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Young Players Garner Attention, McCown Earns Contract As Saints Conclude June Minicamp

Rookie WR Nick Toon did not disappoint Saints' coaches during a solid minicamp with the full squad (Photo: Parker Waters).Rookie WR Nick Toon did not disappoint Saints' coaches during a solid minicamp with the full squad (Photo: Parker Waters).METAIRIE - The New Orleans Saints wrapped up their three-day June minicamp at the team's practice facility.

It was a bit cooler Thursday morning because of some cloud cover. There was even a few sprinkles at the end of practice around noon.

The buzz around camp is that the Saints are very close to re-signing franchise quarterback Drew Brees.

Also, interim Saints head coach Joe Vitt dealt with fallout from the brief practice scuffle from Wednesday morning. Players from offense and defense were physical after the whistle when quarterback Chase Daniel took offense with linebacker Curtis Lofton after a play in team drills.

Reports circulated today that the NFL is looking into the incident to determine if any physical contact disallowed under the current CBA took place.

"The guys are moving great, they’re moving quick. They’re intense but outstanding. I think that everyone understands here with the CBA, some of the things that we do are slower now. I think that we need to understand the rules," Vitt noted regarding how the new rules affect minicamp activities. "We couldn’t be more happy with where we are right now.”

ProFootballTalk reports that the league did not send anyone to Saints' camp to investigate in person, however.

Meanwhile, the on-field work continued for the players under contract and in the fold.

Joe Morgan (6-1, 184) from Walsh College is a real threat as a receiver with great speed and kick return skills,. He looked good in training camp last season before a season-ending injury. To make the team and bump another receiver like veterans Adrian Arrington and Courtney Roby, Morgan will have to show not only his skills on special teams as a return man but also a gunner on kickoffs.

"We tell our guys hey it’s rare to have a guy who can be a punt returner, kick returner, and cover kicks so those guys are rare and Courtney (Roby)’s a great example and so no different than Joe Morgan," explained Saints special teams coach Greg McMahon. "Joe knows that he has to be versatile. Certainly he’s got values as a returner but he’s also got to be able to cover kicks."

Vitt also expects last year's first round pick Cameron Jordan to show more of a pass rush this season. The change in defensive scheme under new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo is something that Vitt hopes with help the defensive end reach his full promise.

"I think the new system fits him perfectly. I think we'll see a little more of his pass rush skills this year. We've been happy with him, really happy," Vitt noted.

SAINTS SIGN TWO: After an impressive showing this week, veteran journeyman quarterback Luke McCown was signed by the Saints to a one-year contract. He will compete in training camp with returnees Daniel and Sean Canfield. Here's the information on McCown, the former Louisiana Tech star, from the official Saints release:

McCown, a 6-4, 217-pound quarterback entering his ninth NFL season, is a former fourth-round selection of the Cleveland Browns. A native of Jacksonville, Texas who went on to star at Louisiana Tech, McCown has played in 20 career games with nine starts in stints with Cleveland (2004), the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2005-08) and the Jacksonville Jaguars (2009-11). He has completed 184-of-316 career pass attempts for 2,035 yards with nine touchdowns and 14 interceptions for a passer rating of 68.5.

New Orleans also inked rookie free agent RB Joe Banyard to a three-year contract. The former UTEP standout is a longshot to make the Saints' final roster.

UNDERDOGS: Some undrafted players with a chance in the defensive backfield are Johnny Thomas (5-11, 205), a safety from Oklahoma State, who has had a good camp. Local product Jerico Nelson (5-10, 216, an Arkansas product, has also caught some looks at the safety spot this week.

Some other lesser known players to keep an eye on are receiver Chris Givens (6-2 203) from Miami (Ohio). He caught the ball well and made tough catches even though he was often covered well. He is a nice-sized receiver.

Givens earned notice from Vitt for his efforts. "This kid, Chris Givens, makes plays in the red zone everyday."

It is hard to tell much about lineman because the practices are not in pads and lack contact, but defensive end Braylon Broughton (6-6, 272) is an eye-catching undrafted rookie free agent out of TCU. He has a quick first step and even though he may not be an every down lineman yet, he has the look of a pure pass rusher.

Nick Toon is a big receiver (6-4, 218) who makes acrobatic catches and has a real chance to make a first-year statement as a rookie fourth rounder from Wisconsin. It is no surprise that he is living up to the hype as a polished receiver who can make a quick transition to the pro level.

"I think what we all know what we have in Nick Toon," said Vitt.

Speaking of the offense, Vitt said tight end David Thomas is the team's most versatile offensive player. Back to full health after injuries derailed his 2011 season, Thomas has proven he can catch, block and play special teams.

“Probably the most versatile offensive player that we have," Vitt said of Thomas. "He can play three positions, the wide, the F and the H. He understands pass protections. When Heath Evans went down in the Super Bowl year. He came right in to handle all of the protections. I’m not so sure that he is on the verge of brilliant when it comes to being a football player. He loves the game."

Concussions have threatened to cut short Thomas' career, so the real test for him comes when the full pads are on in training camp.

MAKING PLAYS: Receiver Lance Moore was catching everything insight again Thursday and made an acrobatic grab for a touchdown from Daniel, beating cornerback Patrick Robinson. Moore and Daniel had good chemistry this week.

Devery Henderson beat Patrick Robinson for a touchdown on a another well-thrown toss from Daniel.

Lofton broke up an accurate pass to tight end Jimmy Graham in the end zone from Daniel.

Graham did make a diving catch on the sideline beating cornerback Cord Parks, a first-year player who played college ball at Northeastern.

Quarterback Sean Canfield threw a 30-yard strike to receiver Chris Givens who beat safety Jonathon Amaya.

The aforementioned Givens also made a good catch beating corner Elbert Mack who was just added to the roster as afree agent who played for Tampa Bay last season.

As he has done in practices throughout his Saints' tenure, Daniel also showed his running ability, running up the middle for a touchdown from about 25 yards out.

INJURY UPATE: As expected, running backs Chris Ivory (hamstring) and Mark Ingram (knee surgery), linebacker Jon Vilma (knee) and offensive tackle Zach Streif (ankle) sat out the final workout.

UP NEXT: The Saints will hold their last round of Organized Team Activities (OTAs) on June 11-14 at their training facility.

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Jude Young contributed to this report.

 

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