|Saints QB Sean Canfield (#4) throws during training camp in the team's indoor practice facility (Photo: Parker Waters).|
METAIRIE - It was business as usual for the New Orleans Saints even though they held their final local practice of training camp in the team's indoor practice facility.
With Friday slated as a travel day ahead of Saturday night's game at the Houston Texans, this workout was just another step in the battles for roster spots and positioning on the depth chart.
Some game preparation did take place though. The first string defensie went against a scout team led by quarterback Sean Canfield running the Texans offensive plays.
Jahri Evans was limited due to a minor injury, and center-of-the-future Matt Tennant lined up at his guard spot. The latter appears to be the first option at both guard spots if injury strikes Evans or Carl Nicks in the regular season.
On the plus side, starting free safety Malcolm Jenkins returned to practice and will see time at Houston. Both Evans and Jenkins will play Saturday while cornerback Tracy Porter not play in a decision previously made as a precaution by Saints head coach Sean Payton.
"That has been the plan all along," said Payton.
The starters who do play against Houston may see close to an entire half of action, or pretty much the norm for week two of an NFL preseason.
"From a snap count, somewhere between 20 and 25 plays. Hopefully close to 25 plays," said Payton about his expectations for his starting units. "That may or may not get us to the half, but somewhere in that range."
Fullbacks Jeb Collins and Korey Hall split time with the first unit and are in a battle to see who makes the final roster. The Saints will once again carry just one fullback into the season.
Saints wide receiver coach Curtis Johnson was all over rookie receiver Jarred Fayson for a dropped pass and then jumped on Fayson again for running the wrong route.
In the highlight of the practice, wide receiver Robert Meachem was able to work himself behind Pierson Pierson for a 60-yard touchdown from Drew Brees.
A long pass to rookie Joseph Morgan for a touchdown later drew the ire of defensive coordinator Greg Williams, who went into a rage and pulled his defense off the field. The always-fiery coach then called together a huddle with his squad to let them know the extent of his anger.
The defense did string together some highlight moments. A pass was broken up by safety Roman Harper that should have been an interception but it went through his hands. Harper made another nice play on a throw over the middle and has justified his hefty new contract with his camp performance to date.
A screen was stuffed by defensive linemen Sedrick Ellis and Will Smith. A long pass was incomplete thaks to good coverage by Prioleau and fellow safety Jon Amaya.
Rookie safety DeAndre McDaniel, who hopes to develop on the Saints roster behind Harper at strong safety, intercepted a pass over the middle.
Brees, who some have criticized as not looking his best in camp at times, had some pinpoint throws. Running back Patrick Cobbs took a quick hitter and cut to the middle for a 10 yard gain. Brees made a sideline throw to Pierre Thomas for 15 yards and then a strong throw down the seam to tight end David Thomas for 25 yards.
The Saints were a bit sloppy on offense in red zone work. Brees passed to Devery Henderson who dropped what would have been a touchdown. Brees later overthrew and open Marques Colston in the end zone. Darren Sproles, who looked nifty breaking to the outside on one long run earlier in practice, did score in this portion of the drills on a handoff from Brees.
Safety Chris Reis and linebacker Jon Casillas were excused from practice because their wives were having a baby.
Cornerback Leigh Torrence (hip) and tight end Tory Humphrey (knee) missed practice Thursday and appear likely to miss Saturday's game. The duo would join a list of 10 others who will also miss the Texans tilt: RB Chris Ivory (foot, sports hernia), RB Joique Bell (knee), LB Clint Ingram (hamstring), LB Ezra Butler (sports hernia), LB Ramon Humber (quad), CB Johnny Patrick (knee), CB Fabian Washington (hamstring), DE Jeff Charleston (ankle), DE Greg Romeus (knee) and DT Tom Johnson (calf).
The team picked up cornerback Quincy Butler and placed offensive tackle Alex Barron on IR. The 27-year old Butler spent time on the New Orleans practice squad in 2008 and has started eight NFL games, all with the St. Louis Rams.
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