Payton to Saints: If you fight during practice, pack your bags

WHITE SULFUR SPRINGS, WV. -- Saints coach Sean Payton pulled his players together during his usual team meeting Wednesday, preparing them for the upcoming day. But this time, that upcoming day held something different in the cards: A visit from the New England Patriots.

So Payton had a special message: If you decide to fight during practices, as has become a sudden trend during joint sessions across the league, you should pack your bags.

Payton made clear fighting will not be tolerated -- a message he echoed during his news conference Thursday when he noted he believes these fights are breaking out because of the attention they garner on nightly sports broadcasts and HBO's "Hard Knocks".

"That's unfortunate when you see it happen with other teams," Payton said. "And clearly when you put a team on television like 'Hard Knocks' and then practice with someone else, we've seen that formula happen two years in a row. So that's nothing new."

Saints sources say Payton, in general, has been very meticulous about making sure these joint practices with the Patriots go perfectly. He has been going over and over logistics with members of his staff, something that's believed at least in part due to his respect for Patriots coach Bill Belichick.

But the "no fighting" policy is especially important to both coaches, who say they believe these practices are too important to be thwarted by the types of brawls that have occurred recently between the Texans and the Redskins, as well as the Cowboys and the Rams.

"We've had a great working relationship with the Saints," Belichick said. "Their players work hard -- but they do it the right way."

This is the third time the Saints and the Patriots have practiced together -- and the camaraderie and professionalism showed by players on both sides is a key factor.

"It's a big reason why we're practicing with them (Patriots) a third time," Payton said. "We know it's gonna be about improving both teams. We're both trying to do the same thing at this period of training camp."

*Follow Jeff Darlington on Twitter @jeffdarlington. *

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