millsaps College in Jackson, Miss. But after just one practice, word is the schedule has already been changed: the afternoon practice has been moved inside and fans will NOT be allowed in. Anyone who was planning to take off work early to catch practice should cahnge their plans.

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The Saints sure know to make people feel welcome.

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