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Saints Joint Practices to Test Chargers' "Mental Fortitude"

In advance of their game against the Chargers on Sunday, the New Orleans Saints will literally come marching in  to Jack Hammett Sports Complex on Thursday for a series of joint practices with the Bolts.

The first session marks the third joint practice of the summer for the Chargers, but second against a new opponent.

“I’m looking forward to competing against a team that I’m not familiar with to go out there and work our tails off,” Travis Benjamin said.  “It’s very helpful knowing we’re seeing another defense and seeing other players who go out and defend.  Hopefully we’ll go out there and it’ll be a good practice for us.”

“It’s a chance to get a good look against a Hall of Fame quarterback and good offense,” added Jason Verrett.  “It’s another day to keep competing and get better as a defense.”

Joint practices are relatively unfamiliar for some of the newest Chargers like Russell Okung.  However, much like his teammates, he sees these as ways to help get ready for the regular season.

“Playing somebody else and not being certain that you know somebody that well (makes you) rely on your fundamentals,” Okung said.  “How quickly can you learn to play an opponent?  Will that transfer over to game day?  It’s a good lesson.  It’s a little bit of a crash course and a test of our mental fortitude if we can put the right sort of days together and rely on the work we’ve put into the whole camp.”

While teams don’t game plan for their opponents in the preseason, Thursday and Friday offer the Chargers a look at an unfamiliar opponent.  For players like Benjamin, that means showing off his moves.

“When you have another team coming in and you get to show off new moves that your team gets to see in practice every day, but you get to see new things and continue to work,” Benjamin said.  “I have a couple moves that Casey (Hayward) and Verrett are used to seeing me run, but hopefully tomorrow, I’ll use them against the Saints.”

“Travis has been having a hell of a camp, so I’m excited to see him catch those deep balls against (Saints) defenders,” Verrett explained.  “(For me), going against guys like Michael Thomas and Drew Brees is going to be fun.”

For Korey Toomer, he’s using the joint practices to help prepare for his role in Sunday’s game.  Having to help fill Denzel Perryman’s shoes while he recovers from surgery, Toomer said the practices will be extremely helpful in getting the looks he needs.

“We’ll get a feel for their offense and how the tempo is; how fast they get aligned to set up and how fast we have to go as a defense,” Toomer explained.  “It’ll be a great study for us…. For me, taking a look at a different offense is the main key.  Trying to play my assignment and techniques, and see how that goes against a different opponent against our own team is a good look.”

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