Byrd of Prey: Saints safety Jarius Byrd has been cleared for contact and was a full participant in practice this afternoon at Saints headquarters. Byrd says he plans to play Saturday night against the Indianapolis Colts in the preseason. Byrd ran with the first team unit in team drills, and made his presence felt early with a solid collision in the middle of the field on a running play with Mark Ingram; Byrd clearly won the battle. After the play the two players exchanged high fives. “He just knows how to play the game, you can’t teach the instincts this guy has. Byrd’s going to have a tremendous impact, I’m really anxious to see him in live action,” said the Cajun Cannon Bobby Hebert. “Now it’s just looking ahead to what we have to accomplish, not only for this game, but for the rest of the season,” Byrd said after being cleared for full contact.
Cadet’s Camp: Saints running back Travaris Cadet is quietly having his best camp of three in a Black and Gold uniform. He’s a much more polished runner and has had a number of big runs in camp, and ripped off a nifty 20 plus yarder today in team drills. The Saints are going to keep four running backs on this roster, and Cadet is closest thing to Darren Sproles. He’s not going to be as dynamic, but will contribute in the passing game and some in the running game. I can tell you from watching him at field level, he’s probably faster than he looks and has ability to erase angles from would-be tacklers.
Tooned Down: Wide receiver Nick Toon was the talk of camp early in West Virginia, but has cooled off in the two weeks. Toon looked like a virtual lock to make the final roster, but now I’m not so sure he’s there. Toon has been leapfrogged by Joe Morgan at the fourth wide receiver spot, and is in a battle with Robert Meachem if the team keeps five at the position. Toon had a few miscommunications today with Drew Brees on a few plays.
Up and Down: I reported yesterday that undrafted rookie free agent wide receiver Brandon Coleman had his best day of camp by far. Sean Payton acknowledged the growth he’s seen from Coleman in the last week, and was looking forward to see if he could build on the momentum he’s building. But Coleman had one of his down days in practice today, still struggling at times to catch the football.
Cooks and Lewis Sidelined: Cornerback Keenan Lewis missed his second consecutive day of practice still rehabbing a foot injury. Lewis worked with the training staff during practice today and was moving around pretty well. I don’t expect him to play this weekend, and it looks like he’ll be fine in time for the regular season opener against the Falcons. WR Brandin Cooks also missed practice still experiencing some lingering effects from a stomach bug that held him out of practice yesterday. Payton said Cooks still had a fever today and he held him out, and Cooks should return tomorrow.