Saints punt returners wear boxing gloves at practice

By Rachel Wold

Never accuse New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton of being conventional—it’s a losing argument.

The Saints added an unique item to their practice wardrobe on Sunday, as their punt returners sported boxing gloves.

Saints head coach Sean Payton explained the purpose of this interesting uniform addition (via ESPN):

“It really forces them to put their body in the correct position to catch a ball,” explained coach Sean Payton, who said they did it once in the spring as well. “So it’s a way of taking their hands away, keeping their elbows together and really locating the ball with their feet, getting set.”

As for the question of who will be returning punts this year for the Saints, the position is currently open. Multiple prospects including second season wide receiver Brandin Cooks and running back C.J. Spiller, are trying to wrest the role.

Additionally, the Saints drafted seventh-rounder running back Marcus Murphy because of his return skills, and the rookie stood out in Thursday’s preseason opener against the Baltimore Ravens.

Late last year, wide receiver Jalen Saunders, who is dealing with an unspecified injury, returned punts for the Saints. He’ll need to return to health soon in order to fight Murphy and some of the other players for the right to keep his job on the special teams unit.

Beside Payton’s intended purpose for the gloves, we can all agree they look awkward—not to mention they are a toasty addition out there in the hot sun.