Deke Bellavia: Hebert & Gajan size up Saints camp Day 6
by Deke Bellavia,posted Jul 31 2013 2:35PM
Once again, I went one-on-one with our WWL resident pros Bobby Hebert & Hokie Gajan about STC Day 6: From the mouth of our QB #3:
Hebert on the Saints offense: “I thought this was QB Ryan Griffin’s best practice in a Saints uniform,” said the Cajun Cannon. “Back-up QB Seneca Wallace was out, so Griffin took advantage of the opportunity. Ryan Griffin made a number of plays. He looks real poised out there.”
Bobby Hebert said the Saints indoor practice tomorrow is something he’s sure players are looking forward to. “It was not as hot out there today, but it’s still outside. When practice takes place indoors it makes your body feel and perform better,” said our QB#3.
Bobby thought running back Pierre Thomas had the catch of camp so far. “Drew kind of under threw Pierre and he made an adjustment and came up with a one handed grab. I don’t know how he caught it, but he did,” said an enthusiastic Hebert.
Bobby on the Saints defense: Coach Rob Ryan was more vocal at practice this morning during drills. The defensive backs were going through a drill and Coach Rob Ryan was after his guys. “Coach Ryan was trying to get the best out of his players,” said Hebert. “The focus was on taking the ball away. Safety #41 Roman Harper had a shot at an interception, but dropped the ball…leading Coach Ryan to say ‘you’ve got to be kidding me’.”
Bobby’s question to Coach Payton: “Coach what is your take on the spread option?” The Saints head coach’s reply, “It’s here, especially in the NFC when you look at Carolina, San Francisco and Washington. During this past off season, even when we went through the coordinator search, we spent time with a handful of coaches on getting their thoughts and what they’re doing to defense against it (spread option). One of the key things that we do in our league each year is that there is some type of action and then a reaction in getting familiar with an offense or a defense. But I think that’s (spread option) one element that everyone is studying a little bit closer.”
Hokie’s Call - Hokie Gajan said after a lackluster start to this morning’s practice things heated up. “The nickel package with the four safeties showed some blitzes out there, said WWL’s Saints color analyst. “They were trying to get some pressure on the QB. I think that put some confusion in the mind of the quarterbacks this morning,” concluded Gajan.
Hokie said the confusion the defense is trying to create for the offense can also be confusing to the defense at times. “A couple of busted coverages out there showed that ole analogy that you live by the blitz and die by the blitz,” said Hokie. “It can be confusing on both sides of the ball. The offense burnt the defense a few times.”
Hokie’s been watching wide receiver Saalim Hakim….and after a hot start to training camp, #18 is coming off a few not so glamorous days of work. “He’s coming back to the pack so to speak. He’s cramped up at practice and he had a couple of drops. Peaks and valleys usually happen with younger players. We will see how he responds,” said the former Saints scout.
Hokie Gajan also likes the progress the Saints offense is making rushing the football. “One side does not want to be shown up by the other. I like the way the O-line is doing during run drills and I like the way we are running the ball. I think the offense is making strides,” said a not-so-easily impressed Gajan.
“The Big Chief” Deke Bellavia’s final word: Well, our daily conversation today was with wide receier Nick Toon. Toon certainly looks the part…a tall, slender player with enough bulk to get out of a jam on the line of scrimmage.
“I’m healthy,” Toon told the Cajun Cannon and me. “I’m more comfortable out there in the offense and I really feel confident right now.” Toon is entering his second season in the NFL. But, after an injury that sidelined him for most of the 2012 season, it’s almost as if the youngster from Wisconsin is a rookie again.
“Yes, it’s kind of like I had a redshirt season a year ago,” agreed Toon. “I was able to watch the game from a different angle. It was hard not to be out there with my teammates, but I do feel like I was able to learn a lot about the game even though I was not playing.” Check out our entire conversation with Saints WR Nick Toon on Sports Talk today 4 to 8pm on WWL (870am; 105.3fm; WWL.com, or of course, on your smart phone.
Who’s that? Okay, the Who Dat Nation is as educated about their team as any fan base on the globe. But, even the most diehard Saints fan might not know of the following players. A couple of guys who stood out at times during training camp have been #98 offensive linebacker Baraka Atkins and defensive ends #97 Jay Richardson and #74 Glenn Foster.
All three of these defenders are trying to make a name for themselves in hopes of landing a spot on the Saints roster. Atkins has been all over the field; he looks like a speedy ball hawking defender. Atkins played football at the University of Miami and he spent time on the active roster with the Seahawks and 49ers, before being on the practice squad with the Steelers and Cowboys. Keep an eye on Atkins; he could see a lot of playing time early on this preseason.
Jay Richardson has been in the league five seasons, after a nice career at Ohio State. Richardson has been impressive--beating the man in front of him in one-on-one drills more times than not. Richardson spent time with the Raiders and Seahawks active roster.
And Glenn Foster is another player to keep an eye on. Now I know it might be with the second and third team units, but when Foster is on the field, he’s making plays. The 6-4 285 pound defensive end from Illinois made plays in the backfield on running backs and he has a good first step when pass rushing.
Now I’m not saying that these guys are bound for the active roster. But, I think they may hang around a while during training camp.