D-E-F-E-N-S-E: Through three Saints practices that I’ve witnessed this preseason (this morning’s minicamp and two OTA’s,) you cannot categorically say the defense has improved, but you can say they’re going to be aggressive.
“Let it eat,” Rob Ryan says.
The defense had their moments in day 1 of minicamp. In red-zone drills they forced three turnovers (2 interceptions, and 1 fumble.) Ryan had some high praise for his secondary: “This secondary is extremely talented, probably the most talented group I have been a part of.”
Notes: Rookie Rod Sweeting came up with a red zone interception today. Keenan Lewis missed practice today after being hospitalized with stomach pains. Lewis is expected to be fine.
Who Dat Nation: 1,236 fans were out at Saints camp to watch the black and gold go through day 1 of Mini Camp. The players are clearly energized by the fans. They practice harder, striving for that big play or run, that extra five yards to impress the fans. It brings out some really good competition…and it also brings out some hecklers.
After Mark Ingram dropped a short pass a fan chirped, “You gotta catch that Ingram, we need a big year out of you!” Boy, if that’s not an understatement. Even the media is subject to criticism from the packed house. “Kristian, what’s up with that pink shirt you are wearing today? It’s not breast cancer awareness month.” I loved it. While it isn’t breast cancer awareness month, it’s still fun to wear pink.
Rookie Report: OLB Rufus Johnson might just be the most intriguing rooking this season. Johnson was picked by the Saints in the 6th round out of Tarelton State this past April and has flashed some pass rushing ability in camp. “He’s a big kid, He’s a young kid. He’s got a lot to learn, we’re changing his position. He’s got a lot on his plate. Talent-wise and physicality, this kid is going to be good,” Ryan said.
Kenny Stills (wide receiver) out of Oklahoma has been a virtual non-factor in camp so far. Stills was selected in the 5th round this year. First round pick safety Kenny Vaccaro has been impressive. He’s mixed it up with several Saints wide receivers in coverage. Vaccaro won a one-on-one battle with Marques Colston, with a nice pass break-up team in drills. Offensive tackle Terron Armstead is hard to get a handle on because they’re not in pads. However, you can see he’s got some real quickness to him. I’m also going to reserve comment on John Jenkins (DT) simply because he’s on the interior defensive line, and without pads it’s really tough to gauge his process.
Terron Armstead didn't have a helmet on--only a cap standing with other players watching. Charles Brown did the Tackle position mostly--but again hard to tell how well. Did Armstead have a brace or something on his calf? Didn't seem to participate.