NEW ORLEANS —
Crossfit training involves timed sets of both weightlifting and conditioning activities.
A number of Saints players have divided themselves into teams and held crossfit competitions to ratchet up the intensity even more.
Payton, who also played at the golf outing on Monday, said the start of what are known as OTAs — and which are voluntary offseason practices without pads — will mark the beginning of a key transitional period for the defense, as coaches evaluate how players returning from last year’s squad fit best in the new scheme.
Defensive captain Will Smith, for example, will begin work at outside linebacker, rather than the defensive end spot at which he has played his whole career.
“That’s where we’ll start him,” Payton said, noting that outside linebackers often play pass-rushing roles in a 3-4 scheme. “We can play him right and left, but I think initially that right outside position would be very similar to what he’s played for us in the past.”
Payton said he envisions veteran Jonathan Vilma as one of the two middle linebackers in the new scheme.
“There’s just got to be some flexibility when it comes to the transition,” Payton said. “There’ll be a few players that will learn more than one spot.”
Smith said he’ll have to get used to starting plays in an upright stance, whereas before he crouched down with a hand on the turf. But beyond that, he said learning the new position is “not that bad.”
“I may have a couple (pass) coverage responsibilities, but for the most part I’m just rushing (the passer) and playing the run,” Smith said.
For Smith, the bigger difference — and a welcome one — is heading into a season without any bounty accusations or possible suspensions hanging over his head, and having Payton back at team headquarters.