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Saints bracing for involuntary Hard Knocks assignment


Three days at the Scouting Combine resulted in plenty of intriguing information landing in the PFT bucket, and the biggest goal for the next two days will be to share as much of it as possible. To the extent I can remember it.

Here’s one thing I remember. Per a league source, the Saints are bracing for the possibility of the league tapping them on the shoulder and directing them to be the subject of the annual Hard Knocks series.

The Saints are one of seven teams that can be forced to do it, under criteria the league developed several years ago. Only teams that: (1) have a new coach; (2) have been to the postseason in either of the last two years; or (3) have served as the Hard Knocks subject within the last 10 years can say no. This year, the teams that can’t decline are the Saints, Bills, Bears, Jaguars, Raiders, Chargers, and Rams.

Here’s one thing that won’t be happening if Hard Knocks descends on Saints training camp (which could be returning for the third straight year to West Virginia): Saints players won’t be fighting with players from other teams during joint practices, for the benefit of the cameras.

As the Saints and Patriots prepared to share a practice field at the Greenbrier last summer, Payton told his players, “If you decide to fight, pack your bags.” Payton later bemoaned that fact that NFL Network excessively hyped a brouhaha between the Cowboys and the Rams.

Here’s another thing that may not be happening if the Saints get the assignment: Payton may resist allowing camera into the room when players are being cut. And that, frankly, could be enough to get the NFL to draft a team that would be more willing to allow what often are the most compelling moments of the series to be captured.