METAIRIE — New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees had a cool surprise for his teammates and fans who finally got to see them practice Saturday afternoon at the team’s training facility.
Brees, who received an NFL-record five-year, $100 million contract on July 15, treated coaches, players and fans to snowballs from Plum Street Snowballs in uptown New Orleans.
Fans were served for two hours from a makeshift stand set up outside the gates of the training facility and players got the same treatment near the entrance of their locker room after the 21/2-hour practice.
“Drew came in one day last week and asked us if we could do it,” said Plum Street owner Donna Black.
Brees said he wanted to do something for the fans, especially after the first two open practices Thursday and Friday were forced indoors because of rain.
“I just wanted to do something special for them,” he said, “just cool them off on a hot summer day while they watch their boys play football.”
Back in pads
After working the first three days in soft gear and helmets, as mandated by the collective bargaining agreement, the Saints donned full gear for the first time Saturday.
“We’ve been chomping at the bit to get back on the field,” Brees said. “We had a couple of days of pretty extensive walkthroughs, a lot of meeting time, just installing a lot of the offense and defense.
“It is camp, it is that mindset. We are here to work, we are here to get better, we are here to prepare ourselves for, hopefully, a great season. We see the opportunity in front of us and this is the first step.”
Cornerback Jabari Greer had two interceptions Saturday, including one off Brees when he tried to toss the ball out in the flat to fullback Jed Collins when Greer jumped the route and went untouched for a touchdown.
Two player later, wide receiver Marques Colston helped Brees make up for it when he made a leaping, one-handed catch and pulled the ball in with his right hand while cornerback Elbert Mack gave chase.
Cornerback Johnny Patrick, who was rushing the passer on a zone blitz, jumped up and snared an interception off Chase Daniel.
Greer could only smile when asked about his interception against Brees.
“I’m not going to give away my secret formula,” Greer said, “but it’s something as a cornerback you hope the quarterback throws. Fortunately, he threw it, but you have to realize we know how good Drew is. We know he doesn’t make that mistake too many times.”
Brees said he was so angry that he asked offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael Jr. to get back at Greer on the next play.
“Pete called the play and I said, ‘Can I call this instead because I want to throw one over the top of Jabari?’ ” Brees said. “He got depth, so we weren’t able to get past him. But I was looking to make him pay the very next time.”
Interim head coach Joe Vitt said the Saints hope to get rookie defensive tackle Akiem Hicks back on the field Tuesday.
The team’s third-round draft pick is recovering from a fractured right hand, an injured he suffered during organized team activities in June. The Saints will practice Sunday, but are off on Monday.
Also missing Saturday’s workout was tight end David Thomas, who sat out a second straight practice with a lower back strain.
Brees said his wife, Brittany Brees, is expecting their third child — another boy to go with sons Baylen and Bowen — on Aug. 19.
But it could be sooner, he said, which could impact his play in the first two exhibition games.
After next Sunday’s Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio, the Saints will fly directly to Foxborough, Mass., to practice with the New England Patriots in advance of their Aug. 9 preseason game.
“She’s ready,” Brees said. “If that baby comes, I’m coming back.”