Sharper, Colston to start on PUP list
METAIRIE, La. -- The New Orleans Saints opened training camp Thursday and coach Sean Payton and general manager Mickey Loomis said reporting day went smoothly.
Rookies Patrick Robinson and Matt Tennant were the only no-shows, but Robinson, a cornerback drafted in the first round out of Florida State, agreed to terms on a five-year deal Thursday night, and was expected to arrive in New Orleans Friday morning.
Tennant already has signed but was excused for the death of his mother.
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Robinson was the last of the Saints' six 2010 draft picks to reach a deal. He will give the Saints another potential nickel back behind their starting cornerback tandem of Tracy Porter and Jabari Greer.
Four players will miss the first week or two of practice and be placed on the team's physically unable to perform (PUP) list: safety Darren Sharper, linebacker Clint Ingram and receivers Marques Colston and Robert Meachem.
Loomis said Colston recently had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee, the same knee on which he had microfracture surgery about 18 months ago. Sharper and Ingram also had offseason surgery on their left knees, while Meachem had toe surgery.
However, neither Payton nor Loomis anticipated long absences for any of those players.
"What it really means is they weren't able to pass their physical today," Loomis said. "They have a little time left in their rehab before they can be full-go at practice. ... We expect all these guys to be participating in practice full-go prior to the first preseason game" on Aug. 12.
All of the players who went into the offseason as restricted free agents showed up, even those unhappy with their current one-year contracts, such as running back Pierre Thomas.
Loomis said the Saints still hope to reach a long-term extension with Thomas, but that did not seem imminent.
"All I can say is that we've had discussions and we have a difference of opinion, but we're still talking," Loomis said.
Thomas had missed several offseason practices while negotiations were ongoing. But Payton noted that attendance at offseason training sessions was close to 100 percent, and it did not appear any players had gotten fat and happy in the aftermath of their championship.
"I was encouraged with the shape these guys are in," he said.
Payton said he'd also thought a lot about the challenges that come with defending a title and talked about it with a number of coaches or players in various sports who'd tried to defend championships before. He declined to say whom he spoke with because some are still competing, but did share a little of what they discussed.
"You hear some of the recurring themes that it starts from within, the challenge of staying hungry, of not assuming that you're going to be back in the postseason," Payton said. "You try to outline and identify and really look closely at some of those topics, having that same taste of hunger and attention to detail, and not allowing your mind to think that everything will take care of itself by the time of the first game of the season starts. The process has to begin again and it doesn't pick up where you left off.
"I think identifying those challenges is one thing and that attacking them is another. That's where we start."
Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.