Essendon captain Zach Merrett has boasted "stability" at Tullamarine as the Bombers were put through their pre-season paces during a rainy session at the Hangar on Saturday, while an injury update on a fan-favourite has been revealed.

As many as 15 senior Essendon players recently returned home from a player-funded training camp in the American state of Arizona, as the Brad Scott-led Bombers prepare for a critical 2024 campaign.


The Dons' skipper fronted the media at the club's training base following a gruelling session in wet conditions.

"It feels, not new, but it feels like we've got some really good stability across the board, but also some fresh ideas [and] fresh faces," Merrett told reporters on Saturday.

ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 07: Zach Merrett of the Bombers runs out during the 2023 AFL Round 08 match between the Port Adelaide Power and the Essendon Bombers at Adelaide Oval on May 7, 2023 in Adelaide, Australia. (Photo by James Elsby/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Among those fresh faces are former North Melbourne pair Ben McKay and Todd Goldstein, as well as ex-Saint Jade Gresham, who was present at the aforementioned camp in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Another inclusion to Essendon's 2024 cause is top-end draftee Nate Caddy, whom Merrett has been impressed by this pre-season.

"A few of our backs were a bit nervous today when he'd come running through a few of those contests," Merrett said with a smile.

"I think he's going to be one of those guys that we love playing with [and] who I think fans are going to really enjoy watching."

Essendon draftee Nate Caddy (right) with former player Michael Hurley (Image via Essendon FC)

The Bombers will be further buoyed by the potential Round 1 return of bullocking ruckman Sam Draper, who has been bogged down by multiple injuries since the midway point of last season.

Draper, who has juggled burdensome hip and groin ailments, was sighted running at Tullamarine on Saturday for just the third time since undergoing surgery, with the 25-year-old aiming to rejoin main training in January.

"I don't want to put too much pressure on it," Draper told club members at Tullamarine.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 10: Tom De Koning of the Blues and Sam Draper of the Bombers compete for the ball during the round 13 AFL match between the Essendon Bombers and the Carlton Blues at Melbourne Cricket Ground on June 10, 2022 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

"I want to be 100 per cent (healthy) and feel good for the whole season, so we'll see when that is, but [I'm] definitely aiming for Round 1."

Essendon will face Hawthorn in its anticipated Round 1 fixture in March.