Derek Carr Looks Sharp At Second Saints Minicamp Practice

The Saints offense had another good outing overall on Wednesday at minicamp, and we saw a change at who backed up Derek Carr as well.
Joe Woods teaching Saints corners drills at Saints minicamp.
Joe Woods teaching Saints corners drills at Saints minicamp. / John Hendrix
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The Saints were back in action on Wednesday for their second day of mandatory minicamp. New Orleans is getting in their final work before a long break until training camp in California, which starts July 24. Here's all of our notes and observations from the day, and if you need to get caught up, you can read up on Tuesday here.

ATTENDANCE

The biggest change from yesterday saw Alontae Taylor not in attendance for the Saints. Dennis Allen said after practice that he's dealing with a minor oblique injury and will not be present for Thursday's session. However, he should be ready to go for training camp.

Also not spotted today was Faion Hicks, Nephi sewell, Ryan Ramczyk, Juwan Johnson, Tommy Hudson, Tanoh Kpassagnon, Jack Heflin and Chase Young. Stanley Morgan Jr. worked off to the side without a helmet, and Bryan Bresee returned to practice. Kool-Aid McKinstry also did some work off to the side with Matt Rhea, but participated in stretch and individual drills.

STARTING LOOKS AND MORE

No changes from Tuesday, but for those who are new to these, the offensive line was (left to right): Taliese Fuaga, Nick Saldiveri, Erik McCoy, Cesar Ruiz and Trevor Penning. Defensively, the Saints ran a few different looks, but mainly had a nickel defense out there with Ugo Amadi in the slot. The line was Carl Granderson, Khalen Saunders, Nathan Shepherd and Cam Jordan. Linebackers were Pete Werner and Demario Davis, with Paulson Adebo and Marshon Lattimore on the outside and Tyrann Mathieu and Johnathan Abram at safety. When the Saints did some three-man fronts during walkthroughs, they had Bryan Bresee in the middle and then Kendal Vickers with the other group.

The Saints worked on kick returns today, and here's the rotations for the two main units.

  • Return Unit 1: Cedrick Wilson Jr., D'Marco Jackson, Johnathan Abram, J.T. Gray, Will Harris, Khaleke Hudson, Equanimeous St. Brown, Adam Prentice, Isaiah Foskey
  • Return Unit 2: Bub Means, Anfernee Orji, Pete Werener, Jordan Mims, Ugo Amadi, Willie Gay Jr., Payton Turner, Monty Rice, Kyle Sheets

Returner combos were Taysom Hill and Rashid Shaheed and Jermaine Jackson and Jamaal Williams. One thing that Darren Rizzi stressed during the drill was that the right returner makes the call for the ball while it's up in the air. We also saw some early trickery on the returns, whether it be Hill throwing a lateral across the field to Shaheed and a fake reverse with Jackson and Williams. Jackson has some explosiveness to him, and there's some big chances for him to be a big returner.

7s (1st Group) - Paulson Adebo, Marshon Lattimore, Willie Gay Jr., Demario Davis, Pete Werner, Tyrann Mathieu, Johnathan Abram

7s (2nd Group) - Rezjohn Wright, Shemar Jean-Charles, Ugo Amadi, D'Marco Jackson, Anfernee Orji, J.T. Gray, Will Harris

QUARTERBACK CAROUSEL

Spencer Rattler got work as No. 2 on the day. Dennis Allen said the backup quarterback position is going to battle out throughout all training camp, so be prepared for that. Here's how each quarterback fared on Wednesday.

  • Derek Carr: 12/14, TD (5/6 in 7s, 1/2 in team, 6/6 End of Game)
  • Spencer Rattler: 6/7, INT (5/5 in 7s, 1/2 in team)
  • Jake Haener: 4/6, INT (3/5 in 7s, 1/1 in team)
  • Nathan Peterman: 1/3 (1/2 in 7s, 0/1 in team)

CARR SHARP IN COMEBACK SCENARIO: Derek Carr was excellent in the final portion of team drills, and he was the only one who got the reps. The situation was that the Saints were trailing 28-23 with 1:30 to go. Carr led a drive that saw him complete all six of his passes, including the two-point conversion to Rashid Shaheed. He completed two to Alvin Kamara, with the go-ahead touchdown going to him on the wheel route from about 25 yards out with Carl Granderson being the closest defender. The first pass was a well-executed screen play. In between that and the TD, Carr targeted Taysom Hill three straight times, and Hill made an outstanding catch near the sideline with Ugo Amadi providing strong coverage.

WHAT HAPPENED ON HAENER'S PICK: Haener was the first to get picked off on the day during 7s, and Millard Bradford made the play on the ball for what would likely have been a pick six. Dallin Holker was the intended receiver on the play, running a dig route.

WHAT HAPPENED ON RATTLER'S PICK: Rattler's interception came in team at the hands of Marshon Lattimore. After two running plays, he tried Bub Means in the intermediate middle part of the field. The throw was a little high and Lattimore jumped up and won the battle against Means to get the ball cleanly for the pick. That got the entire Saints defense hyped and it was a big moment for Lattimore.

BEST THROW: One of the best hookups of the day came via Nathan Peterman. He fit the ball into an extremely tight window during 7s to Equanimeous St. Brown working against Paulson Adebo. Adebo was in pretty good positioning, but the out route hookup worked from the Peterman throw.

LAGNIAPPE

Charlie Smyth ended up going 5-of-6 today on his kicks. He missed the first one, an extra point, which went wide left. It wasn't that good of a boot, and it's unclear on whether it was the operation or something else. However, he rebounded to hit all of his kicks up until 46 yards.

Matt Hayball handled punting duties today. He had a mixed bag. There were two punts we didn't get timed (first and third), but his times were: 4.47, 3.72, 3.50 (shank left), 4.79, 4.41, 4.66, 3.63, 4.09, 4.00, 4.22.

Dennis Allen said the Saints reached out to the 49ers for joint practices. He mentioned that Kyle Shanahan was excited about the concept of going up against the Saints defense.

Allen said that Derek Carr is getting ‘more and more comfortable’ with the new Saints offensive system each day, and it's showing. He's looking sharp.

I'm noticing more than ever that the Saints offensive line and quarterbacks are doing work during other team drills. This is something that looks intentional with Klint Kubiak, Andrew Janocko and John Benton. There just seems to be more of an emphasis on it early on, which is a good sign.

Allen was asked about several individual players and their growth, and he summed things up pretty easily. He said that the Saints will get a better evaluation of everyone when players have pads on and the team plays real football.

A lot of Saints rookies are also working on the field still after practice. That included Mason Tipton, Bub Means, Jermaine Jackson and Kyle Sheets with Nathan Peterman out there. Matt Hayball and Charlie Smyth also got some individual work in and Rico Payton got some individual coaching from Joe Woods afterwards.

Just a general observation, but the Saints did some special teams work on their field goal unit that saw Charlie Smyth and Lou Hedley come to the line after an audible. Players like Erik McCoy, Lucas Patrick and Cesar Ruiz split out. It's unclear on the context behind this, but just something we don't usually see.

I really like the burst Mason Tipton shows off the line. He's someone I can't wait to see more of in training camp.

Chris Olave was in a non-contact red jersey against for team drills today, and he'll probably stay in that for Thursday.

Foster Moreau looks considerably bulkier these days, and he's been very active in this offense. I don't think it's just because Juwan Johnson is out of the picture, but he's been used a lot more than we saw last year in camp. He finished out the day with six catches on seven targets.

We saw another Taysom Hill toss play during team with Adam Prentice as the lead blocker. Credit Demario Davis and Isaiah Foskey for a good run stop on the play, but the point is Hill continues to get actual running back plays.

Marshon Lattimore, Ugo Amadi and Paulson Adebo were some of the players to stay out here after practice ended doing some work. Kool-Aid McKinstry was also around with them, but not in uniform.

Charlie Smyth has a leg cannon, as we've pointed out previously, but it's worth noting that he hit a kick after practice from 68 yards. He almost hit another from 70 yards. Dennis Allen said that there's real competition for a majority of jobs on the team when asked if there’s a Saints kicker competition, but did say Smyth has a stronger leg than Blake Grupe. Smyth just needs to work on and focus on being more accurate, but you see growth.

Cedrick Wilson and Equanimeous St. Brown may not make a ton of headlines, but the veterans are making plays out there. We've pointed out that Wilson has been a main staple in the slot for the first-team offense, and St. Brown has made some really nice catches the first two days. Dennis Allen said that they're two players who have put their head down and gone to work, taking to coaching and getting buy-in.

Joe Woods said that while the Saints looked strong last year on paper with the 10th-ranked pass defense, he said that the explosive plays area fell off and that it's an area that they have to be better at.

Woods also talked about Alontae Taylor and said that he feels like he could have coached him better last year for the slot transition. “I know he understands it better," Woods said on this season. He said Taylor is much further along this year and part of the difference in learning the slot was the coverage aspect and assignment defending against the run.

Woods mentioned that he's going to talk to Marshon Lattimore later Wednesday and didn't want to speak for him, but said that he has a lot to prove. This is what we keep hearing and see out of Lattimore. We aren't worried about him this year.

Some individual players who stood out today for various reasons included: Ugo Amadi (PBU vs. Foster Moreau in 7s), Chris Olave (connected with Carr on a deep middle crosser in 7s, beating Shemar Jean-Charles in coverage), Anfernee Orji (sack on Jack Haener in team), Isaiah Stallbird (PBU on a Haener pass, short slant intended for Jacob Kibodi), Shemar Jean-Charles (PBU vs. Jermaine Jackson on a Peterman throw, curl route), Rico Payton (PBU vs. Equanimeous St. Brown on a Haener throw, slant route), Trajan Jeffcoat (coverage sack on Nathan Peterman in team), Lawrence Johnson (downed a Hayball punt at the 1-yard-line).


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John Hendrix

JOHN HENDRIX

I officially started covering the New Orleans Saints & other NFL topics in 2011. My work has been featured on various outlets over the years. I worked closely with Skyhorse Publishing in Fall 2018 to update the book, Tales From the New Orleans Saints Sidelines, which filled in all Saints material from the 2013-2017 seasons. Prior to joining Saints News Network, I served as the Managing Editor of SB Nation's Canal Street Chronicles for 3.5 years, and before that with FanSided's Who Dat Dish as the Managing Editor for several years. I have also had experiences of being a freelance Saints reporter for The Sun Herald in Biloxi, MS and a contributing writer for WDSU, a local NBC TV station in New Orleans. I have appeared on a vast amount of TV and Radio shows, both nationally and locally. For tips, comments, or suggestions, please contact me at johnhendrix@saintsnews.net