We're one Saints practice away before we get to shift our major focus to Saturday's preseason game against the Ravens. The 12th training camp practice started outdoors and nearly went the distance, but had to finish indoors due to rain and thunderstorms. Here's our notes and observations from Wednesday's practice.
The Saints were missing several players on the day, as Wil Lutz, Tre'Quan Smith, Jalen McCleskey, Pete Werner, P.J. Williams, KeiVarae Russell, Marcus Williams, Adonis Alexander, Quentin Poling, and Payton Turner were missing from practice.
Although there were missing faces practicing, there was some encouraging news. For starters, Ethan Wolf (ankle) returned to practice. Andrus Peat, who left Tuesday's practice early, was a full participant on the day. Tre'Quan Smith was later spotted on the sideline and was doing some running drills on the opposite side of the field. I also spotted McCleskey and Turner after practice.
The big news of the day was that Ty Montgomery left the field on a cart with an apparent injury. His status is unknown. Malcolm Roach also left practice early after they shifted indoors due to the weather. On Werner, it doesn't appear serious, but he's dealing with a right leg injury.
One jersey change to note is that Albert Huggins is now No. 95 instead of No. 60.
It was more struggling today for both quarterbacks, as we saw them work in 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills. Jameis Winston took the starting reps today, and the highlight of the day came when he hooked up with Deonte Harris on a 45-yard deep shot for a touchdown.
Both Winston and Taysom Hill had passes that were broken up and either overthrown, underthrown, or low. If you had to give the advantage to either quarterback on the day, it would go to Winston for his big play and overall better efficiency.
Starting Rotation and Notes
This might have been the closest the Saints have looked to full strength at offense in quite some time.
- QB: Jameis Winston
- RB: Alvin Kamara
- WR: Lil'Jordan Humphrey, Marquez Callaway
- TE: Adam Trautman, Nick Vannett
- OL: Terron Armstead, Andrus Peat, Erik McCoy, Cesar Ruiz, Ryan Ramczyk
Sub Notes: James Hurst was a sub for Ramczyk, while Latavius Murray, Devonta Freeman, Alex Armah, Juwan Johnson, Chris Hogan, and Ty Montgomery all got work with the first team offense.
The Saints gave nickel defense looks to open practice, and primarily stayed there during walkthroughs. However, some looks later saw them roll in some 4-3 alignments.
- DE: Cam Jordan, Marcus Davenport
- DT: Christian Ringo, Jalen Dalton
- LB: Demario Davis, Kwon Alexander
- CB: Ken Crawley (left), Paulson Adebo (right)
- Slot: C.J. Gardner-Johnson
- S: J.T. Gray, Malcolm Jenkins
Sub Notes: Kaden Elliss and Zack Baun rotated in for Davis and Alexander, while Tanoh Kpassagnon and Carl Granderson rotated at edge. Although Adebo took a couple of starting reps, Marshon Lattimore came in quickly to be the starter.
Taysom Hill and Trevor Siemian handled all of the wide receiver-defensive back battles on the day. Here's how each went, with the notes on the matchup, result, and route.
Taysom Hill (4/10)
- Tommylee Lewis vs. Ken Crawley, incomplete - PBU deep right sideline
- Marquez Callaway vs. Marshon Lattimore, incomplete - Backshoulder left sideline (missed throw)
- Lil'Jordan Humphrey vs. C.J. Gardner-Johnson, incomplete - Slant route, PBU. C.J. Gardner-Johnson did a great job breaking up the catch that Humphrey initially made.
- Easop Winston Jr. vs. Brian Poole, incomplete - Sideline left (high throw)
- Chris Hogan vs. Paulson Adebo, complete - Mid out near sideline
- Marquez Callaway vs. Marshon Lattimore, complete - Mid inside (Callaway bobbled but secured it)
- Alvin Kamara vs. C.J. Gardner-Johnson, incomplete - PBU slant
- Lil'Jordan Humphrey vs. Paulson Adebo, incomplete - PBU inside short route
- Marquez Callaway vs. Brian Poole, complete - Touchdown deep right (Poole slipped )
- Lil'Jordan Humphrey vs. Ken Crawley, complete - Touchdown deep right
Trevor Siemian (4/9)
- Kawaan Baker vs. Grant Haley, incomplete - Deep left (overthrow)
- Jake Lampman vs. C.J. Gardner-Johnson, complete - Slant
- Deonte Harris vs. Paulson Adebo, complete - Deep sideline left, Harris lost Adebo on the route.
- Tommylee Lewis vs. Brian Poole, complete - Comeback sideline left
- Kawaan Baker vs. Brian Poole, incomplete - Comeback sideline right (ball went out of bounds)
- Tommylee Lewis vs. C.J. Gardner-Johnson, complete - Inside slant, play drew a flag
- Jake Lampman vs. Grant Haley, incomplete - Deep right
- Deonte Harris vs. C.J. Gardner-Johnson, incomplete - Gardner-Johnson did a great job staying with Harris in stride
- Alvin Kamara vs. Paulson Adebo, incomplete - Deep right (overthrow)
Rhythm, Flow, and Observations
The Saints offense was back in their white jerseys for the outdoor practice, and this one saw officials brought into the mix. The crew that was there had previously worked with New England and Pittsburgh. They will be presenting some things on Wednesday evening around some of the league's new rule changes and such.
The flow of practice was again familiar. With it being outside, the position groups are able to spread out a lot more with two fields out. You also get to see the first team separate from the second team and below. Outside of the normal position drills, the Saints receivers were working on some off-ball route concepts, while the quarterbacks and running backs were working on some rollouts.
Later on, the defensive line and offensive line worked separately, while the quarterbacks and specialists all worked together. The defensive backs and linebackers worked together on some more 1-on-1 type work. After an initial 11-on-11 period, the team worked on kickoff simulation, while the position groups like offensive line and quarterbacks did some separate work. The Saints then moved to 7-on-7, mixed in some punt work, and then closed out with a good bit of 11-on-11 drills.
7-on-7 Notes: Charted Winston going 3-of-5, Hill 2-of-5, Ian Book 1-of-3, and Trevor Siemian 2-of-2. Both series for the apparent starters were rough. Winston's first pass was a wobbler that was dropped by Callaway, followed up by a short mid gain to Alvin Kamara with Lattimore in coverage. His third attempt was intended for Lil'Jordan Humphrey who tried to make a one-handed grab. The other plays were minimal gains.
Hill had a tremendously tough series in this drill. He connected his first pass to Tony Jones Jr. in the flats for a small gain, and then operated in shotgun to overthrow Juwan Johnson down the seam. His next pass was a small gain to Nick Vannett, and then Hill was picked off by Ken Crawley on an underthrown ball down the right sideline. Hill tried to rebound, but overthrew Callaway deep left.
11-on-11 Notes: Winston's first series was uneventual, as it saw two Kamara runs (sweep left and inside) get blown up, as C.J. Gardner-Johnson and Demario Davis each had their respective stops. The next snap saw Winston fumble and recover, but add a sack for Christian Ringo. They closed out with a run to Kamara.
As for Hill's first series, Devonta Freeman had a nice run to start, but it went nowhere quickly. Another high snap from the second team (Will Clapp) resulted in a tackle for loss by Carl Granderson on Dwayne Washington, On the next play, credit Shy Tuttle with a nice run stop on Washington. The final play from Hill saw no one open with good coverage from the defense, forcing a keeper to the left.
Winston's second series resulted in a much better showing, as he hit on all three of his passes. Zack Baun gets praise for snuffing out an Alvin Kamara run to the right. The play of the day came when Winston hit Deonte Harris for a 45-yard touchdown on beautiful playaction with Kamara. We've been waiting all camp for someone to connect like that, and point goes to Winston.
Hill's next series saw him go 0-of-1. Chase Hansen forced a fumble on Dwayne Washington's first carry, but it went out of bounds. Jalen Dalton would sack Hill on the next play, and his only throw attempt was intended for Alex Armah on a short sideline shot. Tanoh Kpassagnon had a particularly good rep there after blowing up the lineman and pressuring Hill.
One other player to point out from this particular session was Jake Lampman. He did a great job hanging in with Ian Book to get a pass, and Book did a great job evading the pressure. The other was when Trevor Siemian threw to him and Lampman had the 'ups' to go get the pass.
Before the rain hit, we got to see Winston and Hill one more time. Neither did particularly well. The first Winston pass was underthrown to Chris Hogan, while the next one was broken up and read perfectly by Demario Davis. The next rep saw Cam Jordan get a sack, and the final play saw Winston keep it after facing pressure from Jordan and Kpassagnon.
For Hill, his lone pass was broken up by Grant Haley that was intended for Easop Winston Jr. Noah Spence had back-to-back strong plays with the pressure on that play, and then a sack on the next one.
We weren't able to see too much after the Saints moved inside due to the weather threat, but they were working on the 2-minute drill. From what we observed there, it was Ian Book who had the best series, but the final play of practice was a pass breakup in the end zone. Winston went 8 plays, while Hill only went 3 (essentially the defense forced a punt).
Kickoff Team: Again, these things matter when you talk about the depth chart and the final several spots of the roster. Here's what the team looked like today from left to right: C.J. Gardner-Johnson, Juwan Johnson, Kaden Elliss, Dwayne Washington, Kawaan Baker, Brett Maher, J.T. Gray, Zack Baun, Chase Hansen, Brian Poole, and Paulson Adebo.
Punting Drills: Nolan Cooney is a hard one to figure out. Of his 11 punts, four of them looked really good. However, he's just been really inconsistent. We thought Cooney was on the rise, but not a good showing from him on the day.
As far as gunner work, J.T. Gray and Paulson Adebo continue to be a familiar pairing there. Keep an eye out on Kawaan Baker and Grant Haley here, however. Preseason reps will really spell the difference, and they absolutely matter.
No Signs of Slowing Down: Cam Jordan was particularly impressive during today's training camp. He was getting after Winston often during drills, and had some good reps in 1-on-1 work against the offensive linemen. He's one we don't talk about as much, but he said after practice that he wants to play as much as possible.
Stock Up: Again, Noah Spence continues to be someone who shines consistently in practice as a pass rusher. He may not have a spot on the final roster immediately, but he's really looking more like the player who was with Tampa. At this point, it's going to be a tough call when final cuts come.
Thursday's practice will mark the conclusion for the Saints this week, as they make final preparations for their game against the Ravens.
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