Practice Notebook, 8/3
P.M Edition – The Saints returned indoors for the afternoon workout – a scheduled trip to the club's indoor practice facility rather than being driven under the roof by rain as has been the case in previous afternoons…The team practiced in helmets, shoulder pads and shorts, with over 200 suite holders in attendance…FB Pierre Thomas/Heath Evans.aspx">Heath Evans – quick on his feet, a more than able receiver and a solid blocker in space – has given the offense a new threat at the position…In the first team portion of practice, DE Bobby McCray stripped QB Mark Brunell – working again with the second unit – as the lefty passer pulled the ball back to throw. Brunell rallied on the next down, finding WR Lynell Hamilton/Skyler Green.aspx">Skyler Green on a long completion…K Garrett Hartley went a perfect six-for-six on his field goal attempts, including a long of 50…QB Drew Brees threaded a deep pass over LB Scott Shanle and beneath the arms of S Usama Young to TE Jeremy Shockey, who made a tough grab in the traffic for a long gain…Three memorable moments on one play: A screen pass to RB Mike Bell was well executed, with G Tim Duckworth and T Zach Strief hustling out front as escorts to supply a pair of key blocks. Bell then made a nifty cut around LB Mark Simoneau, drawing big applause from his teammates on offense. The defensive players on the sidelines began celebrating moments later when Bell was knocked off his feet on a rugged hit by CB Leigh Torrence…Two plays later, LB Troy Evans crossed the middle to knock a hard spiral away from TE Jason Kyle/Billy Miller.aspx">Billy Miller…WR Marques Colston made a running one-handed grab near the sideline during the final team session, sliding to keep his feet in bounds…Practice closed with a series of 50-yard sprints.
A.M Edition – After a 20-minute walkthrough spread across both practice fields early to start things off, a high-tempo practice that featured a strong performance throughout the workout by the defense lasted until 11am…In early blocking drills, the entire offensive line in unison pounded a large sled, with three coaches riding the device. The sled was lifted into the air with every rep… Area scout Mike Neu, a four-year starter at quarterback for Ball State and former coach of the AFL New Orleans VooDoo, warmed up the running backs with hard tosses…The wide receivers and defensive backs worked on blocking/containment on the perimeter early. Wide receivers coach Curtis Johnson, in constant motion daily on the field, forced WRs Devery Henderson and Marques Colston to repeat their turns in the rotation after the cornerbacks in front of them completely eluded their blocks…In a physical seven-on-seven period in the first half of practice, DE Jeff Charleston shot the line and jammed rookie RB Herb Donaldson four yards deep in the backfield. RB Mike Bell went around the left edge a few plays later for a sizeable gain, and G Lynell Hamilton/Shawn Flanagan.aspx">Shawn Flanagan and T Anthony Davis opened up a big gap for RB Garrett Hartley/P,-d-,J,-d-, Hill.aspx">P.J. Hill a few reps later… After a break, the loudest ovation of the day for the offense followed a long touchdown burst by RB Pierre Thomas, made possible by key blocks by G Carl Nicks and T Jon Stinchcomb, who had sealed off the right side of the defense. Thomas made one cut – inside LB Scott Fujita – and was off to the races…The rest of the first team portion was dominated by the defense. CB Jason David made a solid play, knocking a would-be completion away from Colston. In a game, the pass may have never been thrown, DE Will Smith was standing next to QB Drew Brees when he delivered the throw. QB Anthony Hargrove/Joey Harrington.aspx">Joey Harrington, working with the second team, also faced a heavy rush on each play. The next time the first team came on the field, DE Charles Grant corralled Thomas as soon as he took a handoff. And the secondary had several tipped passes, with rookie CB David Gorrer hauling in an interception…The morning practice was a big day for the secondary. A few dropped interceptions frustrated Gregg Williams – the defensive coordinator once threw his practice notes in disgust, once nearly bent over backwards and by the end of the workout was nearly hoarse – but the group also had a handful of interceptions and knocked away several balls as they flew around the field. CBs Jabari Greer, David and Tracy Porter have distinguished themselves daily with their solid play. Said defensive backs coach Dennis Allen: "All three have had good camps so far, certainly. There isn't anyone I haven't been happy with. These undrafted guys we have signed, all of them can play as well."…The biggest hit of the day came in a shoulder-to-shoulder collision between Bell and CB Leigh Torrence, with the running back plowing into the cornerback, and then bouncing outside for a long gallop…During the team drills, coaches yell out the situation, "3rd-and-7," etc. Defensive coaches always stress third down, whether a long or short yardage scenario…Pedro Taylor, father of the late Sean Taylor, attended practice today as a guest of Williams. The Saints' coach tutored Taylor's son when both were with the Washington Redskins, with Williams serving as defensive coordinator and Taylor as a Pro Bowl safety…Assistant trainer Kevin Mangum is in his 30th training camp with the club, including his first as a student assistant. He has been to Saints camps in Vero Beach, Fla., Hattiesburg, Miss., Jackson, Miss., and camps held locally in Hammond, Thibodaux and here in Metairie…"Saints Moses," a fixture on the Superdome sidelines, showed up in the stands among the around 1,000 in attendance. He was in full costume, including white gloves, despite the 90 degree temperature. The glue on his long fake beard held in the heat and humidity... 45 minutes following practice, after Brees, Reggie Bush and Thomas had finished signing autographs and Payton had completed his interview session with the media, DT Earl Heyman remained alone on the practice field, without his jersey and pads, hitting a blocking sled. The time of his departure is unknown.
Practice Notebook, 8/2
For the third-straight day, the Saints were forced to move an afternoon practice indoors. Today's schedule for the team, after a pair of days with two practices, was a walkthrough in shorts and jerseys in the morning and a full-pads practice this afternoon…Coach Sean Payton was in full-teaching mode early in practice with the offense, carefully going over patterns and drops with the quarterbacks and wide receivers. A combination of up to five wide receivers, tight ends and running backs would take off after the snap without any defenders across from them, and the quarterback would pick a target and deliver the pass. At least three other receivers would also be thrown to by the other quarterbacks and a coach… It's hard to get a good idea of the size advantage WR Marques Colston often has on cornerbacks unless standing on the sideline. The 6-4, 225-pound wide receiver towers over most defensive backs and he is extremely physical when the ball arrives…A traditionally-competitive individual faceoff was featured today that isn't always part of the practice routine: Blocking drills where linebackers and safeties take on the running backs and tight ends. The process is simple: The running back or tight end is in his stance – aiming to protect a swiveling blocking dummy with an arm that is holding a football as if passing – and the defender is split out wide. Today the head coach was handling the snap count. RB Reggie Bush did a terrific job in protection in his first rep, stymieing LB Jonathan Vilma. Later Bush was beaten by LB Marvin Mitchell in one of the drill's big collisions. The biggest hits? Crunching blows between LB Robert Meachem/Jo-Lonn Dunbar.aspx">Jo-Lonn Dunbar and TE Marvin Mitchell/Billy Miller.aspx">Billy Miller followed directly by LB Scott Shanle and FB Olaniyi Sobomehin…QB Drew Brees had been flawless – held without an interception despite a multitude of passes through the first four practices – but was picked off twice this afternoon. The first was by CB Jabari Greer, a key free-agent signing by the Saints from the Buffalo Bills in the offseason – a move that ESPN correspondent Chris Mortensen, a visitor at today's practice, expects to be a good one for New Orleans. Brees bounced back with a strike to Miller on the following play, but was intercepted again in a later team drill on a diving catch by CB Randall Gay. The defensive back went to the turf, sliding in front of WR Devery Henderson to pick off the quarterback…Gay also made a nice play earlier in the team period, knocking a would-be completion from the arms of Colston. Brees was under heavy pressure from the defense, which had brought too many players than the offensive line could block. Brees managed to get rid of it and put the pass in a catchable spot for Colston, but Gay beat the wide receiver to the ball…WR Robert Meachem scored on the longest play of the day, with Brees intentionally throwing to his back shoulder after solid coverage by CB Tracy Porter. Meachem hauled in the pass while jumping around Porter's outstretched arms and took off to the end zone.
Practice Notebook, 8/1
Day two on the practice fields at the Saints' training facility. After a relentless morning sun, relief drifted over in the form of a few dark clouds. During a quick break, these words came from defensive line coach Bill Johnson, apparently pleased with the work by his unit over the first 20 minutes: "One thing you are going to have to understand – I control the weather. That was a good job there. You see, in return you get some clouds. Now you'll know when the sun comes out, I'm pissed off."… Two LSU players squared off when CB Randall Gay and WR Lynell Hamilton/Skyler Green.aspx">Skyler Green went head-to-head in one-on-one drills early in practice. Gay stuffed Green to the inside, a solid play by the defender, before Green finally made his way outside the hash marks to make the reception…The play of the day in the first half of practice was made by CB Tracy Porter, who went over the top on WR Devery Henderson to knock away a pass on a deep pattern, drawing the praise of his defensive teammates and a healthy applause from a crowd of more than 2,000…Returners taking turns fielding punts included RB Reggie Bush, Porter, Green, WR Lance Moore and Henderson. Said special teams coach Greg McMahon to the coverage units when he didn't like their pace: "If you're walking, you're wrong"…Brian Young, a Saints starter throughout his five seasons with the club (2004-08), is working with the defensive line as a coaching assistant during training camp…RB Herb Donaldson had a strong morning workout and showed the virtue of perseverance. First the 226-pound rookie was drilled to the turf by S Pierson Prioleau at the line of scrimmage on a carry up the middle. But on the next play, he took off on a 30-yard burst, drawing the immediate, loud praise from Coach Sean Payton. Later in practice, he had a similar rush around right end through a handful of arms, a gain sprung on a key block by WR D'Juan Woods. Said wide receivers coach Curtis Johnson, turning to the rest of the wideout corps as Woods returned: "That is how you block, right there." …The team portion of the morning practice featured the most physical play of training camp to date – only three practices in, of course – but there was plenty of hitting. The bulk of the play-calling was running plays, with intense action inside, and more than a few ball-carriers ending up on the ground…The offensive and defensive linemen split off into pass rushing drills late in practice, with the offensive line distinguishing itself. DE Will Smith left T Jermon Bushrod in his stance once while quickly going around him, but Bushrod also held his own later. T Jon Stinchcomb stood up DE Charles Grant twice, though DE Paul Spicer did send one blocker head over heels…Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams has stressed turnovers since arriving in New Orleans, with every loose ball – even incompletions – being chased down and scooped up by defenders on every play. In the final team segment, Prioleau dropped a sure interception, leaving Williams nearly disgusted as he turned his head away from the field. Prioleau – known for his heady play, leadership and versatility – has played for Williams during his coaching stops at Buffalo, Washington and Jacksonville. "I can't believe it coach," said Gay with a laugh. "You've been coaching him for 20 years, and he drops an interception right at the end of practice."
Practice notebook 7/31, by Ricky Zeller
The first Saints' practice of 2009 Training Camp – and the team's first in full pads since October of last season – kicked off at 8:50am, with 2,303 officially in attendance. Included in that total was a couple holding a gold sign with "We drove seven hours to get here" hand-drawn across the front of it. A long line of fans wrapped around the field more than an hour before the gates opened…While the morning was already warm, before the end of the workout at 11am the temperature had officially risen to 91.5 degrees, with a heat index of 105.4, according to the digital gauge held by the athletic training staff on the field. There were no heat-related problems for the players, and it rained following practice. The unpredictable weather forced the team to move the afternoon practice indoors…Training camp always brings a number of Canadian Football League scouts to practice, who roam the sidelines to keep an eye on prospects who might not make the club's final roster…Early in practice, WR Robert Meachem made a twisting, over-the-shoulder grab while tangled with a defensive back that drew a lengthy cheer from the crowd. The one-on-one drills – quarterbacks dropping back without a rush, no safety in the middle of the field and the cornerback alone with the wide receiver – are a favorite of the fans and a difficult assignment for the defensive backs. CB Tracy Porter stood out by breaking up a pass near the sideline to WR Marques Colston….The battle at cornerback will likely be one of the most compelling of camp, with Randall Gay, Jabari Greer, Porter, Jason David and Leigh Torrence among the veterans headlining a deep group, not to mention unsigned No. 1 pick Malcolm Jenkins…In early pass-catching drills, S Chris Reis juggled the ball before dropping it, then went to the turf and did 10 quick pushups…WR Lance Moore, wearing a red jersey as he continues to work his way back from offseason shoulder surgery, made a fast break on an out pattern and hauled in a strike from QB Mark Brunell. "Seems like old times," said wide receivers coach Curtis Johnson. Moore participated in one-on-one and seven-on-seven drills on a limited basis…In team drills, David earned huge praise from defensive coordinator Gregg Williams after closing quickly on a screen pass. From deep in the secondary, David arrived just as RB Mike Bell caught the ball. While in practice a completion, it would likely have been a huge collision in a game, if not a turnover. Williams went on to the field to loudly congratulate David…Williams could be heard across the practice field later during the team session, when a defender lightly tapped a wideout following a reception to indicate a tackle would have been made. "I do NOT like that tap," the veteran coordinator said. "Wrap the offensive player up. I do not like the tap out here." … A pair of photographers from Sports Illustrated were sent to cover the club's opening days of camp.