NEW ORLEANS —
In 2012, Smith initially was issued a four-game suspension, and Vilma a full-season ban, for what the NFL said were their roles as leaders in a bounty program that rewarded big plays — including big and sometimes injury-causing hits — with improper cash bonuses. However, player suspensions were never served and ultimately thrown out on appeal.
“It’s definitely a different year,” Smith said. “Sean coming back brings a whole different element to the team. ... Nothing’s been the same since he’s been back. I think that’s perfect for the group to move on, putting everything behind us and start a whole completely new year.”
The OTAs, which are scheduled to be closed on Tuesday and Wednesday, and open to media on Thursday, also mark the first time players acquired in 2012, such as starting guard Ben Grubbs, will have a chance to work with Payton on the gridiron.
“I was looking forward to getting a chance to play with coach Payton,” Grubbs said. “He’s one of the main reasons why I signed here.”
Notes: The Saints on Monday waived defensive end Braylon Broughton. The 6-foot-6, 272-pound Broughton was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2012 out of TCU and spent last season on the practice squad.