New Orleans Saints show no rust in first week of training camp

New Orleans Saints show no rust in first week of training camp

Credit: AP

New Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan (94) works against tackle Zach Strief (64) runs through drills during training camp at their NFL football training facility in Metairie, La., Saturday, July 28, 2012. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

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wwltv.com

Posted on July 31, 2012 at 8:44 AM

Updated Tuesday, Jul 31 at 4:16 PM

Bradley Handwerger / WWLTV.com Sports Reporter
Email: bhandwerger@wwltv.com | Twitter: @wwltvsports

Week 1 Thoughts

It’s easy, thanks to human nature, to think that the Saints would have come into training camp and not been sharp.

It hasn’t been the easiest offseason, what with the whole bounty thing and the long, public negotiating season for Drew Brees and the team’s brass.

But anyone who saw the first four days of Saints training camp practice saw that they weren’t, in fact, rusty.

Anyone who thinks the Saints are going to go out and fail come Week 1 should be greatly mistaken. Will they be world-beaters? Who knows.

But they won’t fail. There’s simply too much talent on this team.

The second week of practice opens today. Don’t expect any drop-off.

Position battles

Kicker
While kicker might not be high-profile, it’s certainly important. The battle between Garrett Hartley and John Kasay will go down to cut day in all likelihood. By our tallies, Hartley has missed one kick while Kasay has not. But Hartley came back the next day and went 4-for-4. Sometimes it’s how you respond that tells you the most.

Still, it might be telling that in the Saints’ “Mayday” drill a few days ago, when the Saints simulate a late-game, must-make kick scenario, it was Kasay who got the nod. And he made the 38-yard field goal with no problems.

Wide Receiver
The No. 4 spot was, and is, wide open still. You’d be short-sighted to think that the Saints chose Robert Meachem’s replacement after only four practices.

But through the first four days, Adrian Arrington has put his hands firmly in position to own it. He’s making spectacular catches while dropping few passes. He’s in and out of his cuts and, even when covered, getting hands on balls that in the past he might have given up on.

Rookie Nick Toon had a brilliant organized team activities season this spring and summer. He looked the part. And in the first three days, he made some pretty good grabs. But on Day four, he faltered, dropping a handful of passes in his hands. We always wondered what he’d look like with pads on. The key for him will be how he follows up that sub-par Sunday. Remember, however, that Marques Colston wasn’t exactly setting the world on fire during his first training camp.

Joe Morgan’s speed is still intact, so that’s good. He’s the wild card in this battle for the fourth spot. Linebacker Scott Shanle was singing his praises the other day, talking about just how fast he is. He hasn’t stood out altogether so far in training camp but it wasn’t until we saw him in preseason games last year that we began to see his potential.

Fourth Cornerback
The starters are set with Jabari Greer and Patrick Robinson, both of whom are having fairly good training camps. And Johnny Patrick is set as the nickelback.

The question is who is playing for the “Leigh Torrence” position?

Corey White, New Orleans’ fifth-round draft pick, has picked up work with the first-team when both Robinson and Patrick were out with injuries. But he hasn’t stood out to me thus far. Not a good thing, but also not a bad thing.

Marquis Johnson has seen a bulk of the second-team reps opposite of Patrick at left cornerback. The former seventh-round pick by the Rams likely has a leg up in the competition because he played for defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo and secondary coach Ken Flajole in St. Louis. He has been beaten a few times, but for the most part, has held his own against the Saints’ receiving corps.

Elbert Mack also has seen some time with the second-team, but hasn’t impressed very much. He appears to have OK cover skills, but I’m not sold on his consistency yet. Again, all of this is on just four days of practice. Mack, in his fifth season, could get more comfortable this week.

Other observations:

  • Devery Henderson isn’t likely fighting for a spot but he’s not having the best camp. I’ve seen him drop several passes and when he does, he usually walks slooooowly back to the huddle.
  • Roman Harper might not be the sack machine he has been the past few seasons, but something tells me he’ll be making big plays. More than a few times quarterbacks have completed passes in front of him that fans have ooh’d and aah’d over. But they failed to realize that each time Harper pulled up so as not to annihilate his teammate.
  • Cameron Jordan has been in the backfield a lot this training camp. Not sure if that means he has upped his game and the new defense suits him or the offensive line is having problems. One is good for the Saints, the other is obviously not.
  • Jed Collins played his way onto the team a season ago in training camp.  He’s not letting go of that spot any time soon. The impressive fullback owned one-on-one blocking drills against the linebackers and has shown a penchant for being able to catch the ball thus far in training camp.

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