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New Orleans Saints 2012 Training Camp Preview

REPORT DATE: July 24th

SITE: Saints Training Facility, Metairie, LA

CAMP OBJECTIVES: The Saints will likely be eager to hit the practice fields once again after experiencing one of the most tumultuous offseasons any professional franchise has ever endured. And although Super Bowl-winning head coach Sean Payton and middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma won't be present at Metairie after being hit with season-long suspensions for their roles in the Bountygate scandal, the recent signing of Drew Brees to a new five-year contract that ensures the star quarterback won't miss any camp time was a positive step for a team ready to turn the page on the past few months. With nearly every key member of New Orleans' record-setting offense also returning, interim head coach Joe Vitt shouldn't have too many worries on that side, but a defense that'll be breaking in two new starting linebackers in free-agent additions Curtis Lofton and David Hawthorne and is now being run by ex-Rams sideline boss Steve Spagnuolo may need a bit of an adjustment period. Finding consistent pass rushers and a dependable nickel back from a group headed by 2011 third-rounder Johnny Patrick and newcomer Elbert Mack (Tampa Bay) will also be on Spagnuolo's agenda, while the kicking competition between the strong-legged Garrett Hartley and 42-year-old John Kasay should be one of the more interesting battles of camp.

PRESEASON SCHEDULE (All Times Eastern):

Aug. 5 - vs. Arizona (at Canton, OH), 8 p.m. Aug. 9 - at New England, 7:30 p.m. Aug. 17 - vs. Jacksonville, 8 p.m. Aug. 25 - vs. Houston, 8 p.m. Aug. 30 - at Tennessee, 7 p.m.