Saints Offense: Thumbs up and down at Saints Camp

The Saints' offensive competition for roster spots is heating up as the team heads into their second week of training camp in full pads.
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The New Orleans Saints head into their second week of NFL training camp. Like every team, the Saints will have to base their roster decisions based solely on these practice performances thanks to the cancellation of offseason team activities and preseason games because of Covid-19 concerns. Some players have already stood out, whether in team drills or one-on-one performances. Stars like QB Drew Brees, RB Alvin Kamara, and WR Michael Thomas have been sharp from the start, and help form a New Orleans offense that is one of the league's best. Here are some of the team’s other offensive players that have made an early camp impression.

THUMBS UP

BENNIE FOWLER, WR

Credit: WVUE - Edwin Goode, Videographer/Photographer, August 2020, New Orleans, LA; Saints Practice Facility

Credit: WVUE - Edwin Goode, Videographer/Photographer, August 2020, New Orleans, LA; Saints Practice Facility

The 29-Yr old Fowler has impressed teammates from the moment he arrived in New Orleans at the beginning of the month. He's developed almost immediate chemistry with quarterbacks Drew Brees and Jameis Winston. A six-year NFL veteran and former teammate of Emmanuel Sanders with the Denver Broncos, the 6'1 212-Lb Fowler plays physically and has good downfield speed. Both traits have been on display several times through camp thus far, and he is staking an early claim to win the Number 3 WR spot.

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THUMBS DOWN

ANDRUS PEAT, LG

Jan 13, 2019; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints offensive guard Andrus Peat (75) lines up against the Philadelphia Eagles during the third quarter of a NFC Divisional playoff football game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY

Jan 13, 2019; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints offensive guard Andrus Peat (75) lines up against the Philadelphia Eagles during the third quarter of a NFC Divisional playoff football game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY

This evaluation is not for Peat's performance, but because he has spent little time on the field. He suffered a thumb injury, which will sideline him for a few weeks. While the injury isn't severe, being out of the lineup will not allow the New Orleans offensive line to gain much continuity before the season opener. As a player, the 26-Yr old Peat will be fine, and an important part of the Saints' offensive success. The offensive line is also a veteran group that has played together but will break in a new piece in rookie 1st round pick Cesar Ruiz at either C or RG.

THUMBS UP

TRE'QUAN SMITH, WR

Credit: WVUE - Edwin Goode, Videographer/Photographer, August 2020, New Orleans, LA; Saints Practice Facility

Credit: WVUE - Edwin Goode, Videographer/Photographer, August 2020, New Orleans, LA; Saints Practice Facility

Refusing to be outdone by Fowler, Smith has made several spectacular plays of his own early in camp. However, this is not a first for the 24-Yr old wideout after having very good outings in each of his first two preseasons. The third-year receiver must now show that he can translate that success into the regular season, where he has been inconsistent and often disappeared over long stretches. New Orleans coaches have high expectations of Smith coming into 2020, and he has looked terrific out of the slot after being used mostly outside up to this point.

THUMBS DOWN

BACKUP OTs

Credit: WVUE - Edwin Goode, Videographer/Photographer, August 2020, New Orleans, LA; Saints Practice Facility

Credit: WVUE - Edwin Goode, Videographer/Photographer, August 2020, New Orleans, LA; Saints Practice Facility

The Saints starting OT tandem of Ryan Ramczyk and Terron Armstead is the best in the league and capable of silencing the NFL's best pass rushers. Their backups have done little to inspire confidence in the team's depth here during team drills. Second-year OT Ethan Greenidge has been the most consistent of a shaky group and has taken reps with the starters when Ramczyk sat out two practices. The unit struggled to protect Brees and Winston in passing drills, creating some concerns about the quality of depth if Armstead or Ramczyk were to miss time.

THUMBS UP

TOMMY STEVENS, TE

Credit: WVUE - Edwin Goode, Videographer/Photographer, August, 2020, New Orleans, LA; Saints Practice Facility

Credit: WVUE - Edwin Goode, Videographer/Photographer, August, 2020, New Orleans, LA; Saints Practice Facility

No disrespect to rookie 3rd round pick TE Adam Trautman, who has had a pleasant start to camp, but Stevens is one of the early training camp darlings. A 7th round pick who played QB at Mississippi State, Stevens has drawn comparisons to New Orleans star Taysom Hill because of his versatility and athleticism. The Saints moved Stevens to TE to better use his athletic skills, and he has earned praise from Brees, several teammates, and Head Coach Sean Payton for how quickly he’s learning the position. 

Stevens still has an uphill battle to earn a roster spot at a TE position with Pro Bowler Jared Cook, Trautman, and veteran Josh Hill, who is currently sidelined by injury. With Hill out, Stevens has taken advantage of the extra reps and is developing quickly. If he continues to impress, he could force the coaches to find a place on the active roster to start the year, just as Taysom Hill did in 2017.