What a difference a day can make. After having Sunday off and then practicing late in the day Monday indoors, the New Orleans Saints players had their legs back leading to a spirited session.
The players also dressed in half-pads, shoulder pads and shorts.
Even though they were in "shells," the practice was still physical. The running game, especially the corner game off-tackle, received a lot of emphasis. Pads were popping as the offensive line came off the ball well while the defensive front stood their ground.
It is important during team drills that the players work together to keep piles of players off the ground. That is what practicing like a professional is all about. Be physical, stress your opponent and get to the ball. Injuries increase when players go to the ground. Get your work done while decreasing the chance of injury.
One of the goals of offseason Organized Team Activities (OTAs) is learning how to practice. It is a skill that must be taught and learned. On this day, even with players competing for roster spots, the Saints did a great job of this.
Defensive emphasis continues on being aggressive, getting to the ball and forcing turnovers. Finishing the play is continually stressed and reinforced. It is not just talk but action that the defensive staff is trying to make habitual. It is a credit to them that a practice can be physical without wearing pants.
Mark Ingram looked especially quick in team periods. Last year, he had a problem running into the back of his offensive linemen, seldom making clean cuts. His physical condition may have had something to do with that.
Your feet and your eyes have to be in sync. If your eyes and brain tell you to make a move, but your body cannot accomplish the cut, then you can run into your own blockers. Being healthy allows Ingram to make sharp cuts to daylight.
Or perhaps the former Heisman Trophy winner just got his eyes fixed.
Drew Brees showed some arm strength as well. A couple of throws were well down the field, 40 yards or more. When Brees can get his feet and legs under him, he can still launch it. He struggles when he cannot step into his deep throw. Peyton Manning is experiencing the same thing in Denver.
I have been playing close attention to the Brees deep ball during the course of training camp. It will be important that the Saints keep the safeties from squeezing the inside seams where Jimmy Graham and Marques Colston dominate. If Brees can get the ball down the field (25 yards plus), especially outside the numbers, the safeties will have to play deeper and wider.
Add that to a consistent running game, the Black and Gold become virtually unstoppable. If the safeties can stay on the hashes, the Saints struggle.
Practice Tuesday at 8:50 is like many during camp - outdoors and open to the public. Drink plenty of liquids and bring the sunscreen when you take advantage of the chance to watch camp in person.
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