Thud: The Saints finally had the pads on for today’s practice at the Greenbrier. No more shorts and a game of touch. Helmets were cracking, and the pads were popping in 9-on-7 running game drills today. The O-Line got the better of the D-line in this drill, pushing the big guys up front back and creating enough cracks for the running backs to scoot through for positive yardage.
Linebacker Junior Galette and Offensive Tackle Zach Strief exchanged a couple of words after one rep that led to Strief pushing Galette after the whistle. I found it pretty interesting that Sean Payton was keeping a close eye on the developments in the running game drill. Typically he’ll watch the one-on-one DB’s vs WR drills. You could hear the coaches reminding the defensive players “Thud up, put a thud on em and let them run!”
Brandin Cooks vs Patrick Robinson: In the WR vs DB drill, rookie wide out Brandin Cooks matched up against CB Patrick Robinson on one particular play and Cooks beat Robinson by a mile. Robinson missed the jam on the line of scrimmage, and Cooks just flew by him for a deep ball from Brees. Nick Toon also beat safety Rafael Bush on a deep ball in one-on-one drills. The receivers have the advantage in this drill, and it’s hard to tell if a player would have gotten that far open simply because there is so much ground for the defensive back to cover. Rookie WR’s Brandon Coleman (Rutgers) and Seantavious Jones (Valdosta State) received high praise from coach Sean Payton after practice “They’re both doing well, they’re big target areas for our QB's, and we like that.”
Turnovers: Forcing more turnovers has been a focus point for the Saints this off-season, and we’re getting a real taste of it now. Linebacker Ramon Humber reeled in the first interception of camp in 7-on-7 drills today. Luke McCown tried to drop one over his head, but Humber leapt into the air snagged the pass for the INT. “That was a great play from a linebacker. Here is the thing, McCown threw a good ball, Humber just made a nice adjustment and came down with it,” explained the Cajun Cannon Bobby Hebert. Later, in the team portion of practice, CB Champ Bailey stripped the ball out of FB Erik Lorig’s hands and it was scooped up by safety Rafael Bush.
Injuries: Wide reciever Robert Meachem missed practice today with what Payton described as a “stiff back.” WR Kenny Stills (quad) also did not practice today. Defensive lineman John Jenkins, offensive lineman Tavon Rooks and safety Jairus Byrd remain on the PUP list. Jenkins and Byrd both did side work working on conditioning and some light non-contact football drills.