Noteworthy: This is the final preseason game for both the Dolphins and the Saints. The Saints can finish the preseason with a 4-0 mark for the first time in franchise history. New Orleans was also 3-0 back in 2009 but finished preseason with a 3-1 mark.
The Dolphins are 1-3 this preseason as they have already played four preseason games. The Saints and Dolphins have played each other 20 times in the preseason with Miami leading the series 13-7. The Saints and Dolphins will see each other in the regular season as the two meet in the Superdome on Monday Night Football on September 30.
What to look for
The Cajun Cannon Bobby Hebert does think that there are a handful of spots left on the Saints roster. “I think we are all interested to see which wide receivers make the team. We know that Colston and Moore are locks, and I think Nick Toon and Kenny Stills are on the roster already too,” Hebert said.
Of the remaining players looking to make the Saints at the WR position, Courtney Roby, Preston Parker and Andy Tanner are all in the mix. Last week Tanner hauled in two TD receptions in the Saints 31-23 win over Houston.
The shake out at WR could come down to which player or players can stand out on special teams. “Courtney Roby is a proven player on special teams, and Parker and Tanner can also help in that area as well,” Bobby told me. “It’s going to be some hard decisions that have to be made.”
Coach Sean Payton has already indicated that his starting players will not see much action, if any at all. The progression of rookie QB Ryan Griffin should continue as the former Tulane QB should get plenty of snaps after QB Luke McCown gets in the work that Sean Payton deems necessary.
Also the rotation on the Saints DL has been one that has produced some lesser known names that have become guys who the fan base look for. DL Tyrunn Walker, Glenn Foster and Tom Johnson have all had their moments this preseason and during training camp.
Additionally, the continuing process of adding depth at LB is something to look for. If we go by the players that started against Houston, the starting LB's will be Curtis Lofton, Ramon Humber and David Hawthorne will be three of the four starters. But with the team losing Will Smith for the season, the Saints might give some snaps to who will be helping fill Smith's void.
The new-look Saints defense has made a lot of strides since the end of July and now with veteran players like Will Smith not playing and the status of LB Jonathan Vilma up in the air, there will be a lot of new faces in the Saints line-up in 2013.
The bottom line here is to get out of the game fast and healthy. I mean, there is no secret that the final preseason game is the most meaningless game in the NFL each season. Sure there are players that can make that one final push to make the roster, but no star players generally play and the game is one that coaches want to look back on and know that none of their prime time players got hurt.
After the game tonight, be sure and tune in to the Point After as Bobby Hebert will predict which players he thinks will make the Saints 53 man roster this season.
We are a little over 48 hours away from the Tigers and the Horned Frogs hooking up in Big D in one of the biggest games that kickoff the first weekend in college football. Today’s features bring you the comments from some of the LSU players..
Anthony “Freak” Johnson talks about how the Tigers will have their hands full against a very good and veteran laden Horned Frogs offense.
“One thing about (QB Casey) Boykin I see…when you look at us two years ago with Jordan Jefferson and the read scheme, that’s one of the things (Boykin) likes to do a lot…I’ve watched #4 (QB Casey Pachall) prior to him being suspended, and he’s a better pocket passer, but honestly, Boykin is a great manager of the game, and he can run the football very well.
Johnson, the former O.P. Walker Chargers star, is set to have a breakout season after being claimed as the nation’s best defensive player in high school four years ago.
Johnson also talked about how hyped up he and his Tigers Teammates are to play in what he calls “Jerry’s World” which is the new Dallas Cowboys Stadium.
“It’s such a great venue. These young guys on this team, and these veterans, we’ve worked hard the whole off-season, and this summer, and in the weight room, and off the field, to better ourselves…And I think we’re ready to play football.”
And DB Jalen Mills chimed in on the Tigers match-up as well.
“We never will back down from a team,” Mills said. “We always look to play a team at a very high level, that’s how we practice…So that’s how we’re going to play. Rankings really don’t really matter to us, just worry about the end of the season.”
Mills also talked about preparing for TCU’s offense.
“TCU is a heavy pass team, and they also have QB, who is an option-read quarterback, a dual-threat quarterback…So, we’ll probably have to watch out for him, but that will probably be in our game plan. Just covering down the field a lot. “
LSU WR and former Lutcher standout Jarvis Landry also talked playing in “Jerry’s World.”
“It’s a beautiful place and a beautiful venue, and against a great team in TCU. (There’s) no stage bigger,” he said.
The Tigers now have just a couple of days before they fly to Dallas to take on 20th ranked TCU in the season opener for both teams.
LSU Coach Les Miles talked this week about the dual challenges of the TCU defense while also having many first-time starters on his defense.
“It’s a very quality scheme,” Miles said of the Horned Frogs D. “Bill Clay, a hundred years ago at Oklahoma State when I was the head coach there, employed that, and we had great success with it. We recognized the strengths and their ability to make adjustments.
LSU lost eight quality starters from last season’s defensive unit and this season a lot of new faces will hit the field for the first time as full time starters. Coach Miles says he likes the versatility of his defensive linemen.
“(DE) Jermauria Rasco, and (DE Danielle) Hunter, and (DE) Jordan Allen, those guys are really, really just interchangeable. They all three…are very talented, and all three are going to see time on Saturday,” Miles said.
Also, Coach Miles talked about one of the more interesting things that Tigers Fans are looking forward to this season. A new-look offense! New LSU Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron will try and help the Tigers offense become more consistent and less one dimensional this season.
Miles says he likes the relationship that his new OC and QB Zach Mettenberger are forming, and he thinks that both are working hard daily to help the Tigers offense improve.
“Zach expects more out of himself in his final campaign and…is really accepting of coaching. And I think Cam is a very demanding coach, and one that is knowledgeable and that helps a guy that wants to compete at a very high level, or execute at a very high level, he helps them do that. So it’s really a great time in Mettenberger’s career that Cam Cameron is on board.
If LSU is to be an improved passing team in 2013, it will call for a breakout season from wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., a sure-handed receiver and solid contributor in special teams last year.
“I think he’ll have a great year, I think he’ll look forward to making bigger plays. He’s a guy that returned two punts for touchdowns a year ago. I think he’s a guy who had a very good year a year ago, but really could ask more of him, and that he would ask more of himself. I think this is that kind of year. I think he’s going to the field with the want to play big, and play big in every game.”
As LSU Coach Les Miles put it yesterday at his first Lunch with Les yesterday, its “game week.” 12th ranked LSU will battle 20th ranked TCU this Saturday in Big D. The excitement level is climbing even higher as we inch closer to Saturday’s kickoff between the Tigers and Horned Frogs.
Coach Miles talked about how his veteran Defensive Coordinator John “Chief” Chavis has groomed up a young Tigers offense.
“As a veteran, and dealing with young guys, is really called upon to be his best in this two-a-day camp,” Miles said. “He was. It looks like the kind of defense we’re used to having here at LSU, I can’t imagine it playing any differently.”
Miles also talked about the type of training camp his new Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron has had as well.
“I can tell you that our team with Cam on offense are excited and are looking forward to performing at a very high level.”
The Coach also spoke of how his team enjoys preparing for big games like this week’s match-up with TCU and Miles broke down what type of team his Tigers are facing in their season opener this Saturday in Dallas.
“It’s great to start a new season, there’s great enthusiasm around our building, finally in game week. Now, we’re confronted with a very significant challenge in TCU, a team that our team recognized as a great challenge and voted to take,” Miles said.
“(Coach) Gary Patterson does a great job on defense, offense, and special teams…Well prepared, a very talented team. They have two very, very quality quarterbacks, (and) they return a bunch of starters from a successful team a year ago.”
One point of interest at the first installment of Lunch with Les was the way Coach Miles handled the questions about the current status of LSU RB Jeremy Hill. Like he has done since he arrived at LSU, Miles simply kept family business within his Tigers Family.
“I would not be surprised that he (Hill) makes the trip. Again, the discipline will be internal, it will be something that we will deal with as a team.”
Be sure and listen to our special features covering the big game between the Tigers and Horned Frogs each day right here on the home of the Tigers, WWL Radio and WWL.com
Well Tiger fans, we are just days away from the open of the 2013 season! Each day this week, I’ll give you a little preview of what to expect in this Saturday’s matchup between LSU and the Horned Frogs of TCU.
With just three returning starters on defense some feel that LSU's Defense may struggle some this season. However, Tigers Defensive Coordinator John Chavis is confident his group will be just fine.
“It’s natural for some people to think they’re going to be down a little bit,” Chavis said. “But we don’t think that way, we’re going to work to be the very best we can be. And certainly, if we reach that level of the potential that we have in terms of the quality of the players, we’re going to be fine.”
LSU linebacker Lamin Barrow says fans will soon find out that there is much more to the LSU defensive line than Anthony “the Freak” Johnson.
“You hear a lot about Anthony Johnson,” Barrow said, “and like I said, ‘Freak’ is my little brother. So, you know, he’s proven, he’s going to do what he’s going to do, and he’s going to have a hell of a season. But I think (other) guys that are going to surprise guys on the D-line.”
Meanwhile on the other side of the ball, with the addition of Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron, some think that the LSU offense is poised for a breakout season. Offensive lineman La'El Collins says all the Tigers need is a little experience for the youngsters on the squad.
“We have the confidence, we have the potential, we have everything that we need,” he said. “All we need is the game experience for the younger guys. And that’s not going to be hard at all because we go up against the best defensive linemen in the country every day.”
Last season, LSU’s offense was inconsistent, to say the least. This year, starting QB Zach Mettenberger says all right components are in place for the Tigers to be successful.
“We got the key ingredients to have a great offense this year,” Mettenberger said. "We’ve definitely been working hard and studying to prepare for the first game against TCU.”
Mettenberger said there are a lot of reasons for excitement about the Tigers offense, including a veteran offensive line, skilled receivers, and the addition of a potent new offensive coordinator.
New Orleans Saints (2-0) @ Houston Texans (2-0)
Sunday August 24 3PM Kickoff Reliant Stadium
3 things the Cajun Cannon is looking for:
Can the Saints run the ball more effectively?
”We have run the ball with a good number of attempts, but we need to average more yards per carry. The Texans have a good defense, and if we can rush the ball against them... to me that would be a good sign.”
A real test for the Saints Defense
”Houston has consistently had one of the best offenses in the NFL the last several seasons. Our (Saints) defense has done a pretty good job overall the first two preseason games. If the defense can do what it did against KC and Oakland in this game against Houston,that would be impressive.”
To be sacked or not to be sacked!
”The Saints had 12 sacks total last preseason in five games. Right now we have 11 sacks in two games. Houston does a very good job of protecting QB Matt Schaub. If we put pressure on him, then I know we are moving in the right direction. On the flip side, Houston has a very good defense and one of the best players in the league in pass rusher JJ Watt. This week's game against the Texans defense is by far the greatest challenge for our offensive line.”
What they are saying about this week's game
Saints Coach Sean Payton on the Houston Texans:
”Gary (Kubiak) and his staff have done a great job. The Texans have become a complete team that plays complementary football on offense, defense and special teams. We have come to know them over the years playing them in the preseason.”
Saints WR #88 Nick Toon on his approach to the Saints vs Texans Game:
”Any time you get the opportunity to line up against a great opponent, it's a great opportunity to go out there and compete. For myself personally, the more snaps I take, the more comfortable I get. I am just trying to learn and continue to get better every day, every game, every snap, every practice; and just try and learn and take something from each and every opportunity I get.”
The Big Chief's thoughts:
The Saints defense through the first two preseason games has been a pleasant surprise. Now many folks feel like the matchup with the high powered veteran laden Texans offense will serve as a much better gauge of how much improved the Black and Gold defense is.
The beauty about numbers is that they are what they are. Now you can break numbers down by first half yards allowed to second half yards allowed, first team defense, second team defense, etc. All I will do here is give you the numbers the Saints defense has allowed through two preseason games.
The Saints have beaten Kansas City 17-13 and Oakland 28-20 in the preseason. Kansas City's offense scored all of their points, whereas the Raiders scored a defensive touchdown in their loss to New Orleans. So, subtract that defensive score and the Saints defense is allowing 13 points per game.
Kansas City gained 215 yards and Oakland had 185, for 400 yards total allowed in two games for an average of 200 yards per game. The Saints have been excellent on third downs. In two games, opposing teams have converted just eight of 29 on third downs. That's an average of 28%.
The Saints defense has faced 24 offensive possessions in two games. The defense has forced 13 punts, created two turnovers, two turnover on downs, allowed two touchdowns and four field goals. The Saints defense has picked up 11 sacks and posted 15 tackles for a loss in their first two preseason games.
Last preseason the Saints had just 12 sacks in five preseason games. Regardless of what happens against the Texans, by the looks of what we have seen in the first two games, the Saints defense is obviously more aggressive. The Saints will not sit back and let teams come after them without returning the favor.
Last week's preseason results:
New Orleans beat Oakland 28-20 and Houston beat Miami 24-17
The Saints and Texans will meet for the seventh time in preseason play Sunday. The six game preseason series is knotted up at 3-3. Both teams are 2-0 in preseason play. Both teams close out preseason play Thursday night as Houston plays at Dallas and New Orleans plays at Miami.
The Houston Texans are 2-0 in the preseason after wins over Minnesota 27-13 and Miami 27-14. The Texans offense is 2nd in the league right now averaging 427 yards per game. The Texans defense is fourth in the NFL preseason.
4 hours and 48 minutes. That's a short time, and a very long time, to say good-bye to the grandfather of my children.
Hundreds and hundreds, maybe a thousand people, who came to pay respects and say one final goodbye to a very good man.
If you are in SEC country and have ever eaten a bell pepper or strawberry, you have probably eaten one of the ones he grew.
Mr. Jack was one of the largest produce growers for many years. You may have noticed his picture in all the Rouses grocery stores.
Sherrif Daniel Edwards, as well as State Rep. John Edwards, who could be our next Governor, spoke at the funeral of how Mr. Jack affected their lives.
I've never seen or been around anyone like him. He could come up with anything and everything, and he was a giving man that never ever said no.
He always came through. He was a family-first individual that had tremendous balance...balance of being a protector, a provider, a father, and a one-of-a-kind husband. More people, starting with myself, could only hope to be half the man Mr. Jack was.
He was Jack Nicholas Liuzza, and he passed away Monday, August 19, 2013.
Friday August 16 7PM Kickoff WWL 870AM/FM 105.3 online at wwl.com
Last week’s results: New Orleans beat Kansas City 17-13 and Oakland beat Dallas 19-17
Up next: The Saints travel to face the Houston Texans Sunday August 24 while the Raiders return home to Oakland to take on the Chicago Bears next Saturday night.
Series History: The Saints have met the Raiders five times in preseason play with New Orleans holding a 3-2 edge. The teams have also met 12 times in the regular season with the Saints leading the series 6-5-1.
Super Bowl Broadcast Crew: Former Raiders Coach Tom Flores and former Raiders QB Jim Plunkett serve as color analyst for the Raiders Radio Network. Flores was coach and Plunkett was QB when Oakland came to the Superdome to face the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl XV.
The underdog Raiders handled the Eagles 27-10 behind Plunkett’s three touchdown passes. Plunkett was named the MVP of Super Bowl XV as the Raiders won their second Super Bowl.
In the Raiders first preseason game, Oakland ran 62 offensive plays for 325 yards. Oakland had 209 yards passing and 116 yard rushing in their 19-17 win over Dallas. Eddy Carmona made a 23 yard field goal with 8:11 left in the game to give Oakland the two point advantage.
Raiders QB Matt Flynn completed 4-of-5 passes for 37 yards with a QB rating of 97.5. Back-up QB Terrelle Pryor was 6-of-10 for 88 yards with one interception with a QB rating of 49.2. Pryor also rushed for 31 yards averaging 10.3 yards per attempt on three carries.
Oakland QB Matt McGloin had the best night of the Raiders QB’s as he was 4-of-7 for 78 yards with a TD and finished with a rating of 135.7. The Raiders Defense limited the Cowboys to 291 yards of total offense in the win over Dallas.
From the Saints point of view
1st Team Defense needs to get off to a better start: Sure we want to see the Saints 1st team defense perform better against the Raiders 1st team offense compared to the way the Black and Gold did against KC. New Orleans allowed 14 plays 80 yards and a TD to the first team Chiefs Offense. However the Saints Defense played well overall.
In their last 11 offensive possessions the Chiefs ran 44 plays for a total of just 135 yards with six points scored.
1st team offense looking to score a TD: Speaking of first team units, the Saints 1st team offense has yet to score a TD. The Saints have not scored in either the Black and Gold Scrimmage and the Saints first team offense failed to score a TD against the Chiefs.
Nothing special about those special teams: Of the three phases of the game, offense, defense and special teams, the Saints by far looked bad covering kicks last week against the Chiefs. New Orleans needs to show some improvement this week.
KC had three kick returns for 136 yards to go along with six punt returns for 106 yards. The Chiefs totaled 242 yards in returns for an average of 27 yards per return. The Saints will be tested this week.
Oakland did well returning kicks in their win over Dallas. The Raiders had a total of five returns on kicks and punts combined for 118 yards. That’s an average of 23.6 yards per return.
What they are saying about the game
Saints QB #9 Drew Brees on if he is frustrated that the Saints Offense did not score a TD against the Chiefs. And the Saints did not score a TD against the Black and Gold 1st team defense in the scrimmage.
“No, if you are just talking about in the scrimmage, we had one opportunity. In the game, we had the two drives. There is a lot that encompasses a practice, you have third down offense, you have red zone, and you have move the ball. You have different situations. I think we are progressing and progressing the way we want. We have to continue to improve no doubt.”
Saints RB #23 Pierre Thomas on if he will play against the Raiders
“Definitely, I am preparing for it. I am ready to play on Friday. I am ready to hit another team besides my own players.”
Saints CB #40 Chris Carr onwhat is the approach on special teams for the Raiders?
“Everybody is in the same predicament. You can’t use that as an excuse. But the ultimate goal is to get ready for the regular season games. If you are a coaching staff, you want to feel like when you go into that first game, you have a confident kickoff and punt team. It’s all about getting better. By the time the fourth preseason game comes along, if you aren’t playing well by that point, then there is going to be something wrong. But I think it’s really important not to panic and not get overconfident. We (can) go out there against Oakland this Friday and play very well, but that doesn’t mean anything. You have to get better because once things go along, people are going to get more experience here and we are going to watch a lot of film and if you aren’t on your game, you are going to get beat. It’s about being consistent and doing things consistently well. That was just one game and we want to treat that as an anomaly and hopefully that’s not the norm and we do a lot better.”
Saints WR #84 Kenny Stills talks about his goals going into the Raiders Game.
“Just to play mistake-free. I had a few mistakes with the drop and a fumble and I just want to go out there and play mistake-free and make sure I’m getting to my alignment and doing my assignment.”
He’s soft spoken, but he’s an all-business type guy. Second year defensive lineman Tyrunn Walker is well on track to be in that number with the New Orleans Saints again this season.
Bobby and I spoke with Saints DL Tyrunn Walker at Saints Camp. “I feel good about where I am right now. I feel like I learned a lot last season. And hopefully that pays off this year,” he told us.
Big #75 is entering his second season in the NFL. “I feel more comfortable out there. I’m better than I was a year ago and right now our defense is improving each day.”
Walker played high school football at Westgate High School in New Iberia, then went the JUCO route to play for Jones County Community College. “Yes I flew below the radar,” he said. “ But the Saints coaches tell all of us that it does not matter how you got here. How you play is what matters most.”
After Jones County Junior College, Walker transferred to Tulsa for his junior season. In his two seasons at Tulsa, he finished with 84 tackles, 13.5 sacks, 11 pass deflections and 4 forced fumbles.
Tyrunn told me and Bobby that he feels blessed to be playing professional football so close to home, and that he is grateful to be able to see his family more often than not.
Just before we talked to him, Walker had come off a good practice. At Wednesday’s practice, Walker was in on one of the defensive stops during goal line work. “It’s competitive out there for sure. We know how good our offense is. And being able to face them every day can only make us a better defense.”
Walker said that he is a Crawfish lover and he has come to love his home state Louisiana seafood. Tyrunn also told us about the nicknames that were bestowed upon him by his peers over the years.
“They call me Ty or Big T. That’s what some of my teammates call me. My family calls me Tyrunn.”
Tyrunn Walker was just another one of many players that came into the Saints organization dubbed a long shot player. But, Walker was able to make enough plays to make a good impression and be a part of the Saints in 2012.
As far as 2013 is concerned. “I just have to keep doing what coach (Bill Johnson) tells me to do. And make plays when I’m in there.” And if “Big T” keeps on keeping on, then he will be on a Saints Defense that looks to be in a youthful movement right now!
Today, the most physical portion of training camp occurred when the Saints worked on goal line Situations. A 12-play period saw live action as the Saints got after each other, with the saints offense scoring 8 times, while the defense had four stops.
Below is the breakdown of what our resident pros had to say:
Bobby’s Take on the Saints working on goal line: "When the defense did stop the offense, they got into the backfield,” Bobby noted. Hebert pointed out that on three of the four defensive stops, those stops occurred in the Saints backfield. “They (defense) got doo penetration on those plays. That was encouraging.”
Bobby was impressed with Saints DL Tyrunn Walker. Walker thrust himself into the Saints backfield, stopping RB Pierre Thomas for a two-yard loss. “Walker is doing good. He came out of nowhere last season to make the Saints Roster and now he looks more comfortable out there this season.
Hebert said the worst part of goal line play was that of the Saints linebackers. “They (the LB’s) were getting burnt.”
Saints Defensive Coordinator Rob Ryan was very vocal, to say the least, at this morning’s practice. Ryan was not pleased with his defense giving up eight scores on 12 plays ran in goal Line play. During practice, Bobby pointed out Saints LB Coach Joe Vitt getting on to his LB’s.
Bobby said that the most impressive tackle during goal line work came when LB Eric Martin stuffed RB Travaris Cadet. On the flip side, Bobby said when the offense did score, they scored with relative ease. “Other than the run by FB Austin Johnson that was a close call, the offense scored without trouble.”
Later in team drills, back-up QB Luke McCown hit new Saints WR Patrick Crayton for a 15 yard Red Zone TD. OLB #97 Baraka Atkins had a sack on QB Seneca Wallace. And, #94 Cam Jordan also had a sack this morning on QB Seneca Wallace.
Kicker Garrett Hartley went long this morning during work on field goals. The veteran Kicker was 2-for-2 on making 55-yard field goals. But, Hartley came up a little wide to the left on a 58 yard attempt. The kick had the distance, but it was a slight hook.
Akiem dropped the ball - Again!
Yes another day at Saints Camp brings another unique observation from our resident pro and former Saints QB Bobby Hebert. After the Saints took a short water break following their work on goal line situations, the Saints then worked on special teams.
During special teams work, the Saints practiced kickoffs and kickoff coverage. And that’s when I heard Hebert say “Deke, Hakim dropped the ball. Say what? What Bobby was telling me is that Saints WR Saalim Hakim dropped the ball when fielding a kickoff. Of course, Hebert was referencing back when the Saints won their first ever playoff game when Saalim’s older brother, Az-Zahir Hakim, dropped a punt in the Saints' 31-28 win over the Rams in the 2001 Saints Playoffs.
Saalim did redeem himself later with a nice return that drew cheers from fans at practice this morning.
The sky was darker than normal and the temp at this morning’s practice was in the upper 70’s to low 80’s. “Anytime the sun is not out you feel better,” said Hokie. Hokie told me that back in his playing days, whenever there was a little cloud cover he and his teammates were a little more fired up to practice.
Today the most action at Saints Practice came when the team worked on toal line situations. Hokie got a little excitement in his eyes during Goal Line play.
“That was as much action as we saw in the entire Black and Gold Scrimmage. I thought when the offense scored they were good TD’s and when the defense held the offense out they shut down the run," Hokie told me.
Hokie did say that he was disappointed with the Saints defense and their ability to pass cover during goal line play. “I was concerned about how wide open the players were when the Saints passed the ball down on the Goal Line. That is something that they will work on.”
The Big Chief’s final analysis
Today Bobby and I spoke with Saints DL Tyrunn Walker. Big #75 is entering his second season in the NFL. “I feel more comfortable out there. I’m better than I was a year ago and right now our defense is improving each day,” he told us.
Walker played high school football at Westgate High School in New Iberia, then went the JUCO route to play for Jones County Community College.
“Yes I flew below the radar," he said. "But the Saints Coaches tell all of us that it does not matter how you got here. How you play is what matters most.”
Tyrunn Walker had a nice career at Tulsa in 2010 and 2011 before being picked up by the Saints after the 2012 NFL Draft.
Right back at ya!
I know that the players and coaches don’t pay any attention to what the media says. But it seem like to me that the Saints offense was fired up today a little more than usual, after all the talk this training camp has been about how much improvement the Saints defense has made.
This morning TE Jimmy Graham spiked the ball rather hard I might add after scoring a TD. And later, WR Lance Moore did a little extra something-something after he hauled in a nice pass. “It’s always competitive out there. Every time we have the ball we want to score,” said Moore.
He has a look of confidence typically not seen in undrafted rookie free agents. But, then again, not many have a big impact on their team. Saints DE Glenn Foster is that big impact!
“In college I had a nick name ‘Mr. Impact.’ I was explosive and I showed flash that I was capable of making big plays,” said young Glenn Foster to Bobby Hebert and me, when we asked if he had a nickname.
Impact would be quite fitting for Foster. He made his NFL debut last week with the Saints. In his first NFL game, Glenn Foster had a sack and forced a fumble in the Saints 17-13 win over the Kansas City Chiefs. Now, as the Saints get ready to face the Oakland Raiders, Foster looks to take another step forward.
Foster got his shot with the Saints after a nice career in the Big Ten playing for Illinois. “Coming out of high school I was under the radar. I got a chance to play college ball at Illinois and played on the D-Line,” said an enthusiastic Foster.
Foster had a solid senior season, and recalls his best game as a college football player. “It was against those Buckeyes…the Ohio State game,” smiled Foster. “I had two sacks and that was my best game of my college career.” Foster had two sacks, seven tackles including three tackles for losses.
Foster turned heads at the NFL Scouting Combine this winter, when he ran a 4.8 forty yard dash and did well in all drills. But even with all of the hype from the Combine, Foster did not hear his name called NFL Draft weekend.
“I had a fourth or fifth round draft grade,” said an innocent Foster. “I ended up not being drafted. But it’s not how you get here (NFL), it’s what you do while you’re here.” Foster was very disappointed, but he always felt confident he’d get a chance with an NFL team.
Foster got his chance as a member of the Saints undrafted free agent class. He agreed to terms with the Saints April 28th. Now the young defensive lineman from Chicago likes his standing with the Black & Gold. “I feel pretty awesome,” said the young, hopeful defensive end. “I feel like every day at practice I’m getting better. Technique, fundamentals, watching film, I’m just working on correcting mistakes and doing whatever it takes to become a better player.”
But, does Glenn Foster really have a chance to make the Saints roster? “Hell yes he has a chance,” said Bobby Hebert. “Glenn is playing with a lot of emotion and he brings a needed energy to the Saints defense.”
So far so good for Glenn Foster, this promising young NFL player. The Saints have three preseason games left and many practices in between before final cuts are made later this month.
What does Glenn Foster need to do to make the team? “Continue to take Coach Bill’s (Saints Defensive Line Coach Bill Johnson) coaching,” said Foster. “Right now I feel like I’m on a great path. If I take a step back, I make sure I take two steps forward the next day. I have to keep learning the playbook and apply it every day.”
It’s still early; the pre-season has a long way to go. But on his current path, Glenn Foster may just be the “Mr. Impact” the Saints defense needs to help them become a much better unit in 2013.
The Cajun Cannon, Bobby Hebert takes notes at each Saints Practice. I go over the notes and jot a few down for you. Writing down what Bobby watches can only give you a little bit of what is in the mind of the Cajun Cannon. So for a full description of the Cannon’s notes and a complete breakdown of today’s practice get the latest from the horse’s mouth today at 4:00 p.m. with us on Sports talk live from the Saints Training Facility on Airline Drive!
Now, here are some of Bobby’s notes from this morning’s Saints practice:
OLB Martez Wilson was back on the field today. #95 Wilson has been out for a couple of weeks and was in a red jersey. When a player has on a red Jersey it means that the player is not to be involved in contact drills.
The Cajun Cannon continues to see progress being made on the Saints defense. "The defense is playing with a lot of emotion. You can see guys talking to each other even in the individual drills. Players look like they are more fired up."
In one-on-one drills, WR Lance More was blanketed by CB Jabari Greer. Greer put excellent coverage on #16, but Greer dropped what could have been an interception.
TE Jimmy Graham dropped a fade route. DB Malcolm Jenkins was on Graham, but it was just a flat out drop on Graham's behalf, according to Bobby Hebert.
In seven-on-seven drills QB Drew Brees hit WR Lance Moore down the middle of the field for a 30-yard gain. Moore had a good match-up against LB Curtis Lofton, beating him down the middle of the field.
Later in the team portion of practice, tempo was a strong emphasis this morning. "Coaches were telling players to hurry up. I heard Coach Joe Vitt telling players to get lined up. And the same type of up-tempo play was done on offense as well," Bobby said after practice.
DB Malcolm Jenkins may have had his best practice of camp thus far. The veteran defensive back from Ohio State came up big a few times this morning. "He (Jenkins) had a good pass defense in the first team drill,” Bobby said. “And later, Jenkins picked off QB Drew Brees during the two-minute drill."
Only Bobby can come up with this stuff -The Johnson's! Yes the Cajun Cannon has a mind like no other. When taking down what Bobby's notes were this morning he tells me Deke, the Johnson's were heard from this morning. I'll try and explain.
During one play LB Rufus Johnson blew up a play in which FB Austin Johnson was the lead blocker. Stay with me people… On with more Johnson's. And DL Tom Johnson tackled RB Travaris Cadet for a two yard loss on the very same play. And do you know who Tom Johnson's position coach is? Bill Johnson. The Cannon said, “I'll bet our (Saints) Johnson's are better than yours!”
More Defense - The Saints defense was solid again on third-down play this morning. The Saints defense held the offense to 0-for-3 on third down conversions on their first three third down situations.
"The defense won seventy percent of the time this morning. I like the way the defense is moving around right now." Hebert said that DL Akiem Hicks also had a disruptive practice this morning.
"Hicks had two sacks on Drew Brees, he blew up a screen play and batted down a pass. Hicks is having a very good camp." LB Roman Humber also came up with a sack this morning.
Bobby noted that back-up QB Seneca Wallace hit RB Mark Ingram on a wheel route for about 15 gain. Then, on a third and eight, Wallace hit WR Andy Tanner on what would have been a 60 yard TD.
WR Preston Parker hauled in a 40 yard pass during team drills and the practice ended with work on the two minute drill. QB Drew Brees hit TE Jimmy Graham for a 30 yard gain during the two minute drill.
And on the final play of two minute work, DB Malcolm Jenkins made a diving interception on QB Drew Brees. "Malcolm was impressive this morning. He was all over the field," Hebert said.
Hey there rookie! - Today the Cajun Cannon and I were able to catch up with rookie DE Glenn Foster. Foster was very entertaining and he's off to a good start so far during training camp.
"I'm just trying to get in there and make plays," a smiling, confident Foster told me. Foster is a un-drafted rookie free agent out of the University of Illinois.
Not many Who Dat's knew Foster before his outing against KC last Friday. The 6-4 285 DE had a sack and forced a fumble in the Saints 17-13 win over the Chiefs. Foster is trying to land a spot on the Saints Roster and so far he has made his presence felt.
You can listen to our entire conversation with Glenn Foster today on Sports Talk starting at 4PM here on WWL Saints Radio.
It was the next-to-last practice for Who Dats to see their Black and Gold heroes at Training Camp. The Founding Father of the Who Dat Nation was on hand as well:
On the Saints defense: Bobby says says the Saints defense is making strides so far during training camp. "I think the defensive line is coming around. I like the way the secondary is progressing. But I am a little concerned about the linebackers."
At today's practice: Bobby talked about the Saints working on short-yardage situations. "There were 12 plays run. The offense won seven out of the 12 plays. I think when it was the first team offense against the first team defense it was tied 3-3."
Bobby says the short yardage work was a good drill that featured a good bit of physical play. Hebert said that rookie defensive lineman John Jenkins had a good run stuff on RB Travaris Cadet keeping Cadet from picking up a first down.
Bobby's take on the Saints special team's struggles in last week’s preseason game against Kansas City: "Well, they (Saints) struggled last year. That area (coverage units) has to improve this season."
Bobby said that the Chiefs crushed the Saints in punt and kick returns as KC piled up 242 yards in returns. The Chiefs had three kick returns for 136 yards for an average of 45.3 yards per return. And KC added another 106 yards on six punt returns, averaging 17.7 yards per return.
"I know that Coach Payton will be looking to see how much the team has learned from the first preseason game to the Raiders Game this week. And he will be looking to see which players have improved from the first game."
Hokie's Call on today's practice
"They (Saints) worked on short yardage situations. It was about 75% live and the Saints ran the ball right up the gut. At times the defense took the running backs down to the ground, and other times they did not." Hokie said that he thinks the Saints are right on schedule as far as what they want to accomplish during training camp.
"I'd have to say that they (Saints) are about right where they need to be. Coach Payton is still installing his playbook and he and his staff will continue to follow their schedule as planned."
Gajan on the Saints 17-13 win over KC:
Hokie says that the Saints showed him that they are committed to running the ball more. "I think this team will run the ball more this season. I mean when is the last time we (Saints) ran the ball 36 times in a preseason game?"
Gajan said, that other than the breakdown on special teams in covering punts and kicks, that he was pleased with the Saints’ effort against Kansas City. "I saw no glaring mistakes other than on special teams coverage. I thought our defense settled down after that first drive by the Chiefs. There are some mental busts that took place but those mistakes will be corrected."
The Big Chief: After further review!
Well all weekend long all I heard mostly was about how the Saints first-team defense faired against the Chiefs first-team offense. Give credit where credit is due. The Chiefs first team offense did gash the Saints first team defense for 80 yards on 14 plays and a touchdown.
But after that first drive the Saints defense put the clamps down on the Chiefs. Kansas City finished the game with 215 yards of total offense on 58 offensive plays and 13 points.
When you crunch the number you can see that the Saints defense did improve throughout the game. In their final 11 drives of the games the Chiefs ran 44 plays for a total of 135 yards.
Kansas City was held to just six points in that same time span and gained on average just three yards per play. Food for thought!
Ones on ones, yes, KC went 80 yards on 14 plays and got seven points. But overall you would have to say that the Saints defense played pretty good in Friday night’s preseason game. Some might say better than pretty good. After that first drive of the game, the Chiefs gained just 135 yards and picked up two field goals. In fact, I thought overall the Saints made progress.
Now can more progress be made this week as the Silver and Black come to town? All we can go by is what we see. And so far, the things that the Saints said that they needed to improve upon they look like they are making progress.
Aside from the position battles that all media, fans, and everyone is talking about, the topics of being more balanced on offense, being more aggressive and better on defense have been touched on, to say the least.
The Saints ran the ball 36 times against the Chiefs. I tend to look more at the number of attempts right now compared to yards gained. The commitment to running the football was something Coach Payton talked about all off-season.
Wouldn’t you have to say that 47 passing attempts and 36 rushing attempts is good balance? And on defense, the Saints did get better after that first drive. Chase Daniel, who supposedly knows the Saints, could only muster a five play eight yard drive on his first action against the Saints Defense.
Rookie John Jenkins got a sack, while fellow rookie in Safety Kenny Vaccaro led the Saints with six tackles. So right there you can see the impact two rookie additions made defensively made among others. There was progress made.
And remember what Sean Payton said: His team did make mistakes. But the biggest thing to keep in mind was that the preseason has a long way to go. And Payton was not hitting the panic button with that statement; instead, he was calmly saying that we (Saints) know what we have to do. And we are going to work on getting better. I believe him. Why wouldn’t I?
Now the play of the Saints special teams left some sour taste in the mouths of the Who Dat Nation. Allowing 242 yards gained combined on kick and punt returns will not be tolerated, and I would expect to see some type of improvement from week one of the preseason to week two against the Raiders.
So as we move into second week of the preseason, sure there are things that need to be improved. But I thought that this team took a step forward in their 17-13 win over Kansas City.
Noteworthy - The New Orleans Saints take on the Kansas City Chiefs tonight in the first preseason game for both teams. Kansas City is coming off a 2-14 season while the Saints were 7-9 a year ago.
The two teams have met nine times in preseason play with the Saints holding a 5-4 edge over the Chiefs. The Saints and Chiefs are tied at five wins each in regular season meetings.
Did you know? That former Saints Defensive Coordinator Gary Gibbs coaches linebackers for the Chiefs? And our very own Cajun Cannon Bobby Hebert had 211 yards passing a two TD’s in the Saints 17-10 win over Kansas City back in September of 1991.
The last time the Saints met the Chiefs: Well we all know that when the Saints and Chiefs last met, it was the beginning of the end for the Saints 2012 season. Sure New Orleans was already off to a 0-2 start. But a loss to a team that had no offensive life and trailed New Orleans 24-6 late in the third struck a blow to the Saints that the Black and Gold never recovered from.
Yes, that was then, and this is now. But that week three meltdown hurt the Saints bad. How bad was it? OK, since you asked… Drew Brees threw a 6 yard TD pass to FB Jed Collins. The Saints went up 24-6 with 5:36 left in the third quarter.
The Saints looked like they were going to notch their first win of the season and get to 1-2. But then the bottom fell out and disaster struck. The Chiefs roared back to win the game 27-24 in overtime. Kansas City had nothing going on offense until late in the third when RB Jaamal Charles reeled off a 91 yard run.
In fact the Chiefs racked up over 300 yards of total offense on their final seven drives of the game. On the flip side the Saints Offense ran 19 plays for just 32 yards during their last seven offensive possessions. Yikes!
What they are saying about the game
Saints Coach Sean Payton on what he's looking for in the first couple of series…
“Typically, in this first game, you say the first quarter, but it’s one side of the ball or the other ends up with more snaps. Somewhere between that 14 to 16 play mark, we will try to divide it up into phases. In other words, phase one, phase two, (and) phase three. Defense might be moving into phase two, and yet, we are still in phase one on offense. We will try to communicate that way. There are a handful of players that are going to transition, and they may be on the field in phase one and then playing some in phase two. So, the first quarter would be a good starting point.”
Saints DB #27 Malcolm Jenkins on what he's looking for from his individual play as well as the Saints defense…
“Individually, I think it’s just about getting into the groove of the game. Being able to get out there in the first fifth teen, making the proper adjustments in the secondary, making sure my eyes are lined up, fly around, and just do the little things right. From a defensive standpoint, the game plan is pretty simple. Get out there, execute, fly around, be physical, and that’s it. We just want to see guys cut it loose and play hard. We can add the Xs and Os later but for right now, this is all about evaluating individuals, seeing how smart they are, how physical they are, and how they can grasp the game. Some of the young guys will probably get a little gassed during the game and this is a chance for us to see what they do when they get tired, if they result in mental lapses, penalties and things like that. It will be a good chance to evaluate where we are.” Saints WR #88 Nick Toon on how excited he is about playing the Chiefs.
“It’s exciting. It’s been a long time coming. I’m finally healthy and ready to try and get out there and get rolling.”
Saints back-up rookie QB #4 Ryan Griffin on if he's a little nervous at his first game in the NFL…
“I mean you always have a little nerves before (a) game, it’s just going to be different not going out and not playing right away and waiting. I’m kind of waiting and trying to get back in the second half and get ready then. That’s the one thing I'm trying to figure out how to adjust to that.”
Looking ahead to tonight’s game – Our Resident Pros Bobby Hebert and Hokie Gajan…
Well Saints Fans after having a healthy week of training camp the first week of practice, injuries hit Saints Camp at the end of last week and on into week two of practice. "I tell you the injury bug has hit us. All teams go through this kind of stuff. That does not make things any easier," said Saints Color Analyst Hokie Gajan
This past week has been a tough one for the New Orleans Saints. The Saints were hit hard by the injury bug. Two more key players were lost for season. WR Joe Morgan and DE Kenyon Coleman were both lost for the entire 2013 season after suffering injuries at practice.
Morgan had two injuries as the speedy WR suffered a meniscus tear and Morgan also has to have an ACL repair. Coleman suffered a pectoral tear. Saints Coach Sean Payton talked about the loss of Moran and Coleman. "So there’s two players that are significant. Obviously they are losses, and we have to find some guys to step up and take their spot.” The Saints also lost pass rusher Victor Butler during OTA's earlier this summer.
Gajan says that when a player goes down it gives another player an opportunity to step up. "Rob Ryan is going to have to reshuffle the deck. We knew that Vic Butler was brought here to rush the passer. And Kenyon Coleman was brought in to stop the run. Now, both of those guys are out. We were counting on those guys and now somebody else has to step up."
What will #3 the Cajun Cannon look for in the New Orleans vs KC Game?
"I'm going to be focused more in that first quarter on what the first (team) units do. I'll be watching what our offense does against their (KC) defense and the same for our defense against the Chiefs Offense." Bobby takes notes during Saints game in a very unique way. The Cannon uses two legal pads and three different highlighters along with an ink pen to give the Who Dat Nation the best and most comprehensive breakdown of Saints Games.
So what else is the Cannon going to be eying in the first preseason game for the Black and Gold? "I like to watch the individual players and how they do as the game progresses. I want to see who's making tackles on special teams, kickoff coverage and punt coverage as well."
Bobby advised the Who Dat Nation to be in their seat right at 7PM when the game kicks off. Hebert says that the starting players won't play much. "Pretty much the first couple of drives will have the one's (first team players) versus the ones. And that's the closet thing you're going to get to a regular season game."
The Cajun Cannon will look to see which WR can enhance their shot at becoming the #3 WR. And Bobby says watch the Saints Running Backs. "I would expect that Travaris Cadet and Khiry Robinson to get the bulk of the carries. The coaches know what Pierre Thomas, Mark Ingram and Darren Sproles can do already."
Our pros will also be watching who stands out at left tackle. Charles Brown, Terron Armstead and Jason Smith are the players battling for that spot. And Hokie wants to see more improvement in the Saints Defensive Backfield. "They (DB's) have been playing a lot faster. The defense has been very aggressive during camp and I'll be looking to see if that continues in the first preseason game."
Following Wednesday's practice, both Hokie and Bobby agreed that after having a first week that kept the Black and Gold most injury free, week two has not been as kind. Coach Payton let us know the Saints have lost WR Joe Morgan and DE Kenyon Coleman for the season, meaning three key players are no longer in the mix when you count the loss of Victor Butler during OTA's.
The Cajun Cannon’s Take
CC's highlights: QB Drew Brees to TE Ben Watson for a big on a corner route. "It looked like a busted coverage. It was about 30 yards gained on the play."
CB P-Rob had a good exchange on WR Kenny Stills. "He (P-Rob) had good tight coverage. He caused an incompletion. That is what he supposed to do."
Bobby said that the battle for the back-up QB spot will intensify this weekend with the preseason games starting up. Bobby said overall QB Seneca Wallace and Luke McCown are both in a battle to see who will land the back-up QB job. "McCown has been more accurate, but Wallace can make plays with his feet. I'll be watching them closely in the game."
The Cannon also liked the way LB Will Herring practiced today. "Herring was good on run support as he tackled RB Mark Ingram for a one-yard loss. And he had pass break-up during this mornings practice as well."
Bobby noted that WR Andy Tanner did something this morning that he is not known for doing. “The reliable handed WR had a chance at a big play. But he dropped a pass from QB Ryan Griffin."
Bobby's notes also yielded that both OLB Will Smith and DE Cam Jordan applied nice pressure on QB Drew Brees, with both converging on Brees at the same time. “Brees did dump the ball off to RB Darren Sproles, but it looked like a sack to me."
Cam Jordan later would have another big play. Jordan tossed RB Travaris Cadet to the ground, stopping him in his tracks.
LB Kevin Reddick also came up with a nice play today at practice. "He (Reddick)could be a dark horse,” Bobby said. “He got into the backfield and took RB Khiry Robinson down for about a two-yard loss. I think he could have a chance to make the team."
Also, QB Drew Brees completed a 20-yard pass to WR Marques Colston. "Colston looked good. He's (Colston) working himself back into shape and he looked good."
Throw of the day: WR Jarred Fayson hauled in a 20 yard reception from QB Ryan Griffin. Bobby said that Griffin made a very nice throw in getting the ball in a tight spot to complete the pass.
Hokie said that it was a tough day for the Black and Gold. "I tell you, the injury bug has hit us. All teams go through this kind of stuff. That does not make things any easier."
Hokie talked about the Saints losing another big off season pick-up in DE Kenyon Coleman. "Rob Ryan is going to have to reshuffle the deck. We knew that Vic Butler was brought here to rush the passer. And Kenyon Coleman was brought in to stop the run. Now, both of those guys are out. We were counting on those guys and now somebody else has to step up."
The Saints did install some goal line packages this morning in preparing for the first pre-season game Friday night against the KC Chiefs, according to Hokie. He said that the goal line work was not live during the team period.
Also, Hokie noted that in nine-on-seven drills the Saints offense ran the ball well. "We've seen a lot of aggressive play from the defense and we've seen more of a commitment to rushing the football. I would expect both of those things to continue in the games."
As for Thursday, Hokie said he expects the Saints to have a light practice tomorrow before their first game Friday night. "It will be a typical day before a game practice. They (Saints) will go over all the things they want to work on in the game. They will make sure that everyone knows which special team they will be on. It's kind of like a dress rehearsal."
When you talk about someone being a true professional, you should look no further than Saints TE Ben Watson. The former first round 2004 Patriots draft pick will be entering his tenth season in the NFL this fall.
“I give a lot of credit to my support group, which most certainly includes my family,” Watson told me. “I’ve been fortunate to play the game this long and I’m very grateful to be able to do so.”
Ben had a unique path to the NFL.
Watson started playing college football for Duke University, but then Ben decided to transfer to play for the University of Georgia Bulldogs. “I got to Duke and then I realized that some of the things football-wise that I wanted to do, like be on national TV and play for a national championship, I needed to go somewhere else.”
So Ben transferred to UGA and helped the Bulldogs get to back-to-back SEC Title Games in 2002 and 2003. Ben became one of the best tight ends in all of college football as he was one of just two players at that position that were drafted in the first round of the 2004 NFL Draft.
The success that Ben had in his last two years at UGA and during his first few seasons with the Patriots would make any player jealous. Check out these numbers - In his final two seasons with UGA playing for the Bulldogs, Watson helped UGA compile an impressive 24-4 record with two appearances in the SEC Title Game, one SEC Title and two bowl wins.
Then during his rookie season, Watson and the Patriots won 17 games with just two losses as they beat the Eagles 24-21 in Super Bowl XXXIX. So when you put a pencil to those numbers, Watson was 41-6 with three bowl wins in three seasons.
What makes Ben so interesting is his love for the game and his intelligence. It has been reported that Ben Watson scored a 48 on his Wonderlic Test which many feel is a test that test the intelligence of athletes. And, oh yes, the highest you can make on the test is a 50!
Ben sat down with me and Bobby and talked about his professional days in the NFL. Watson said that being a good blocker is a must at the tight end position and he spoke highly of fellow TE and new teammate Jimmy Graham.
“A tight end like Jimmy creates so many mismatches. He has so much talent and he wants to get better. And that’s a great thing.”
Watson and Graham have both looked good at practice this training camp, leading many to believe that the two could become one of the best one-two punches at TE in the NFL this season.
Entering his tenth year in the league Ben has racked up 321 receptions for 3,776 yards with 28 touchdowns. He told us working with the likes of Tom Brady and Drew Brees has been quite nice. And Ben, whose wife is from New Orleans, said that he full well knows and understands how proud the Who Dat Nation is of their team.
Here is what our Resident Pros Bobby Hebert and Hokie Gajan had to say about Monday's Saints news and practice:
Hokie on the Saints getting WR Steve Breaston: "I think it's a pretty good move. He (Breaston) is a guy with name recognition. Steve is a proven player that has been in the league for quite some time. He brings experience and the move to bring him here certainly can't hurt."
What is Hokie looking forward to next?
Goal line drill - It is considered the most physical drill in training camp. "The goal line drill is about who wants it the most. The defense’s job is to keep the offense out of the end zone. And the offense is trying to score."
Hokie said that he thinks the Saints will run their goal line drill sooner than later, since there has not been much work on that area yet during camp. "There were a few plays around the goal line in the Black and Gold Scrimmage. But I would think we may see more of that at practice sooner than later."
Hokie's impressed! Hokie Gajan has been pleased with the progression of the Saints defense thus far. And Hokie, for the first time in a few years is really excited about the Saints Secondary.
"There is a lot of depth back there and now with the return of Patrick Robinson, the competition will be even better." Hokie talked about how the Saints have three first round picks in the secondary in Kenny Vaccaro, Malcolm Jenkins and P-Rob. And, Hokie says he has seen a lot of strides made in an area that has been considered weak.
"I'm seeing a lot of action back there. To me, the secondary is playing faster and they are really flying to the football. I'm not just saying that. I feel like the Saints Secondary has made a lot of improvement."
Hokie also said that the interior D-Line that features Broderick Bunkley, John Jenkins and Akiem Hicks are a legit group of players and the position changes that Junior Gallette and Will Smith have made has been a smooth transition.
The Cajun one!
Bobby Hebert on the Saints picking up WR Steve Breaston: "When he (Breaston) was with the Cardinals, Breaston was behind two of the best players in the game. He (Breaston) is a player that has been known for making plays. I think Breaston will help us."
Bobby spoke of Breaston and his days with Arizona when Breaston was the Cards third WR behind Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldan. Bobby says that Breaston should be able to pick up the Saints Offensive scheme rather quickly.
Bobby also said that if WR Joe Morgan is hurt and has to miss a lot of time, the WR that steps up to take his place will have to do well the rest of camp. "We don't know the extent of Morgan's injury. But him being out does make the WR battle more interesting right now."
Hebert is also expecting the Saints to work on some goal line situations at some point this week. "I'm thinking that when they do work on goal line situations it will be about a 10 to 12 play period."
Bobby also likes the progression of the defense. And now the battle to see who lands the back-up spot to Drew Brees will begin to be answered. "It's going to come down to which QB (Wallace, McCown and Griffin) plays the best in the preseason games. Seneca Wallace is the most mobile of the three, Griffin is a rookie. And Luke McCown took advantage of the extra reps he got last week."
OK, the first full week of training camp will be in the books for the New Orleans Saints. The Saints wrap up week one and get a day off. But first, their annual Black and Gold Scrimmage takes place on Saturday. Here's what Saints Coach Sean Payton, our resident pros Hokie and Bobby, and current Saints players are expecting at the scrimmage:
Hokie Gajan: “I’ll keep an eye on the individual position battles. The Left Tackle position battle still has my eye. I think Charles Brown and Terron Armstead are ahead of Jason Smith. I really like the progress that Armstead has made. I know he’s a rookie, but he’s (Armstead) has good feet and he has a nastiness about him.”
Hokie thinks by some of the things the players and coaches have said this week at practice, that this Black and Gold Scrimmage may be a little more interesting than past B&G Games.
The Cajun Cannon says: “It will be the closest thing to a game we will see at practice. I want to see if the offense can sustain drives against what looks to be an improved Saints Defense. I think our defense is better and they have been more aggressive during camp.”
Bobby also says that he will be watching the Saints Wide Receivers and if a player can make an impact in the scrimmage. “At times we have seen Saalim Hakim, Chris Givens, Preston Parker and Andy Tanner all have their moments. Now I want to see who makes plays in a game like situation.”
Saints Coach Sean Payton - Is there anything specifically you will be looking for tomorrow? What are some positions that you are most curious about?
“I think tomorrow, I am anxious to see how we do at left tackle. I am anxious to see how some of these young defensive backs and receivers handle this competition. For me, there are a number of these linebackers who run together, when I am watching the tape. I think Seneca (Wallace) will probably not go tomorrow. We will have a chance to see Drew (Brees), we will see Luke (McCown) and finish with Ryan (Griffin), kind of bump those guys up a little bit when we take Drew out. So, with three quarterbacks, they will get a lot of snaps. At the halfback position, we will be pretty clean in the rotation. So, (for) some of those linemen, both on the offense and defense side of the ball (it is a good opportunity). It is always the first impression when you get into a situation like this is interesting. So, I am anxious to see that.”
Saints CB #28 Keenan Lewis - Are you excited about it being regular football tomorrow?
“Definitely, tomorrow is going to be pads, it’s a live scrimmage so that’s what you can assimilate to a game and hopefully everybody is ready to go.”
Saints back-up QB #7 Luke McCown - What are you trying to take away from tomorrow’s scrimmage?
“I’m just trying to execute. I think if you ask across the board that’s what the players want. We’re just trying to execute what we’ve installed to this point. We’re not trying to do too much. It’s not like we’re getting a scheme up on what our defense is doing. We’re running our plays and there’s going to be some things that don’t mesh up well with what they’re doing defensively and vice versa offensively versus what they’re doing offensively. It’s just a matter of executing within the game plan, within what we’ve installed and come away with a good scrimmage.”
Saints OLB #93 Junior Gallette - How much eagerness is there to get into live football situations tomorrow?
“It’s a lot of eagerness your definitely a little anxious. I’m not even worried about the day off I'm worried about the scrimmage. I’m just so focused on this and making sure that with everything I'm detailed with all my assignments and seeing how I am actually feel through a series of plays and not just three or four plays at a time.”
Saints Safety #27 Malcolm Jenkins - When teams go into scrimmages, the coaches are looking to see physical play and take advantage of the opportunity to evaluate in game-like conditions. As a player, what do you need to see out of this scrimmage?
“I think the scrimmages are a chance for coaches and players to evaluate themselves. You get put into situations where the game plan is pretty simple and you got to go out and execute. Just like you get evaluated in every practice and every game, this is just one situation where you get to test yourself, do you know what you are doing and can you get the job done.”
Join our WWL Sports Team Saturday morning beginning at 8:00 a.m.. Our team will bring you all of the action from Saints Practice, as our resident pros will break down each play of the scrimmage! Former Saints Offensive Lineman Steve Korte, former Saints FB Hokie Gajan and the Cajun Cannon Bobby Hebert dissect the scrimmage LIVE from start to finish. Tune in right here on the Flagship of the New Orleans Saints WWL 870AM/FM 105.3 and online at wwl.com.
Following today’s scorcher of a practice, I went one-on-one with our WWL resident pros Bobby Hebert & Hokie Gajan about STC Day 8:
The Cajun Cannon’s take - The first full week of camp is in the books, and the Saints will officially wrap up week one with their annual Black & Gold Scrimmage. So, what has the first QB who led the Saints to the playoffs seen in his former club?
“The team has been very active. The team is playing with a lot of energy and they should be,” observed Bobby Hebert. “There are no more two-a-day practices and players are fresher. Tomorrow is the closest thing to a game we will see during camp, before the preseason games begin.”
The Cajun Cannon said he’s looking forward to the team’s live goal line battle, which is long considered the most physical part of any training camp. “Linebacker Curtis Lofton told me he always looks forward to that (goal line) drill, because it’s man on man,” said Hebert. The goal line drill is a battle where the defense tries to keep the offense out of the end zone and the offense, of course, tries to score. The drill is about a 12-play drill run generally once during training camp.
“We’ve got the Black & Gold Scrimmage tomorrow, then the goal line drill next week…and before you know it, the Chief’s will be coming to town,” said an enthusiastic Bobby Hebert. The Cannon was impressed with today’s one-on-one drills. Linebacker Eric Martin put a beautiful swim move on Jason Smith and easily got past Smith to the quarterback. Also, defensive end Cam Jordan lifted offensive tackle Zach Strief off his feet during team drills.
You can catch the Cajun Cannon’s full breakdown of today’s practice on SportsTalk 4 to 8pm on SAINTSradio, WWL (870am, 105.3fm and WWL.com).
“Well it was a non-padded practice today with the emphasis being on third down and nickel,” observed Gajan. If today wasn’t the hottest day at camp it was sure close. Hokie’s looking forward to the Black & Gold Scrimmage, because although it’s like practice, it has a little more intensity.
Hokie on the Saints Defense: “The defense is bringing a lot of pressure right now,” said the former Saints running back and scout. “You can tell that Coach Ryan is finding different ways to bring pressure. Whether there is pressure from the outside or up the middle, they (defense) are bringing a lot of pressure. And to me that’s encouraging.”
What’s Hokie’s impression Coach Rob Ryan? Gajan says Ryan revved up the Saints defense; they’re far more aggressive…always in attack mode…and all of the Saints quarterbacks have to hurry to get rid of the ball. “They say you live by the blitz and die by the blitz. And there have been some blown assignments at times. But, right now, the defense has had the right blitz packaged call more times than not,” said Hokie. Gajan says seeing this much pressure this early in training camp is a little unusual.
Hokie on NFL officials: NFL officials are now at practice; they’ll be at camp through the weekend, and they’re attending Saints film sessions. “I think having the officials here is beneficial for the players and the coaches,” said the Saints color analyst. “You can see at times officials talking to players. And right now that’s all it is, is talk. When the season begins they will be throwing flags.” So in Hokie’s words,” better learn dem new rules now!”
Hokie on Black & Gold game day: Hokie has long considered the annual Black & Gold Scrimmage a glorified practice. But, what does the 32 year NFL veteran look for? “I’ll keep an eye on the individual position battles,” said Gajan. “Whenever you say the word scrimmage, it kind of lights a fire under players, and it will be a little more excitement and intensity out there tomorrow.”
The Big Chief’s observations
Bad, bad, bad! Yes, inebriation rearedits ugly head. Towards the latter part of today’s Saints practice, a fan, who seemingly had way too many, tried to run onto the field. Our roving reporter Jay Vise sauntered over to find out what the fan was trying to do.
Jay learned the fan was a little upset about the Saints 7-9 record, and he wanted to talk to Coach Payton about the disappointing season. I wonder if that guy knew Coach Payton didn’t coach a single one of the Saints 16 regular season games in 2012? Give it up and show some love to Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s department. They took down the clown without incident, and as Roscoe P. Coltrane would say, “JD cuffed’em and stuffed’em.” Who Dat?!? JP…Dats Who!
A good friend in Ben! Yes, folks…talking with tight end Ben Watson today, felt like talking to a friend. Watson is an intelligent, calm, humble man who has been in the NFL for 10 years. Watson sat down with Bobby Hebert and me to talk about his role with the Saints, and his life away from football as a great husband and father. And, we spoke to Ben about his college football days tpp. It’s easy to see the world is a much better place with people like Ben Watson! Listen to SportsTalk today between 4 and 8pm for the entire interview with Big Ben Watson! He and Jimmy Graham will be one powerful combination!
Saints Defensive Lineman Kenyon Coleman enters his 12th season in the NFL this fall. Of his previous 11 seasons, Coleman has worked with Saints Defensive Coordinator Rob Ryan five years.
“Rob’s a great guy,” said Coleman. “This will be the fifth year working together. He has a way of getting the best out of his players. He’s a guy you can trust, a man of his word and I love playing for him.” Rob Ryan and Coleman worked together in Cleveland and Dallas before uniting once again here in the Big Easy.
Coleman says he’s more than excited to play for the New Orleans Saints. “First of all, Sean (Payton) is an incredible leader. I have had some good head coaches, but Sean (Payton) has built an incredible machine here. It’s very impressive and as far as me fitting in, we have a lot of great guys here so it makes the transition a lot easier.”
Kenyon Coleman came into the NFL after a solid career at UCLA. After his time with the Bruins, Coleman was selected by the Oakland Raiders in the fifth round of the 2002 NFL Draft with the 147th overall pick.
Coleman played one season for the Oakland Raiders in 2002. Then Coleman bounced around several franchises. Coleman would next play for the Dallas Cowboys.
Coleman’s first stint in Big D took place from 2003-2006 and again from 2011-2012. Kenyon also spent time in the Big Apple with the NY Jets (2007-2008). And, KC played in Cleveland with the Browns (2009-2010).
Now Coleman is with his fifth NFL team and he feels so far so good with the Black & Gold. “It’s going good, said the seasoned defensive lineman. “We’re out there grinding, working hard and trying to put it all together.” Coleman has been a durable, reliable player during his 11 year stint in the NFL.
Coleman has piled up 361 tackles and 13.5 sacks in his playing days, and right now Kenyon is all about doing whatever it takes to help the Saints win games. “Man I do just what they tell me,” said the 6 foot 5, 293 giant of a defensive end. “If they (coaches) tell me to go out there and rush, I’ll do it. I’ve got things in my mind that I think are my strengths. But the reality is that everybody on that D-Line can play. We’ve got a lot of depth and a lot of talented and I’m going to do what they want me to do.”
Saints Defensive Coordinator Rob Ryan believes Coleman is one of the best in the game, when it comes to defending the run. “"I think he (Kenyon Coleman) is the best run defender in football as a 3-4 end,” boasted Ryan.
Coach Sean Payton also likes what he sees in his veteran defensive lineman. “I think his role…and I was in Dallas when we signed him…he is a player that understands exactly what he does well and that is the early downs. He plays the run well. He can come off the block and still rush the passer. But, his strength would be defending the run on first and second down… those run situations, short yardage, and goal line stuff. He is stout. He is very strong,” said the Saints head coach.
Coleman was brought to New Orleans to help a defense that gave up on average over 140 yards per game in 2012. Will the Saints D be an improved unit in 2013? Kenyon Coleman thinks so.
“We definitely have a high ceiling,” said # 99. “There is so much talent here. I think that the skill set fits really well with what Rob (Ryan) is doing. There is a high ceiling for me and I am going to do whatever is asked of me. I’m exciting to see where we can go.”
Sitting down with Kenyon Coleman made me realize why he has been able to last so long in the NFL. First, he’s a good, professional football player. You can tell Coleman has his house in order. By that I mean Kenyon is a “faith and family first” type person, and he just wants to do whatever it takes to help his team win. That’s not politics with this guy, it’s just the truth.
So, as Saints training camp continues…how the Black & Gold defense improves will be the focus of headlines surrounding this New Orleans Saints franchise. And if guys like Kenyon Coleman provide better run support…an aggressive, seasoned approach…and a true team spirit…improvement can and should be expected.
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.
After practice on Wednesday Bobby and I had a what I think was a nice, hip and informative conversation with Saints wide receiver Nick Toon. We talked to Nick about everything from his former NFL Great father Al Toon, his days with the Badgers of Madison Wisconsin. And Nick talked about how he’s doing thus far during training camp.
Jumping around at Camp Randall
Pack it up, pack it in
Let me begin
I came to win
Battle me, that's a sin
I won't ever slack up
Punk you better back up
Try and play the role and yo the whole crew will act up
Those are two verses from the classic hip hop song “Jump Around.” When I spoke those words with Saints wide receiver Nick Toon his eyes lit up with joy. “I think it’s the best stadium in all of college football. We would get fired up when they played that,” he said. “It’s a great place to go to school and an excellent college town.”
It was a different way to conduct an interview, but it got Toon’s attention fast. I mentioned a very popular event that takes place every home game for Toon’s beloved Badgers of Wisconsin. You see, at the end of the third quarter when the Badgers play at home, the popular song ‘Jump Around’ by House of Pain is played inside of a packed Camp Randall Stadium.
Now to those of you out there that may think that Toon is just being a homer about his playing days at Wisconsin, I’ve talked to many coaches that have coached at Camp Randall, including LSU Coach Les Miles, I was told that the environment at Camp Randall is very intense, to say the least.
During his college career at Wisconsin, Toon hauled in 170 receptions for 2,447 yards with 18 touchdowns. Toon also averaged 14.4 yards per reception while playing for the Badgers. Toon is proud of his playing days in Madison.
“We became the best program in the Big Ten. I was able to play in two Rose Bowls and we’ve been to three straight. Wisconsin will always be a very special place to me.” After a solid college career, Toon was picked by the Saints in the 2012 NFL Draft.
On to the NFL
Toon heard his name called in the April 2012 NFL Draft when the Saints picked him in the fourth round of the draft with the 122nd overall pick. He got off to a decent start last year, but the rookie WR was lost for the season when he went down with an injury.
“First and foremost I’m happy to see him (Toon) healthy,” said fellow Wide Receiver Lance Moore. “Any time a guy comes in as a rookie and he’s trying to fight to make the roster and he gets hurt and does not get a chance to play its tough. No, he’s (Toon) healhty, out here producing and making plays. That’s what you love to see and hopefully he continues to get better.”
Toon is off to a good start at this year’s training camp, and he told me and Bobby that comfort would be a good term to describe how he’s feeling right now. “I’m more comfortable out there in the offense. I thinking I’m working on improving my game and the goal is to get better each time I’m on the field.”
Working on his game in the league
One thing that Toon should be well rehearsed in is blocking. Although Toon became one of the top wide receivers in the Big Ten back in his college days, Toon was in a Badgers offense that ran the ball well over sixty percent of the time.
“We had to be able to block before we did anything else. Coach Bielema’s Offense was run oriented and blocking was something that we had to do more often than not.” Toon has shown good hands during camp and he’s trying to get better each day.
“I just have to focus on the little things. I want to continue to get better every day and stay consistent. I want to eliminate mental errors and try to be as close to perfect as possible.”
Playing with great QB’s
In a short amount of time, Nick Toon has played with an NFL QB that is considered one of the best ever, and he also played one season with the NFL’s Rookie of the year in 2012 in former Wisconsin teammate and current Seattle QB Russell Wilson.
Toon knows that not many players ever get a chance to play with one great QB. In the last two year’s Toon has been alongside two great QB’s. “He’s (Russell Wilson) a great quarterback. I was very lucky to get the opporunity toplay with him and I’m very fortuante to be brought here to New Orleans and have the chance to play with one of the greatest QB’s in Drew Brees.”
The Toon & Toon-chee names!
Toon said that his teammates over the years have called him Toon-chee as a nickname. “It just stuck when they called me that.” However, he said there is no meaning behind the nickname Toon-chee.
Toon also knows that his last name is one that resonates around the NFL. Nick’s Father, Al Toon became one of the best WR’s to play the game. Al Toon was a first round draft pick (10th overall) by the New York Jets in the NFL Draft. The elder Toon hauled in 517 receptions for 6,605 yards with 31 Td’s during a an eight year career, and played all eight seasons for the NY Jets.
Toon's best year as a pro came in the 1988 season when he led the league with 93 receptions. He was forced to end his NFL career as he had at least nine concussions in an eight year span. Nick has traveled a similar path in football as his father was also a star at Wisconsin.
“I embrace what type of player he was. I know he would have played longer if he had not had all of those concussions. But he had a great career and I’m so very lucky that he is my father. Both of my parents have been great and I talked to my parents every day.”
There’s a thin line in work and working relationships. Media are not supposed to become friends with those athletes, coaches and athletic personal that we cover. But to say that at times, and I can only speak for myself, that I don’t pull for certain people, I would be lying to you.
And in life we all tend to pull for good people. Nick Toon is good people. And he has proven in the past he has been a good football player. Now if Toon can become a good NFL player, then the already dangerous New Orleans Saints offense can become even more dangerous.