New Orleans Saints  


Drew Brees not present at start of Saints' workout program


METAIRIE, La. -- New Orleans Saints players reported for voluntary offseason workouts on Monday without head coach Sean Payton, whose season-long suspension began after midnight.

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Quarterback Drew Brees, who had the franchise tag applied to him over the offseason, did not report to workouts, as was expected.

According to NFL Network's Albert Breer, Brees was in New York on Monday to meet with NFL officials, presumably about the Saints "bounty" case. The league still has yet to announce punishments for the players involved in the program, which resulted in the suspension of Sean Payton and the indefinite ban of former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.

This is the first organized team gathering since the Saints' season-ending loss to the 49ers in the playoffs -- a loss that has been overshadowed by the scandal, which also resulted in punishments for general manager Mickey Loomis (suspended eight games) and assistant head coach Joe Vitt (six games).

Payton is not allowed to be at the facility or have football related contact with players or staffers, some of whom arrived in preparation for workouts at 7 a.m. CT. Vitt and other coaches are at the team facility, where many employees have been displaced because of massive reconstruction to the team's training facilities.

Vitt will take over as coach until his suspension begins at the start of the regular season. The team has not decided who on staff will take over for Vitt until his return.

There was no scheduled media availability but players could be seen driving into the facility for weight-lifting and conditioning sessions, which are scheduled through Thursday.

The players were scheduled to train in separate groups and in staggered sessions, and there were no indications that a team-wide meeting was scheduled -- at least at this point. The conditioning sessions are run by strength coaches, but other coaches and coordinators were expected to interact with players during these uncertain and uncharted times.



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