WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. -- A look at the New Orleans roster and it's easy to come to one conclusion: the Saints look good on paper.
But after two days of practice, it's also clear that they look pretty good on the field.
It's hard to know just how good this team can be until the pads go on Sunday. Nevertheless, here are a couple observations from Day 2 of training camp at the Greenbrier.
First, there are plenty of Saints looking to make an impression in camp. In fact, you could say they all are.
It would, however, be more accurate to say there are plenty of players that need to make an impression during camp, and defensive back Patrick Robinson is one of them.
After a gruesome patella injury against Tampa Bay in Week 2, Robinson has fought through months of rehab to get back on the field.
'He is doing well and moving around well,' Saints head coach Sean Payton said. 'I am pleased with the amount of time he's spent, everyday there is a handful of guys that you saw, forget the offseason program, that were almost like fixtures in the building, he was one of them.'
Robinson looks to be showing no ill effects from the injury and on Saturday was the defense's standout performer. During one stretch, he broke up consecutive passes from backup quarterback Ryan Griffin. First, leaping over 6-foot-6 wide receiver Brandon Coleman to jar the ball loose at just the right moment. Then, doing the same to pass intended for Charles Hawkins across the middle.
The offseason work has positioned Robinson, who has been splitting time on the first unit with Champ Bailey, to compete for the cornerback spot opposite Keenan Lewis.
'He scares me. That's a guy that I feel like could have a great opportunity to go up against the number one receiver no matter what team, but also a great teammate,' Lewis said. 'I watched him this offseason, had the opportunity to really work with him as well. He's been working extremely hard to get back and I think he will be ready to go.'
Now, on the other side of the ball, well, there's no reason to think it won't again be among the best in the league.
As long as quarterback Drew Brees is at the helm with Payton whispering sweet nothings into his helmet's earpiece, the Saints will be an offensive powerhouse.
With tight end Jimmy Graham back in the fold, not to mention rookie wide receiver Brandin Cooks turning heads and adding to an already potent array of weapons, the Saints should have no problem scoring points a lot of them.
Graham had the play of the day on Saturday, catching, with one hand, a back-shoulder throw from Ryan Griffin that he proceeded to take the distance.
Sure, it was only a drill, but the emphatic goalpost dunk that followed was indicative of Graham's state of mind. He's out to prove he's worthy of his new contract that made him the game's highest paid tight end. Moreover, he no doubt wants to silent his critics who say teams have figured out how to stop him.
But Saints head coach Sean Payton doesn't give this criticism much credence and addressed two instances when teams had success against Graham.
'New England put one of their bigger, best, defensive backs on him, credit Bill (Belichick), Aqib (Talib) is bigger than their safeties and so he was able to play effectively and then halfway through that game, Jimmy was injured and I think he went through a stretch where he was battling an injury,' Payton said. 'Each week it varies what teams are doing. I would say we see different plans to handle him.
'Obviously, when you sit in on a meeting Tuesday night and you are beginning to defend a player like him, you are going to account for him and have some thoughts when you are in base and some thoughts when you are in nickel and red zone. Some of them are similar. What we saw Aqib do, we saw that happen with (Tony) Gonzalez as well in Atlanta. In Seattle, it was a different scheme.'
Teams are no doubt going to key on Graham and shift coverage his way. But that's where Cooks come in and why it was so important to add a receiver who can stretch the field and put pressure on defenses.
Cooks 'can turn a five-yard hitch route into a 50-yard touchdown,' Saints wide receiver coach Henry Ellard said. 'I think when Brandon is on the field they have to be aware of him that's for sure, if not we're going to take advantage of some situations.'
Cooks and Graham are but just two pieces of the puzzle, pieces that so far fit together quite nicely.