Heat casualties & injury update: After leaving practice early yesterday with heat-related issues LB Curtis Lofton, WR Courtney Roby, and OL Jermon Bushrod all returned to the practice field. RB Darren Sproles (Knee) WR Adrian Arrington (knee), CB Marquis Johnson (knee), and DT Turk McBride (ankle) did not practice.
Dropsy’s: The Saints offense hasn’t had their way so far with the defense in training camp, and today was no different. However, it’s hard to move the football with receivers dropping catchable passes. Just about every receiver had their turn at it today. Colston dropped a pass…heck, even Lance dropped one. That’s a little out of character, but I think the heat is really becoming a factor for the players.
Tight windows: Several of the passes thrown by Saints quarterbacks are “contested,” which means defensive backs and linebackers are getting a hand close to or on the ball. Several Saints defenders batted passes away from Brees, Daniel, Canfield, and McCown. Linebacker Jonathan Casillas continues to impress with another interception of Drew Brees. I wouldn’t get too concerned with the interceptions Brees is throwing in training camp. He threw a lot in the 2009 training camp, and we all know how that season turned out. Brees is testing the defense, feeling his way around the D, and taking more chances in practice than he would in a game.
After practice, Drew said he knows this team has all the tools, but: "The mentality we have is; we know we're a contender in this league, but we have to go out and prove it every day."
Free Payton: One of the highlights of the day was a small airplane circling the practice field pulling a banner reading, “Free Payton.” The players noticed it and at one point Safety Roman Harper joked, “I paid for that! I paid for them to fly over here with that.” Now that’s not true, but none the less it provided a light-hearted moment. The people behind the flying banner plan on flying over all over the city at random until the NFL releases Sean Payton from his season-long suspension.
Kicking battle: Twenty-two year veteran John Kasay and five-year veteran Garret Hartley continue to compete for the kicking position. Each player looked sharp during the field goal portion of practice, booming kicks from distances of 42 yards. Clearly Hartley has the stronger leg, but the crafty left-footed Kasay knows exactly how much to put on his kicks. I expect this race to go down to the final cuts. The coaches don’t seem to be in any hurry to name their guy.
Rookie hazing: It happens across the NFL during training camp; rookies getting hazed by the veterans, as sort of a rite of passage. Today, several Saints veterans taped rookies Johny Thomas (safety) and Kadarron Anderson (linebacker) to a goal post and doused them with ice-water. The reason? They didn’t “know their role.” The rookies took it well; it’s healthy for team-building in environments like this. As a former Marine I can relate, I remember getting hazed a bit, and it was always positive. The veterans made it clear to the “rookies” on the team to use teamwork to get them out of the taped constraints. The rookies all ran over to the goal post and freed their teammates.