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Saints Minicamp Notebook: 'Heated' Practice In Wednesday Morning Work

Saints WR Devery Henderson (Photo: Parker Waters)Saints WR Devery Henderson (Photo: Parker Waters)

The New Orleans Saints went through a two-plus hour session Wednesday morning in 94 degree heat at the team's practice facility on Airline Drive.

In part due to the grueling weather, the tea's afternoon session was moved to the indoor training facility and thus closed to the public (see recap).

Frustration had mounted for the offense thanks to some quality play-making by the Saints' first-team defense. Following a blitz off the edge by middle linebacker Curtis Lofton, the warm weather practice took a brief 'heated' detour.

Saints quarterback Chase Daniel took exception to Lofton's physicality at the end of the play and threw the ball at ex-Atlanta Falcons' feet. The reaction touched off a spirited scuffle between the offensive and defensive players.

"It's all good," said Daniel brushing off the incident. It was not the first time both players had bumped into one another. Lofton, who played at Oklahoma while Daniel starred at then-Big 12 rival Missouri, had a more physical moment between them during the 2007 season.

"It was the hardest hit I've taken," said Daniel of a shot from Lofton. "We ran a speed option right."

The fill-in first string quarterback said he had a chat with Lofton minutes following the play that caused the melee.

Vitt had positive feedback for Daniel's overall work in the session. "He converted on 3rd down, he had a good day."

Safety Malcolm Jenkins picked off Daniel during team drills. Jabari Greer then jumped a curl route intended for Adrian Arrington to make it two-straight interceptions for the first team defense.

Second-year cornerback Johhny Patrick came free on one of new defensive coordinators Steve Spagnuolo's blitz packages, swatting away an attempted jump pass by Daniel. On the very next play, the University of Louisville product came up with an underthrown pass for yet another interception suffered by Daniel.

Patrick, who is a strong favorite to be the Saints' nickle corner in 2102, did not go unnoticed by interim head coach Joe Vitt.

"You usually make the biggest leap from-year one to-year two. (Patrick) is showing that he's capable of making that jump," said Vitt.

LINEBACKER PROGRESS: Meanwhile, the transition for Lofton in the Saints' defensive system is progressing well. "(Lofton) continues to get better. He communicates well (with teammates)."

Vitt likes what the other offsesaon free agent signings have brought to the revamped linebacker position.

"David Hawthorne has been a pleasant surprise. (Chris) Chamberlain is a system-oriented linebacker. He's a good voice in the locker room." Chamberlain is familiar with Spagnuolo's defense having come over with his former head coach in St. Louis.

Marcel Jones, this year's seventh round pick, also drew praise and could factor in on the offensive line in the long run. "He's a big body that doesn't panic," Vitt said of the 6-foot-7, 325 pounder out of Nebraska." He's shown some athletic ability."

CATCHING ON: Minicamps tend to give wide receivers a chance to show off their skills. The morning practice was a prime example of that phenomenon.

Devery Henderson continues to make the difficult catches look simple. The veteran from LSU seems to improve a little every year.

Rookie free agent Chris Givens out of Miami of Ohio is making a case for himself. Wearing #17, Givens (6-2, 203) draws a resemblance to departed Robert Meachem who donned that jersey number previously.

Givens later made a one-handed pluck out of the air in the back of the endzone, much to the surprise of safeties Isa Abdul-Quddus and Jonathan Amaya.

Joe Morgan, a second-year player, looked sharp on a 30-yard "Go" route, beating latest veteran acquisition Elbert Mack on nice throw by quarterback Seam Canfield.

Third-year free agent wide receiver Andy Tanner made a beautiful fingertip snare on a deep 25-yard out in front of the fans on the bleachers side of the practice fields. Tanner has been a behind-the-scenes asset his entire tenure with the team, mostly as a practice squad member.

Seven-year veteran Lance Moore was flashing exceptional skills with a fingertip catch of his own while turning his body in mid-air.

Rookie Nick Toon with a touchdown catch during a Red Zone offense drill using only his right hand. The fourth round pick from Wisconsin is physical enough to be a factor in tight quarters.

The highlight reel grabs weren't isolated to the receivers only. Darren Sproles showed off a good set of mitts on a deep route via an over-the-shoulder catch for a 30 yard gain.

Speaking of trying to 'catch on', quarterback Luke McCown threw sharply and had good zip on the ball in his quest for a spot on the New Orleans training camp roster.

INJURY REPORT: Two noticeable absences in the morning workout were starting right tackle Zach Streif (ankle) and oft-injured running back Chris Ivory (hamstring). Both will be withheld from drills for the rest of the minicamp and re-evaluated on Monday.

 

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