As the media was escorted out to watch today’s Saints OTAs, members of the media quickly began to look up and down their rosters to see which players were participating in today’s practice. One player that was absent was new addition Jairus Byrd.
Saints Coach Sean Payton told the media that Jairus Byrd would be out the next several weeks due to back surgery he had. Coach Payton said that if this had been the regular season, Byrd would not have had the surgery. With Byrd having back surgery now, he will be ready for training camp, which begins July 24th in West Virginia.
After stretching this morning, the Saints began working in position groups, then moved to team offense versus team defense. Our pros, Bobby Hebert and Hokie Gajan, give a few of the high points from today’s Saints OTA.
From the eyes of the Cajun Cannon
WR Robert Meachum made a nice play on the second snap of team drills. The veteran Wide Receiver took a handoff from QB Drew Brees on an end around play. “Meachum made a few nice plays this morning. He also had four catches,” said the Cajun Cannon Bobby Hebert.
Fellow wide receiver #88 Nick Toon had a few catches. “This is an important year for Toon. He really needs to have a very good training camp. And making plays during the OTAs is a good start.”
The Saints defense was very active this morning. DL Akiem Hicks batted down a ball on the first play of team drills. And two plays later, safety Rafael Bush stripped the ball out of WR Marques Colston’s hands while CB Patrick Robinson scooped up the loose ball.
“You can tell that the Saints defense is making an emphasis on creating turnovers. The defense did a good job of flying to the ball. But, there were a couple of missed opportunities on creating a few more turnovers.” Hebert said.
Veteran CB #27 Champ Bailey had a nice pass break-up that could have been picked off, and linebacker #58 Kyle Knox picked off a pass. Bailey broke up a pass from QB #7 Luke McCown.
And OLB #96 Chidera Uzo-Diribe recovered a fumble during team drills.
Another thing that caught Bobby's attention was the play-making abilities of running backs Travaris Cadet and Khiry Robinson. “They both catch the ball well with their hands coming out of the backfield.”
There are not many folks that have been associated with the Saints franchise for over 30 years. Former Saints FB, team scout and current Saints color analyst Hokie Gajan has been with the Saints since 1981.
Hokie says he uses Saints OTA’s as an opportunity to get familiar with the new players that are on the roster. “I get me a roster, and try and begin to memorize the newer players and which jersey number they are wearing,” Gajan said.
Hokie was impressed with a pass break-up that veteran CB Champ Bailey made. And Gajan was also impressed with the play of rookie running back Derrick Strozier. Strozier, who played at Tulane, is trying to make the roster as a RB with the Saints.
“If you’re a guy that is considered a long shot to make a roster, you have to take advantage of every opportunity you can. If a player sticks out to us (media) at practice, they are sticking out to the coaches as well.”
Hokie went on to say that the coaches get a more in-depth and up close look at the players when the staff breaks down film. “The coaches are looking for all the little things and details that players are instructed to do. They want to make sure that the players are lined up exactly where they are supposed to be, they have to be in the right place at the right time. And the players have to make plays.”
Hokie said that he likes the fact that the Saints are going away for a few weeks for training camp. “Going away eliminates a lot of distractions. By being away from home, players can focus more on football. And I believe that team comraderie is formed and the players get more comfortable with each other.”