Deke Bellavia: Hebert & Gajan size up Saints camp Day 7
by Deke Bellavia,posted Aug 1 2013 4:02PM
Today, I went one-on-one with our WWL resident pros Bobby Hebert & Hokie Gajan about STC Day 7, which was moved indoors and closed to the public.
The Cajun Cannon’s Take
Bobby Hebert on the Saints indoor practice: “When they go inside you do see a little pep in their step. Not having to deal with the heat always helps,” said the Cannon.
What was today’s focus? “They primarily worked on Red Zone Offense and Red Zone Defense,” observed Hebert. “They also worked on one-on-one drills and pass skeleton, which is a pass drill without the linemen involved.”
How was practice? “I thought it was a real competitive. The offense did not dominate and neither did the defense. It was an evenly competitive practice on both sides of the football,” concluded the Cajun Cannon.
What was the highlight? “Probably the catch of the day came from tight end Michael Higgins,” said Hebert. “QB Luke McCown hit Higgins down the middle for a nice gain. I don’t know if Higgins would have scored, but he got deep inside the 25 yard line.”
Other notes from QB #3: Bobby said Darren Sproles is almost impossible to stop, when he’s coming out of the backfield as a receiver. “When the Saints offense checks down to Sproles, it’s a tough match-up for anyone to try and guard Sproles. With his quickness a simple screen route or flat route can turn into a big gain,” said an enthusiastic Hebert.
Bobby’s Questions to Coach Payton: Bobby asked Saints Head Coach Sean Payton his thoughts about rule changes this season. Payton’s reply, “Every year we have the officials come in and we spend three days with them. I don’t know if there is anything drastically different. I know a lot of attention has been brought to the running backs. It’s really a unique play where the running back is head on with a defender. It does not come up that often, but we will make sure and cover it.” Coach Payton went on to say officials at Saints camp will be in the afternoon meetings with Saints players, when they review practice tape…the refs will answer any questions players may have. The officials will also be at practice Friday and at the Saints Black & Gold scrimmage Saturday morning.
Bobby’s question to Saints TE Jimmy Graham: Bobby asked Jimmy if he thought a new deal would get done before the start of the 2013 season. “I haven’t really thought about it,” said the fan favorite. “I’m day seven into camp and I’m just trying to stay alive here. But for me contract wise…I haven’t really paid any attention to it. I’m just trying to be focused on being ready for the first game against Atlanta. I’m making sure I’m taking care of my body and that I’m ready to go,” said Graham.
This morning our WWL Saints Radio color analyst Hokie Gajan attended the NFL officials meeting. The purpose? To get everybody on the same page about any new rule changes. So, what did our resident pro learn? “They went into detail about some modifications to the current NFL ‘tuck rule,’ and they really explained the new rule about the running back,” said the former Saints running back. “The officials will be looking for three things when running backs collide with defenders. Basically they are looking for if the RB has lined up the defender; if the RB leads with the crown of the helmet and if the RB delivers a blow,” explained Gajan. Hokie said officials will also blow the whistle after every play. Say what? “I thought they blew the whistle after every play too,” Hokie said with surprise. “But the officials said sometimes…once the action has stopped on the field…the whistle is not blown all the time. Now we will hear a whistle after every NFL play. ”
Other notes from the meeting with officials: Gajan says officials will look to police more taunting in the NFL this season. And, his quote of the day comes from Walt Coleman, an NFL official since 1989, “None of us is perfect. There was only one person that was. But he never had to officiate an NFL game.”
Another interesting note from NFL officials: Hokie says officials will now consider an NFL center as a defenseless player. But, once the center lifts his head and begins to block he is no longer considered defenseless. Great notes from the Hoke-ster!
The Big Chief’s observations
Today we spoke with Big John Jenkins. John is a guy Saints fans will love, if he plays like he did in college. Once a junior college All-American for the Gulf Coast Bulldogs, Jenkins then played two seasons in another Bulldogs uniform with UGA.
“We had two good seasons there,” said Jenkins. Georgia was coming off a 6-7 season, when me and Jarvis Jones got together with Coach Richt and the rest of the defense and then we won 22 games in two years.” Jenkins wore jersey #6 in college and he told me he would definitely wear #6 in the NFL, if league rules permitted linemen to do so.
“You know there are not many big people that look good in a single digit jersey. But I did,” smiled Jenkins. Go head on Big Bad John! Be sure to listen to our conversation with Big John Jenkins today on SportsTalk live from Saints Training Camp 4 to 8pm.
Sideline note: Ladies First! Sarah Thomas was at practice this morning. The Mississippi native is once again on track to make history. Thomas went to Pascagoula High School where she was a solid softball player. And, now Sarah Thomas is scheduled to possibly be the first woman to officiate an NFL game.
Thomas was the first woman to officiate a bowl game. She worked as a line judge during the 2009 Little Caesars Pizza Bowl between Marshall Thundering Herd and Ohio Bobcats. Then, in 2011 Thomas was the first female to officiate a college football game in a Big Ten stadium. Thomas also was an official, when the Northwestern Wildcats hosted Rice in November 2011.