Saints camp Day 3 observations: Tough defense, 'sloppy' offense and 3 unsung stars –

Saints camp Day 3 observations: Tough defense, 'sloppy' offense and 3 unsung stars -
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Day 3 of New Orleans Saints training camp featured some run-heavy play-calling, and a little too much sloppy offensive play for coach Dennis Allen’s liking.

The team practiced for about two hours outdoors at the Ochsner Sports Performance Center, and Allen said he thought the heat might’ve started getting to his team, as well.

Here’s the pertinent information, the highlights, and, in some cases, the lowlights.


The following players did not practice Friday: tight ends Taysom Hill and Juwan Johnson, receiver Rashid Shaheed, offensive lineman Sage Doxtater, safety Tyrann Mathieu, linebacker Pete Werner, and defensive ends Tanoh Kpassagnon and Marcus Davenport.

Allen said Hill is dealing with a rib injury, and could miss some time.

Davenport, Werner, Shaheed and Johnson all worked off to the side with members of the team’s athletic training staff.

Tough day for passers

As Allen alluded to, Saints defenders got their hands on quite a few passes Friday.

Paulson Adebo drove hard on Jameis Winston’s first pass attempt of a 7-on-7 drill — a sideline route intended for Marquez Callaway — and broke it up.

That was a theme throughout practice. Linebacker Andrew Dowell disrupted back-to-back Ian Book throws, and safeties Daniel Sorenson and Justin Evans also deflected passes.

But the offense did not help its cause, either. Running back Tony Jones dropped a pair of easy catches in the flat, and there were a handful of off-target throws that were either a result of miscommunication or poor timing.

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Winston completed only two of his six attempts in full-team drills, both underneath and over the middle. Andy Dalton went 3 for 6 and Book went 2 for 5. All together, the quarterbacks went 7 for 17 in 11-on-11 scenarios.

Lineup notes

The Saints appear to be taking it easy on right tackle Ryan Ramczyk after he endured a significant injury for the first time in his pro career last season. Promising second-year tackle Landon Young handled the first-team reps during full-team drills Friday.

Allen said after practice that James Hurst is the team’s starting left tackle, hinting that first-round pick Trevor Penning would have to earn his spot there. Hurst and Penning mostly split snaps with the first-team unit Friday.

Michael Thomas has not yet progressed toward competitive situations, staying on the sideline for both the seven-on-seven and full-team periods. Callaway filled his spot Friday.

Safety Marcus Maye was present for the start of practice, but did not line up in the full-team situations. The Saints used P.J. Williams and J.T. Gray as their starting safeties Friday.

Three stars

LB Eric Wilson: Wilson made the most of Pete Werner’s absence, stepping into the weakside linebacker spot and making a handful of plays against the run that caused linebackers coach Michael Hodges to sprint in Wilson’s direction and yell praise.

RB Abram Smith: The Saints were still practicing without pads, and it’s hard to get a true read on running plays when there’s no contact. But even in this incomplete picture, Smith showed great burst as a runner, getting downhill in a hurry and ripping off what appeared to be a few nice gains.

WR Kirk Merritt: The local product continues to do something just about every day to stand out. Thursday, it was a toe-tap catch near the sideline. Friday, he found a soft spot in the zone and accelerated through the defense after hauling in a Dalton pass during a seven-on-seven period. He has an uphill climb to the roster, but there’s been a lot to like so far.

Up next

The Saints will hold their first open-to-the-public practice at 9 a.m. Saturday. The team is scheduled to practice for 2½ hours in shells.

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