Deke: Bobby and Hokie agree, Saints will excel in cool weather
by Deke Bellavia,posted Jul 25 2014 3:09PM
The first day of Saints training camp could not have gotten off to a better start. "I've never been able to do this," said Saints color analyst Hokie Gajan, speaking about wearing sweatpants and a long sleeve shirt to the first practice. The early morning temps were in the 50's and practice was spectacular in the cool and breezy 70's.
The Saints got done with practice a little bit before 11am and then ran sprints during conditioning. Saints WR Kenny Stills did leave the field this morning with what coach Payton described as a leg injury.
One of the highlights of the morning practice came when rookie WR Brandin Cooks hauled in a deep ball for a TD. Cooks had the fans cheering with his nice grab for a score. After stretching, the Saints broke off into individual groups. I was able to stand directly in front of the Saints D-Line.
"Beautiful. I'm telling you that's beautiful!" That's what D-Line coach Bill Johnson yelled to his linemen after drills. These guys were part of the amazing turnaround the unit had going from 32nd in the NFL to 4th in 2013.
The Saints worked on run defense and RB Mark Ingram had couple of nice cuts running the football. Later, RB Travarius Cadet took a handoff and then made a nice cutback for a big gain. It didn't take long for the Brees-to-Graham connection to get on track; Brees threw a nine yard strike to Graham in the highest paid TE's first catch since signing his four-year deal.
Defense got off to a good start in team drills too; DE Junior Gallette, DT Akiem Hicks and DE Cam Jordan were all in on sacks this morning.
"I did not see any real bad plays or negative things this morning. I thought that the practice had a good pace, I did not see any penalties committed, and to me it was a good crisp practice."
Hokie was impressed with what he saw from rookie WR Brandin Cooks. "Boy, you can tell that Brandin Cooks has that game-breaking speed. He made a real nice catch out there today. Gajan says that WR Nick Toon had a nice practice this morning as well, picking up from his solid play during OTA's and mini-camp.
Bobby says the players have to be excited to be in these conditions. "You've got to work real hard to break a sweat out here, the weather is awesome!" Hebert recalled being in similar weather when he was playing in the USFL. When he played with the Oakland Invaders he practiced in similar weather conditions.
"One of the best plays of the day was a hook-up from Drew Brees to WR Nick Toon," Hebert said, after Drew threw a 20-yard strike over the Toon's back shoulder. But Bobby's favorite play of the day involved Drew Brees and WR Brandin Cooks. "Cooks made a great catch. He leaped in the air and caught the ball at it's highest point," hauling in a 45 yard gain for a score.
Bobby also spoke about Cam Jordan, who spoke to the media after today's practice. "Cam Jordan has a chance to become one of the elite defenders in the game. He has improved each season since he has been with the Saints, and I expect him to only get better this season."
Saints safety Kenny Vaccaro spoke to the media too, and Bobby thinks that a healthy Vaccaro along with a healthy Jairus Byrd could give New Orleans one of the best safety tandems in the NFL. "We've not seen them together on the field yet, but I think they are going to compliment each other well."
The Big Chief's final analysis
The first hurdle has been jumped. This weather should help the Saints, as several players pointed out due to the fact that the weather is cooler, the players are expecting to get more work handed to them from coach Sean Payton.
"We did a few more sprints during conditioning. If we had been in hotter tempetatures, I don't know if we would have done that many. Coach Payton is going to push us and that will only make us better," said offensive tackle Zach Strief.
You can see that the Saints will not hold back when it comes to unleashing speedy rookie WR Brandin Cooks, whose ability is another weapon that will allow Sean Payton to be even more creative with his play calling.
The Saints have a walkthrough session this evening, then another full practice in the morning at the Greenbrier. Sunday things get a little more interesting as the Black and Gold will don pads for the first time.