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Offense, defense have key moments in Saints scrimmage


METAIRIE -- There were no losers in the annual New Orleans Saints scrimmage Saturday morning before a packed house on Airline Drive.

The offense had its shining moments, most notably a 13-play scoring drive led by Drew Brees on the opening possession of the 63-play scrimmage.

The defense turned in big plays as well -- two interceptions, a fumble recovery and five sacks.

"Overall, I thought the tempo was good," Saints coach Sean Payton said. "I thought the defense made some good plays. There were a few pre-snap penalties we've got to get cleaned up. We got enough snaps. It started getting warm, but I thought they battled the heat pretty well."

Brees finished 8-of-11 for 65 yards, including five straight completions on the opening drive, which came against the No. 2 defense. Mark Ingram capped the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run.

"I thought it was a good mix of run and pass," said Brees. "It put us in a couple of different situations - third and long, third and medium, third and short."

The No. 1 offense was held out of the end zone in an eight-play series against the starting defense. Junior Galette had a sack of Brees on third down and Rafael Bush broke up a third-down pass in the end zone intended for Lance Moore.

"We came back the second drive," Brees said, "and had the one penalty (a false start on tackle Charles Brown), kind of an unforced error.

"I think overall, it was good work for everybody - ones, twos and threes."

Luke McCown, working with the No. 2 unit, was also 8-of-11 for 56 yards and an interception. Rookie undrafted free agent Ryan Griffin of Tulane worked with the third team and went 5-for-10 for 20 yards, an interception and a touchdown.

Griffin's TD pass came on the final play of the scrimmage - a 5-yard pass to fullback Austin Johnson in which Griffin rolled right and improvised, waving Johnson from out of the flat and into the end zone. Johnson outjumped rookie linebacker Chase Thomas for the football.

Fifteen different receivers caught passes from the three quarterbacks, with no receiver catching more than two passes. Chris Givens had the day's longest catch, a 39-yard reception from McCown with the second unit offense as he beat a busted coverage from the starters.

Khory Robinson, a rookie free agent from West Texas A&M, led all rushers with 52 yards on 11 carries, including a 19-yard run.

Pierre Thomas had three rushes for 25 yards, while Mark Ingram carried five times for 18 yards and the only rushing TD of the day.

Defensively, Galette and Akiem Hicks each had two sacks, while defensive end Jay Richardson had one.

"I felt like today was a big step," Galette said. "I think we got a few stops against the best quarterback in the league. As a defense, we're not close (to reaching our potential)."

Veteran free agent signee Chris Carr had a big day in the secondary, intercepting Griffin and deflecting a pass from McCown in the air that was intercepted by linebacker David Hawthorne.

In addition to his pass breakup in the end zone, Bush also had a fumble recovery after outside linebacker Eric Martin stripped Ingram.

The Saints are off Sunday - their first off-day of training camp - and will not return to the practice field until Monday afternoon, a workout that is closed to the public.

Payton was headed to Canton, Ohio, right after the scrimmage to see the induction of his former boss, Bill Parcells, into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.


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