NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Thousands of Saints fans turned out at Airline Drive Saturday, for the first full practice in pads.
And after a three year hiatus, the faithful were pleased to have the players back home for training camp.
Hope springs eternal as the Saints invite their fans to see them work out for the first time this year.
"It's long overdue, we wanted to see them a long time, West Virginia is far away," said fan Jason Simms.
For the first time in four years, the Saints opened training camp at home, and at today's fan fest, it was standing room only.
"I want to see (Hau'Oli) Kikaha...see how he come back from that ACL injury," said Simms.
But aside from football, there's plenty of fun for the family. Young fans get pictures taken with Saintsations. There are inflatable obstacle courses, and basketball goals.
More than 3,500 showed up for Saturday's practice, among them, lots of parents with kids, as fans young and old, strain to see promising newcomers, or favored veterans.
"I want to see (Adrian) Peterson and see Kenny step up a little bit," said fan Jonathan Haslam.
He's referring to safety Kenny Vaccaro, who after four years, is a part of a defense that has struggled, but one drill seems to focus on forcing turnovers, as players practice stripping the ball, a promising sign for fans hungry for change.
"Improvement on the defense. I want to see better stats, and get more interceptions," said Haslam.
As savvy fans pick out their favorite players, they also seem optimistic about this year's record, after three losing seasons.
"Realistic 10-6, 10-6," said Haslam.
"12-4," said Simms.
Saints fan predictions are far rosier than what national pundits are saying...but they are Who Dats after all, willing to brave the heat, to watch their heroes as they prepare for another season.
Big crowds are again expected Sunday and Monday...as Saints fan days continue.
Practices will also be open to the public Wednesday and for the next two Saturdays. You must have tickets to attend. Go to neworleanssaints.com.
They're free, but going fast.