METAIRIE, La. (AP) â€" Drew Brees says he's "excited about the unknown" as the New Orleans Saints look to bounce back from the bounty scandal.
"We don't necessarily know what to expect," Brees said Tuesday as the Saints reported for training camp. "With all this stuff swirling around us, in the end, all we can worry about is what we can control. ... I know the type of guys we have. I know the coaches we have. I'm excited to watch it all come together."
Brees said the Saints have the foundation in place "to weather any storm," and that he's "all about doing things that have never been done before."
The Saints are the first NFL team to have a head coach suspended at all, never mind a whole season, the punishment that commissioner Roger Goodell handed down to Sean Payton for his failure to put a stop to what the league has described as a program that paid cash bonuses for tackles that injured opponents.
Now the Saints will try not only to move on without Payton, but try to do so well enough to become the first team to play a Super Bowl on its home field when the Superdome hosts the NFL's championship in February.
"I know what we're made of. I know where we've been. I know where we want to go," Brees said. "There's no greater opportunity than what we have right now in front of us."
Brees said it's tough not being able to even talk to Payton this season, but added that the suspended head coach, who led the Saints to their only Super Bowl title in 2009-10, has groomed the very experienced players and coaches who remain for continued success.
"You see how he was able to influence others," Brees said. "A lot of times they say that about a CEO. When he leaves the company, how does the company do? If they continue to succeed, in a lot of cases you can say it was because he helped mold and develop and mentor those that would take over after him, and I believe that's what Sean Payton has done for all of us here."
The Saints will hold conditioning tests Wednesday and their first practice of camp on Thursday.
Assistant head coach Joe Vitt has been in charge since Payton's suspension began in April, shortly before the draft. Vitt will continue to handle most head coaching duties until serving a six-game suspension to start the regular season, adding yet another challenge as it pertains to continuity on the coaching staff.
Brees and Vitt said they were confident in the Saints' ability to handle this most unusual of seasons because of a shared sense of responsibility that should leave no single coach or player trying to take on more than he can handle.
"Sean's departing remarks to us was: 'Just do your job,'" said Vitt, who was part of Payton's first staff in 2006. "We've got a veteran staff here. We've got a lot of veteran players here. This team's been through a lot together since we've been together in '06.
"Sean would be proud of the body of work that we've done to this point, but now we're on the clock," Vitt added. "It's for real now."