Thursday marked the final practice of the week for the Saints, as it was held indoors initially and concluded outside. The Saints will make their final preparations for Saturday's preseason game against the Ravens, and there's plenty of things to pay attention to when the two meet. Here's a look at how training camp practice No. 13 looked for the black and gold.
Attendance and Transactions
The Saints were missing Tre'Quan Smith, Jalen McCleskey, Pete Werner, P.J. Williams, Malcolm Jenkins, KeiVarae Russell, Alvin Kamara, Marcus Williams, Adonis Alexander, Quentin Poling, and Payton Turner.
For starters, it was good to see Ty Montgomery back so quickly after seeing him getting carted off during Wednesday's session. It goes to show you the nature of those type of injuries can't be assumed. Malcolm Roach, who also left early on Wednesday, was present and in full participation.
McCleskey was put on injured reserve due to a hamstring injury, and the Saints claimed defensive lineman R.J. McIntosh off of waivers from the Giants. As far as Alexander, he was spotted later in practice doing some separate, non-padded work. Sean Payton revealed that the injuries to Werner and Turner were not serious, but their status for Saturday is unknown.
Marcus Williams was also spotted, but it's the second day he's missed practice. Of the absences, the one that is really concerning is P.J. Williams. He's been out a good bit of time now, and we don't know anything yet regarding his status.
Both Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill looked good on the day, as Hill got the starting reps. It wouldn't be surprising to see Hill start in the first preseason game given how the rotation has gone for the Saints. Of course, we'll just see how it plays out. Of the two, it was Winston who had the better day in red zone drills and the bigger plays of the two.
Starting Rotation and Notes
It was another pretty normal day in the rotation on offense, minus Alvin Kamara. Here's what the starting lineup looked like.
- QB: Taysom Hill
- RB: Latavius Murray
- FB: Alex Armah
- WR: Deonte Harris, Marquez Callaway
- TE: Adam Trautman, Nick Vannett
- OL: Terron Armstead, Andrus Peat, Erik McCoy, Cesar Ruiz, Ryan Ramczyk
Sub Notes: Few surprises here, as Devonta Freeman, Ty Montgomery, Chris Hogan, Juwan Johnson, James Hurst, all worked with the first team offense.
The defense looked a lot a little different with some key members out in the back end, but they opened in nickel formation.
- DE: Cam Jordan, Marcus Davenport
- DT: Jalen Dalton, Malcolm Roach
- LB: Demario Davis, Kwon Alexander
- CB: Ken Crawley (left), Marshon Lattimore (right)
- Slot: C.J. Gardner-Johnson
- S: Bryce Thompson, J.T. Gray
Sub Notes: Plenty of looks with the first team defense, as Albert Huggins and Christian Ringo rotated in on the interior, while the Saints moved to a base 4-3 look that put in Kaden Ellis and Andrew Dowell alongside Demario Davis.
Dowell and Davis ended up being the linebacker tandem in nickel looks, which moved J.T. Gray up in the slot and Bryce Thompson to free safety. Ken Crawley and Paulson Adebo started at corner in one session, while C.J. Gardner-Johnson and J.T. Gray were the safeties. Grant Haley and Prince Amukamara were the second pair of corners.
All quarterbacks got a chance in this drill today. Here's how the matchups looked with each respective thrower, as well as the result and route. This was a lot closer to the goal line than we've normally seen, taking place around the 15-yard-line.
Jameis Winston (1/5)
- Chris Hogan vs. Paulson Adebo, incomplete - PBU in the end zone. Good coverage by Adebo
- Easop Winston Jr. vs. Grant Haley, complete - Touchdown fade right
- Tommylee Lewis vs. Ken Crawley, incomplete - Misfire to the post, looked like miscommunication
- Marquez Callaway vs. Marshon Lattimore, incomplete - Goal line try, hit Callaway in one hand, but couldn't come up with it
- Deonte Harris vs. Paulson Adebo, incomplete - Harris couldn't hang on to complete the catch
Taysom Hill (2/7)
- Deonte Harris vs. C.J. Gardner-Johnson, incomplete - Hill rolled right and it hit Harris in the hands
- Chris Hogan vs. Ken Crawley, incomplete - PBU
- Easop Winston Jr. vs. Brian Poole, complete - Touchdown slant
- Tommylee Lewis vs. Prince Amukamara, incomplete - Incomplete fade route
- Marquez Callaway vs. Marshon Lattimore, complete - Touchdown post route, one of Hill's best throws on the day
- Kawaan Baker vs. C.J. Gardner-Johnson, complete - Touchdown, another good throw by Hill
- Jake Lampman vs. Ken Crawley, incomplete - Overthrow
Trevor Siemian (1/4)
- Ty Montgomery vs. C.J. Gardner-Johnson, incomplete - Flag at the goal line for pass interference
- Lil'Jordan Humphrey vs. Brian Poole, incomplete - Fade end zone right, good coverage by Poole
- Kawaan Baker vs. Paulson Adebo, complete - Touchdown slant
- Jake Lampman vs. Grant Haley, incomplete - PBU short right
Ian Book (1/3)
- Ty Montgomery vs. Grant Haley, incomplete - Off the receiver's hands
- Lil'Jordan Humphrey vs. Paulson Adebo, incomplete - PBU slant and go
- Easop Winston Jr. vs. Grant Haley, complete - Touchdown corner route
One last thing to point out is that C.J. Gardner-Johnson actually played quarterback at the end of the drill to give Chris Hogan another chance. Marquez Callaway lined up against him. Hogan got in the end zone with the slant route. So, be confused.
Rhythm, Flow, and Observations
As we mentioned earlier, practice started indoors and later shifted outside. The offense switched back to white jerseys on the day, and practice flow was pretty normal. The quarterbacks and running backs worked on some basic out of the backfield route concepts, while the defensive backs were working on backpedaling and making catches.
The defensive line and linebackers were working on getting off blocks and making the tackle, while the receivers were working on back shoulder routes. The tight ends focused on blocking drills, the running backs worked on the gauntley, and the offensive line was working on some hand push and placement with each other with a medicine ball.
Eventually, we got the receivers paired up with the quarterbacks and then the entire specialist group. The normal flow shifted to 1-on-1's between cornerbacks and receivers, and then we had some kickoff work with both the kick return and kickoff team. This then moved to an 11-on-11 period followed by short yardage, punt simulation.
After going outdoors, we got some more 11-on-11 work, field goals, some red zone 11-on-11, and then the 2-minute offense.
Kickoff Team: The first kickoff team consisted of: Paulson Adebo, Brian Poole, Noah Spence, Shaq Smith, Andrew Dowell, Nolan Cooney, Tony Jones Jr., Chase Hansen, Alex Armah, Juwan Johnson, and Grant Haley.
Kick Return Team: This had two separate looks in drills. The first group included Zack Baun, Kaden Elliss, J.T. Gray, Deuce Wallace, Josh Pederson, Eric Burrell, Nick Vannett, Garrett Griffin, Ethan Wolf, Dwayne Washington, and Tommylee Lewis.
The second group in a later drill included a few different faces, which looked like: Juwan Johnson, Chase Hansen, J.T. Gray, Brian Poole, Kaden Elliss, Lil'Jordan Humphrey, Carl Granderson, Zack Baun, Dwayne Washington, Alex Armah, and Ty Montgomery.
Again, special teams matter, so this is an area we will try to keep focusing on.
Gunner and Jammer Update: Ty Montgomery and J.T. Gray were the primary gunners during punt simulations, while Paulson Adebo and Ken Crawley were the jammers.
11-on-11 Notes: Both Hill and Winston finished 3-of-4 in their respective series, while Ian Book and Trevor Siemian went 2-of-2.
Hill's series saw him find Deonte Harris short, Lil'Jordan Humphrey for an inside mid gain, and harris again on a comeback route. His lone incompletion was a pass breakup from Paulson Adebo.
From Winston's series, he hit a swing pass to Devonta Freeman, Adam Trautman tight end screen, and a 50-yard deep bomb to Easop Winston Jr. (more on that later). His final pass was intended for Kawaan Baker, but was a low throw across the middle.
We didn't get to see much of the second 11-on-11 series from Hill because we had to move outdoors, but did see him connect an intermediate pass over the middle to Chris Hogan. Jameis Winston's second series saw him go 3-of-3, which included a good pump fake and deep connection to Juwan Johnson.
During the red zone period, Hill went 2-of-3, with two short passes in the flats and over the middle. His other pass to Hogan was too high. Winston went 3-of-3, and produced two touchdowns. The first was hitting Li'Jordan Humphrey over the middle, and the second one went to Stevie Scott III in the flats for the score. There was some debate on that play, as some thought it was a two-point conversion, but it was because both Hill and Winston got five reps each.
The last period of the 2-minute offense saw just Winston and Book in. Winston went 3-of-6, having his first pass nearly picked by Paulson Adebo. The next play saw him get sacked by Noah Spence, while he missed Kawaan Baker on his next throw on a low pass. He hit the next three before ending the series missing Juwan Johnson thanks to a pass breakup by Andrew Dowell.
Ian Book was impressive in his series, and it's a shame we didn't get to see him finish the job. He went 5-of-6, and the only reason he missed a pass was because it was a spike to stop the clock. Book looked extremely comfortable operating from the gun, hitting Jake Lampman, Nick Vannett twice, Kawaan Baker, and finished hitting Ethan Wolf. Book was moving the offense down the field well.
Short Yardage: This was a very entertaining series that unfolded, as the Saints rolled in with five defensive linemen in this package (Jordan, Dalton, Huggins, Roach, Davenport), three linebackers (Elliss, Davis, Baun), and then C.J. Gardner-Johnson, J.T. Gray, and Ken Crawley.
Zack Baun had two killer back-to-back plays in which he blew up the run. He first stopped Latavius Murray, and then snuffed out a pitch left to Devonta Freeman that was blown up for a loss. One pass was made by Hill in that series, a rollout right to Lil'Jordan Humphrey. That was the offense's only win out of five reps. The series led by Hill ended with an exclamation point tackle from Kaden Elliss on Latavius Murray that resulted in a loss.
The second series led by Winston saw the offense have much more success, as they won 4-1. The one stop they had was a combined sack from Huggins and Roach. Winston's fourth attempt was a deep hookup to Adam Trautman near the left sideline. Somehow, he got wide open, as has been the case for a lot of his routes in camp.
Shaky Kicker Outing: Brett Maher will hopefully be better, but he went 4-of-6 on the day, missing from 42 and 46. Both kicks were pushed right. This will be an area to play close attention to.
Random Observation: This is the second day in a row that we've seen David Onyemata line up as an edge guy. Could be nothing, but very intriguing, to say the least.
Play(er) of the Day: There was none bigger than Jameis Winston connecting with Easop Winston Jr. in the first period of 11-on-11 drills. He hit him on a deep shot over the middle, and what you should appreciate most is that Winston did this by moving around in the pocket and throwing on the move. Equally as impressive was Winston Jr.'s effort to fully extend and get the ball for a 50-yard gain. Winston Jr. was perfect in 1-on-1 drills, going 3-of-3 with all catches being touchdowns.
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