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Signs of Life 

The Saints training camp gives fans their first chance to check out this year's team. Everyone is waiting to see if second-year wide receiver Devery Henderson is going to take advantage of this year's training camp to become a legitimate, consistent threat. Photo by Michael C. Hebert/New Orleans Saints We want a sign. We want something to justify the hope we bring to every Saints season, the hope that this year, baby, we're going to The Show. We look for signs on draft day and this year we found some in the selections of Oklahoma offensive tackle Jammal Brown; then again, the Saints have drafted offensive linemen before who looked good on paper but were underwhelming once on the field. It was good to see the Saints draft Nebraska safety Josh Bullock to help out a defensive backfield that showed signs of improvement by the end of last season, but how fast will he learn the system?

The Saints acquired former St. Louis Ram and Detroit Lion Az-Zahir Hakim at wide receiver and former Tampa Bay Buccaneer safety Dwight Smith, and both sound good. Then again, the coaching staff was high on Tebucky Jones and Ashley Ambrose when they were acquired in 2003 and 2004, respectively, and they worked out so poorly neither is on the team this year. In short, is this the year the Saints get the kind of help the coaches say they've found for the problems that need solved?

Nothing tells us what we want to know like our own two eyes, and training camp at the Saints Training Facility at 5800 Airline Drive in Metairie is the first chance to see this year's team. It starts Friday, July 29, and the first chance to see game action is the Saints Family Fan Fest and Black & Gold Scrimmage Saturday, Aug. 6, in Jackson, Miss. Last year, that scrimmage raised our hopes for then-rookie Devery Henderson, who made such an impressive 65-yard catch that many of us phoned the late, great Buddy D all season asking when he was going to get his chance.

Less than a week after the BankPlus Black & Gold Scrimmage and Family Fun Fest, the Saints play their first pre-season game against the Seattle Seahawks in the Louisiana Superdome Friday, Aug. 12. Those games aren't necessarily as revealing as watching players go through drills, though. Morning practices are scheduled from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and they're open to the public Saturday, July 30; Monday, Aug. 1; Wednesday, Aug. 3; Friday, Aug. 5; Monday, Aug. 8; Thursday, Aug. 11; Monday, Aug. 15; and Monday, Aug. 22.

Afternoon sessions last from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., and they're open Friday, July 29; Sunday, July 31; Tuesday, Aug. 2; Thursday, Aug. 4; Tuesday, Aug. 9; Sunday, Aug. 14; Tuesday, Aug. 16; Saturday, Aug. 20; Sunday, Aug. 21; and Tuesday, Aug. 23. Gates open an hour before each practice, and there are food and drink concessions at the facility.

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