Even though he’s going into his contract year, New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham is only thinking about one thing: football.
Graham, who’ll likely become the highest-paid tight end in the league either this fall or next spring, was asked about it Saturday for the second day in a row — and again downplayed the huge payday he’ll certainly get.
His next deal will likely surpass the contracts given by the New England Patriots to Rob Gronkowski (eight years, $55.2 million) and former teammate Aaron Hernandez (five years, $40 million).
Graham said he never thought about holding out of training camp to get an extension on the rookie contract he signed in 2010 after catching 215 passes and 25 touchdowns in his first three seasons.
“To each his own … I’m the type of player that it’s just about football for me,” he said. “I just want to play, simple as that. After the season we had last year, and you know now that we’re back, I just want to be a part of it. I’m going to be here and I’m going to play with everything I have.
“I’m a humble kid from very humble beginnings, and I feel blessed to be in the situation I am in,” he added. “All I’m going to do is go out here and play football. That’s what I’m best at, and I know the rest will just take care of itself.”
After two days of practices without pads, the Saints will put on the full gear for Sunday’s workout.
Most of the Saints are looking forward to it — especially the coaches.
“The first thing is, when you have pads on, we’re able to get a little 1-on-1 offensive line, defensive line and pass protection drills, which are things you can’t do without the pads,” coach Sean Payton said. “It becomes a little bit more physical.”
Several plays drew oohs and ahs from the crowd that attended Saturday’s practice after it was nearly moved indoors by a morning shower.
During a 1-on-1 pass drill, first-round draft pick Kenny Vaccaro had tight coverage on Kenny Stills. At the last second, Vaccaro dove and knocked the ball away, then bounced up to his knees and signaled incomplete as fans cheered.
In a 6-on-8 drill, backup inside linebacker Ramon Humber stripped the ball from tight end Benjamin Watson’s grasp, and outside linebacker Baraka Atkins plucked the fumble out of the air.
In team drills, Drew Brees and Graham teamed up for the best play of camp so far. Brees fired a perfect pass over the middle that Graham went up and pulled in with his fingertips despite good coverage from inside linebacker Curtis Lofton.
“I had perfect coverage. That’s just Drew Brees,” Lofton said. “He threw that back-shoulder fade and there’s no way to stop that, especially with Jimmy. He has great hands and is a big, tall guy and he just caught it.
“I asked coach (Joe Vitt) what I could have done better, and he just said, ‘They had a good quarterback.’ ”
1. After a rough start Friday with three turnovers, the offense had a better go of it Saturday with no giveaways in two team periods totaling 35 plays.
2. Akiem Hicks again was the starting left defensive end, even though Kenyon Coleman practiced after missing Friday’s workout with the flu.
3. Texas got the best of Oklahoma when safety Kenny Vaccaro broke up a long pass in the end zone for wide receiver Kenny Stills during 1-on-1 drills.
4. Luke McCown had a good day Saturday and is making a strong push to be Drew Brees’ backup, but Seneca Wallace shouldn’t be counted out yet.
5. After a hot Friday, the players got a reprieve when it rained before practice and gray skies kept the temperatures down throughout the workout.
Out: WR Marques Colston (foot), CB Patrick Robinson (knee), LB Victor Butler (knee), WR Jarred Fayson (dehydration).
Limited: SS Roman Harper (sports hernia).
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