A big turnout of media attended the third New Orleans Saints OTA practice. The event provided an opportunity to take a good look at the new draft picks, free agents and returning veterans.
The Saints cut defensive end Greg Romeus, who has had several serious knee problems. Teh former seventh round pick out of Pitt was not a good fit for the new 3-4 scheme in New Orleans.
Meanwhile, the rest of the healthy roster went to work.
The first play was interesting, Drew Brees threw for Joe Morgan but the ball went through the second-year wideout's hands and was picked off by new cornerback Keenan Lewis.
Brees targeted tight end Jimmy Graham frequently throughout the practice. Graham has been undergoing therapy on a surgically repaired wrist. He dropped too many passes last season and the wrist seemed to bother him. Today, he looked very smooth catching the football.
The new quarterbacks looked solid. Luke McCown, a veteran who has been here in the past, knows the system as does rookie Ryan Griffin. The Tulane product threw the ball well.
Griffin was part of the play of the day, a pass down the sideline to wide receiver Jarred Fayson for about a 70 yard touchdown. The toss by Griffin was on the money whille the speedy former Florida and Illinios wideout Fayson broke behind the secondary and didn't have the break stride.
The most impressive quarterback throwing the ball other than Brees however was 32-year old veteran Seneca Wallace, who was throwing the ball with very good accuracy. He completed a lot of balls over the middle and down the seam and also showed very good quickness and movement.
New defensive coordinator Rob Ryan is aggressive. His style of defense from a tactical standpoint is reminicent of the approach of former coach Greg Williams. The players seem to be responding well to his attacking scheme.
"I got lucky. I was fortunate to come out here and be a part of a great program," Ryan said. "I haven't felt this way since I was in New England with Bill Bellichek. I feel a sense of urgency and that everybody is on the same path."
Kicker Garrett Hartley had some competition from Mexico international rookie kicker Jose Maltos, who hit the ball very well on field goals.
There were no serious injuries, but head coach Sean Payton said linebacker Jon Vilma, linebacker David Hawthorne, and defensive lineman Kenyon Coleman did not practice. None of the group has injuries.
However, left tackle Charles Brown was held out due to a minor injury in the weight room, and safety Malcolm Jenkins has a slight hamstring problem. Payton said Brown will be fine, but in his absence Jason Smith. a free agent. and Terron Armstead, the athletic third round draft pick from Arkansas Pine Bluff, gained the needed extra reps at a position up for grabs.
Payton said the coaching staff is moving players around a lot. "There are few guys who are playing a couple of different spots," Payton explained. "When you get into training camp, you start sorting everything out."
Don't read anything into where players are lining up since it is still just May.
Notable plays in the practice:
Brees hit wide receiver Marcus Colston for 20 yards as both seemed to be in good form early.
Tight end Jimmy Graham beat safety Abdul Quddus down the sideline for 30 yards.
Running back Tarvaris Cadet looked quick and made sharp cuts. He put a move on a linebacker for a 10 yard gain on one play.
McCown hit running back Darren Sproles in the flat, and the still cat-quick veteran gained 12 yards before anyone could lay a hand on him.
Wallace's impressive throws over the middle included tossed Graham and rookie wide receiver Kenny Stills. McCown also found Stills for a 20 yard gain.
Wallace threw a laser down the seam 30 yards to tight end Josh Hill.
New Orleans Saints Quarterback Drew Brees
Thursday, May 23, 2013
What is it like working with and playing against a Rob Ryan defense in practice?
“He’s fun to be around. You can tell he loves football and loves coaching. He’s got a good scheme. The defensive guys are really taking to him. Guys are flying around. It looks like they’re having fun with this scheme. Obviously, we are very much in a learning phase right now. The defense is trying to learn the new scheme. Offensively, we have some new wrinkles that we’re working on. It’s just fun to be back on the field practicing again.”
Do you think he is looking forward to camp and competing against you guys?
“Absolutely, that’s how you get better. That’s how you gain that edge. We’ve always taken pride in competing against each other, both offensively and defensively. We have a lot of great leaders and a lot of prideful guys on defense where we go at it every day in practice. In the end if you know, I know for us, we feel like by the time the season rolls around, we’ve had just about everything we could have had thrown at us by that Rob Ryan defense and our guys that when we go into the season, we’re prepared for anything.”
What has it been like the past few days having Sean Payton back on the practice field?
“It’s been great. It’s been a while.”
How is he different?
“Well, he’s dropped about 18 pounds. He’s at his fighting weight. I’d say, just like in the offseason, especially coming off a year like we had last year, there are things that you do so that everybody knows that this is going to be a different year. It’s going to be a better year. So just some little things as the offseason (we have) gone along (with), whether it be just modifications in the workouts that we’re doing or some of the sayings that are on the walls around here, or pictures. Little things, the schedule...”
Is he more passionate?
“He’s always been passionate about what he is doing. You can feel the excitement level for him to be back in the mix. This is what we do. It’s football. We love it.”
How is it for you to be back here at this time because you did not participate in these activities last season?
“If you think about, this is the first normal offseason we’ve had since 2009. 2010 was coming off the Super Bowl, that wasn’t normal. 2011 was coming off the lockout, that wasn’t normal. Last year, all the bounty stuff and my contract, that wasn’t normal. This has been great. This has been great, just getting in this locker room back in mid-April and just focusing on getting better, (working hard in) the weight room and being around the guys, just getting back to football. It’s what we do.”
Did you forget what normal was like?
“Yes, for a while, we did. Literally, it’s been four years since we had a normal offseason. We’ve been looking forward to this for a while. There is just something about getting in the locker room with the team and just watching it all come together. We’re all excited about the draft, some of these young players, and free agency. We got the new defensive scheme and, like I said, we’re working on new wrinkles. This is the time of year where you watch it all come together.”
How do you work with a much younger group of wide receivers now?
“It definitely takes time (with) a lot of those young guys. It’s funny, you teach the offense a certain way, you teach routes a certain way, and yet if you were to watch me, Marques (Colston) and Lance (Moore) out there, it’s not always the way that it’s written on paper. So a lot of the young guys will be like ‘well, I thought…” but these guys (Brees, Colston and Moore) have been together for eight years. There is this trust, there is this ESP, they see the same things and they know the adjustments off of that. It takes time. It takes a lot of time on task. This wide receiver group is young and talented. I feel like a lot of them could be big contributors on our offense so I’m excited to work with them and excited with what I’ve seen this week from them thus far. We’ll see how it all shakes out. We have a couple of those spots that are up for competition.”
Talk about playing with somebody new at left tackle, either Jason Smith or Charles Brown.
“That (Smith) was a big free agent pickup for us. Obviously Charlie Brown has been here for a few years and stepped in and done a great job when needed. Jason Smith and (Terron) Armstead, the rookie, (are competing) and we have a lot of guys that could jump in and compete for that job. Where we all get better is when you have guys fighting for that position. As much as you hope that you can go through an entire season with all five guys up front healthy, last year we had the situation at right tackle where we had four guys playing at times. You just have to be able to plug in with guys that know what to do and (where) there is a confidence level and you just continued to operate. The train moves forward. We’ll see how that position solidifies but I think we’ve got some really good candidates there.”
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