Chesney lights up final Saints practice|[08/12/2008]

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 12, 2008

JACKSON – While the New Orleans Saints said goodbye to Millsaps College with their final training camp practice for 2008, they were able to say hello to a country music superstar.

Kenny Chesney had no problems putting on a No. 7 Saints jersey, a Saints helmet and field turf shoes to work out with coach Sean Payton’s team Monday afternoon at Millsaps’ Harper Davis Field. After the 90-minute workout, the Saints began packing up to return to their home base in Metairie while Chesney retreated back to his tour bus.

“We always like to give a player a second chance and that’s what we gave Chesney, today,” Payton quipped inside the Saints’ media tent.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

“I think this shows what a great coach Sean Payton is to play for,” Chesney said of what became a lighthearted affair later in the practice. Chesney ran a few patterns for quarterback Drew Brees and then worked on a red zone play, which saw him take a lateral handoff during an 11-on-11 drill. He finished off by fielding a couple of punts. If he caught one, the Saints would have Sunday off following Saturday night’s preseason game at the Superdome against the Houston Texans.

“That was a lot of pressure. Eighty guys wanting Sunday off. The first one I totally blew. On the second one, ya’ll saw, they totally interfered with me,” Chesney said, replaying his botched attempt in between six members of the Saints’ punt team. He caught the third punt off a hop.

“It was great to get away from the tour bus and from my guitar player’s amps,” Chesney said. He and Payton have been friends since Payton was an assistant coach with the New York Giants. He has a concert in New Orleans on Thursday.

As for wrapping up practice at Millsaps, Payton was quite appreciative to the school.

“I think it gets better with each year. The big thing this year was that the fields were in great shape,” Payton said. “This is a special place for us to come to. This time we were here for two weeks. Two years ago, we were here for nearly four weeks, but it seemed like two months.”

Saints defensive end Charles Grant says Millsaps serves the team’s purpose.

“It’s a nice place because the fans can come see us. Having a camp here makes you humble, that’s why I’m glad I’ll be able to rest in my own bed,” Grant said.

All of the Saints’ practices in Jackson were open to the public. When they return to work in Metairie on Wednesday, they will be closed. The Saints will be joined in Metairie by the Texans for a pair of practices in preparation for Saturday night’s game.

The Saints are coming off a 24-10 win at Arizona in their preseason opener last Thursday.

“We’ve still got four weeks left in the preseason and we need to continue to work on what we’ve started here,” Payton said. “I like how our younger guys have gotten more consistent and we’ve been able to get folks like (Marques) Colston and (Jeremy) Shockey back in the fold of practice.”