Kristian: Saints put emphasis on turnovers and communication
Here's what I thought were the key takeaways from Wednesday's mini-camp.
The 12th man: I’m not talking about Seattle’s vaunted “12th man” home field advantage, but the crowd noise system used by the Saints to simulate a hostile and raucous road environment. The Saints used that system today in mini-camp. Typically the crowd noise simulator is used during the regular season, or late in the pre-season. It’s a huge speaker system that creates a similar noise level that the Saints would encounter on the road or at home when they’re on defense. “It really is the reality of our game; obviously it changes the dynamics with communications on both sides of the ball. We felt like we wanted to implement it here, and will do it again next week during organized team activities,” Saints coach Sean Payton explained. We’ve talked about the emphasis on forcing turnovers on defense this off-season; the Saints are clearly placing a bigger emphasis on communication in hostile and loud environments on both offense and defense.
PHOTO GALLERY: Saints mini-camp day two
Oh Goody: Saints Center Jonthan Goodwin re-united with the team last week after three seasons in San Francisco. I caught up with Goodwin, who admitted the competition at center between him and Tim Lelito is very much an open one. “That’s my understanding, so far from what I have seen from the coaches, that’s what I believe... either way, we’ll have a good player at that position,” Goodwin said. Lelito and Goodwin are alternating reps with the first team offense during camp. Goodwin told me he was able to recall a lot of what he had to learn a few years ago when he was with the Saints offense.
Offensive Observations: Saints wide receiver Robert Meachem looks like he is moving much better this off-season than he did a year ago. “I was never banged up (last year), I don’t know why everyone keeps saying that. I am moving better though. I think I might be faster than I was. It just comes with experience though, you’re not thinking as much, and I know what Drew wants on certain plays,” Meachem told me.
Undrafted rookie free agent Brandon Coleman had a rough day. Coleman dropped two consecutive passes in team drills, but bounced back with a couple of nice grabs later in the practice period. You can see the intriguing element to Coleman's game, and it’s obviously his size. He’s a huge target and quarterbacks love throwing the ball his way. “Sure, you love the big target if you’re a QB, because you have a higher margin for error with your throws; but if he can’t catch the easy ones, that won’t matter,” explained Saints color analyst Hokie Gajan.
READ MORE: Deke: Saints D brings the heat at mini-camp
Defensive Observations: The Saints secondary continues to get their hands on a lot of footballs, batting the ball away, and punching the ball out. It’s been a common theme this off-season for a turnover-starved unit from a season ago. I know they’re in shorts in helmets, and they all look fast but it looks like the windows for the quarterbacks to throw the football have gotten even smaller. “That’s also just familiarity with the scheme. We can play faster not thinking and digesting the scheme so much now that we’re in the defense for over a year,” said cornerback Keenan Lewis.