For the second year in a row, New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton will take a special trip to the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday for the annual induction ceremony.
After Saturday’s Black and Gold Scrimmage, Payton will travel to Canton, Ohio, to watch former NFL coach Bill Parcells be inducted. Payton was a part of Parcells’ staff with the Dallas Cowboys from 2003-05 before becoming the Saints’ coach.
“It was later in my career as an assistant coach, but it gave me a chance to spend three years with someone who’s very talented,” Payton said of his stint with the two-time Super Bowl-winning coach. “It was a lot like going to law school for me.
“I think anyone that has had some success in our careers, generally we’ve been fortunate enough to be around some people that have been successful,” he said. “That certainly has been the case for me. He is well-deserved and I really am excited for him. I think it is a special honor.”
Payton was a member of Parcells’ offensive staff when guard Larry Allen, who is also being inducted Saturday night, was wrapping up his Cowboys career.
Payton, who was suspended last year, went to Canton for the induction of former Saints tackle William Roaf.
Officials check in
A group of NFL, college and high school officials arrived Thursday to work the practice as well as Friday’s workout and Saturday’s Black and Gold Scrimmage.
Before practice, longtime NFL referee Walt Coleman gave a media presentation, which included a video highlighting the rules changes and points of emphasis for the 2013 season.
Coleman’s crew included Sarah Thomas, who’s trying to become the NFL’s first regular female official, and Pittsburgh high school official Amanda Sauer. Also on the crew were two veterans from Louisiana — line judge Carl Johnson of Thibodaux and field judge Greg Gauthreaux of Lafayette.
Brees defends himself
If his tipping policies on takeout meals is the biggest controversy the Saints deal with this season, quarterback Drew Brees will be thrilled, he said after Thursday’s practice.
Brees, signed to a $100 million contract last year, left $3 on a $74.41 takeout order from Del Mar Rendezvous Chinese fusion restaurant in Del Mar, Calif., last month.
Someone snapped a photo of the receipt signed by Brees, and the picture got around, sparking a debate across national news and social media about whether the MVP of Super Bowl XLIV was cheap.
Wednesday night, Brees tweeted he would’ve tipped more than 20 percent if he had sat down to eat in the restaurant.
Because it was takeout, Brees said, he left $3.
The restaurant manager apologized to Brees about the photo and donated $888.88 to the Brees Dream Foundation because eight is the luckiest number in Chinese culture. He said the receipt “would indicate Mr. Brees is a very generous individual, as … takeout orders do not usually garner a tip at our restaurant.”
After missing two days of practice with a sore back, inside linebacker Curtis Lofton returned for Thursday’s workout and had full participation with the first-team defense.
Running back Mark Ingram was held out of the indoor practice to rest and should be back for Friday’s practice, Payton said.
A closer look: Junior Galette
Position: Outside linebacker.
Years in the NFL: 4.
Acquired: Signed as an undrafted free agent May 5, 2010.
Career highlights: Former defensive end had career-high five sacks in 12 games last year, topping the 41/2 he recorded in 2011. Had the first two-sack game of his career in a loss to the Chiefs in Week 3.
Strengths: Quickness, agility, strength.
Must improve on: Dropping into coverage.
Projection: Converted to OLB for 3-4 defense, Galette has learned two new positions. He was at the rush spot but will likely be the starting strongside linebacker after a knee injury to Victor Butler last month.
Spotlight on ... linebackers
On solid ground: Curtis Lofton (ILB), Jonathan Vilma (ILB), Will Smith (OLB), Junior Galette (OLB), Martez Wilson (OLB).
Work to do: Will Herring (ILB), Chris Chamberlain (ILB), Ramon Humber (ILB), David Hawthorne (ILB).
Plenty to prove: Baraka Atkins (OLB), Rufus Johnson (OLB), Chase Thomas (OLB).
Camp developments: The starters — Lofton, Vilma, Smith and Galette — have done some good work. Wilson is out at least two more weeks, but the younger players will get lots of reps.
Out: LB Martez Wilson (elbow), QB Seneca Wallace (groin), DE Tom Johnson (hip), RB Mark Ingram (coaches’ decision), LB Ray Shipman (hamstring), WR Marques Colston (foot), CB Patrick Robinson (knee), LB Victor Butler (knee).
Five observations from Thursday’s practice
1. After missing two days with a sore back, inside linebacker Curtis Lofton returned Thursday and took his usual spot with the first-team defense.
2. Garrett Hartley nailed all three of his field goals from 39, 42 and 44 yards, while free agent Jose Maltos made two of his kicks, but was wide left from 42 yards.
3. Special teams ace Courtney Roby showed he may be improving as a receiver, catching touchdown passes from Drew Brees and Luke McCown.
4. Tight end Benjamin Watson, who’s been reliable, couldn’t haul in a Brees pass in the end zone, resulting in an interception by Jonathan Vilma.
5. Nick Toon made a spectacular catch at the back pylon during 7-on-7 drills, going high to reach over A.J. Davis’ helmet to grab an arcing McCown pass.
“A lot of them are standing out, actually. I mean literally, every single one of them. You put them in there and feel a level of confidence. So we will see how it shakes out.” — Saints QB Drew Brees on the competition for the third and fourth wide receiver spots.
“All I know is she is wearing black and white and she’s got a hat and a whistle, so I have to be real nice to her. … She’s very helpful at explaining calls and giving us examples.” — Saints TE Jimmy Graham on Sarah Thomas, who’s on track to be the NFL’s first female official.
Ramon Antonio Vargas contributed to this report.