Saints practice recap at Yulman Stadium – (CSC) Saints News

Saints News Network | CSC | New Orleans Saints

Saints News Network |  | New Orleans Saints The sun wasn’t blazing, the energy was high, and Ted
Ginn Jr. was feeling the hip hop music. Here are some notes from
the Saints practice at Tulane Sunday night.

Sunday night, the Saints
team took to the field at Yulman Stadium for a two hour evening
practice open to the public.

Saints News Network | IMG_4184 | New Orleans Saints
Monica Charlton

Fans of all ages and types came out in droves to
support the Black and Gold. Some even donned their Sunday best
usually reserved only for game days.

Saints News Network | IMG_4188 | New Orleans Saints
Monica Charlton

Drew
Brees
entered the field before anyone else and took
himself through a 10 minute warmup consisting of jumping jacks,
jump squats, twists, and stretches. It’s easy to see why he has
been in the league so long. He is simply willing to work harder and
longer than anyone else to achieve greatness on the football
field.

The ball came out Brees’ hand
noticeably faster than out of any other quarterback wearing a red
jersey. Even Brees’ jersey was a darker hue of red than the others
because he was sweating his ass off, and at 39, he still looked
like one of the fittest athletes on a field of mostly
20somethings.

The first thing I
noticed after the other players came out and began warming up was
that this was a well oiled machine. Every drill had purpose.
Everyone knew their role. No time was wasted and reps were
maximized. When third year running Jonathan Williams
fumbled the ball during agility drills, the running backs coach
made him repeat it until he completed the drill without losing the
ball.

Although I was sad to hear
about Brandon
Coleman
getting cut, Saints rookie wide receiver Te’Quan
Smith has squashed any of my worries for this season’s receiver
group. He wasn’t able to convert any highlight catches, but every
one was tightly contested.

He even
caught a deep pass in the end zone from a scrambling Brees, but the
ball was popped out of his hands by a defender’s helmet. When Smith
did catch the ball, he was tough to tackle. It’s early, but the
Saints may have scored their next quality draft pick. Go Jeff
Ireland!

If Coleman
hadn’t already failed his physical, I would have said Ted
Ginn Jr.
should be be cut instead. Following a resurgent
career year, Ginn reminded us all that his hands are still about as
good at catching footballs as pinecone mittens. I counted three big
drops, though one was maybe thrown too low for a decent chance at
it.

Another dark horse receiver was
rookie Keith
Kirkwood
out of Temple University. Brees targeted Kirkwood
often and the two hooked up for two touchdowns, after which
Kirkwood emphatically spiked the football. Kirkwood appeared to be
a willing student in addition by standing next to Brees on the
sideline and asking him questions.

Saints News Network | IMG_4224 | New Orleans Saints
Monica Charlton

Rookie running back Boston
Scott
is about my height (5’7”), but his stature didn’t
stop him from standing out among giant men. He made a freakishly
athletic cut in in special teams kickoff drills, and later he took
a handoff, bounced off a defender to the outside, and sped to he
corner of the end zone for a touchdown. He and Shane
Vereen
appeared more than capable of softening the blow
from Mark
Ingram
’s four game suspension.

It was also worth note that Taysom
Hill
, not Tom
Savage
, received most of the second team snaps. At one
point while escaping the pocket, Hill
took off downfield like a USFL era Steve Young and showed ff some
serious wheels Saints fans don’t see often from a traditional
pocket quarterback like Drew
Brees
.

The true stars of
practice, however, were the defense. Linebacker Craig Robertson and
defensive backs Sharrod
Neasman
and Marston Lattimore nearly intercepted passes
from either Brees or Tom
Savage
, and defensive end Cam Jordan appeared to force a
sack on Brees as well.

On two
different occasions, the entire defense ran the length of the field
to the opposite end zone to pose for a group pic following
interceptions by cornerback P.J. Williams and safety Marcus
Williams
. Following the diving interception by Marcus
Williams
, a still competitive Michael
Thomas
ran over to snatch the intercepted ball right
back.

Saints News Network | IMG_4225 | New Orleans Saints
Monica Charlton

It was also powerful to see owner Gayle Benson enter
the field without her husband Tom. She spent more than 15 minutes I
would say talking with fans and signing memorabilia for
them.

Saints News Network | IMG_4219 | New Orleans Saints
Monica Charlton

Following practice, players hung around for
interviews and autograph signings. I got to hear a little bit from
defensive end Alex
Okafor
who has returned from an Achilles tear. He was
definitely excited for a change in the monotony of training camp on
Airline Drive.

“You know, camp, you
got the same exact schedule every single day. So it’s absolutely a
grind, so anytime you get a chance to come out here with a change
of scenery, change of environment, brings a little more energy. A
little more competition.”

When asked
if he was surprised at the speed of his recovery Okafor
responded, “Um no, not at all. Ever since I got hurt, talking to
the doctors, talking to other guys that have rehabbed it. If you
stay on top of your treatments, stay on top of your rehab, they
tell you you don’t lose anything from it.”

<

p
id=”nv8QRZ”>Bobby Hebert asked Okafor if the coaches had him on
a pitch count of snaps as he recovered. “We haven’t even talked
about that. Right now we just workin’ one day at a time. I’m still
workin’ on my pitch count in practice.” Another reporter asked if
he had experienced any setbacks. “No no no. It feels great so far.
Everything has been smooth. No setbacks. I feel great.”

Head coach Sean Payton echoed Okafor’s
confidence in his ability to return to form and stated the player’s
due diligence as the main reason why. “Alex has been here 24/7.”
Payton also commented on the stellar play of the defense, though
one could gather he doesn’t LOVE the group pic moments. “A little
bit of sarcasm in their celebration, but I’ll take it.”

Finally, Payton gushed over the maturity of
safety Marcus
Williams
whose missed tackle ended the Saints playoff
hopes last season. “His growth and his ability is outstanding. He’s
a tremendous worker and he’s smart.” From the way Williams
has responded since that play, I totally agree.

The field was now almost empty, but one player
remained in the far corner of the field still signing autographs.
Number 9 showed up first and left the field last. After several
years of mediocrity, the Saints feel like contenders once more, but
some things, like Brees’ leading by example never
change.

 

Read the Canal Street Chronicles article: www.canalstreetchronicles.com/2018/8/5/17654860/saints-practice-recap-yulman-stadium-drew-brees-sean-payton-keith-kirkwood-alex-okafor

#SAINTSNEWS #SAINTS #NOLA #CSC

 

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