I try not to get too dialed in to what I see on the football field this time of year. It's May and truthfully, you can't get a real feeling of progress until much later.
But what you can pick up early in OTA's is the organizational vibe of the offseason. And this year is different than any others we've seen in the recent past. One sign proved it. Literally, a street sign is up as the players walk onto the practice field. On it reads, ‘N Compete St.' Coach Payton said it's a reminder of the level of competition and sense of urgency they want to see everyday they're at practice. He compared it to playground basketball and the mindset of a pickup game where the ‘winner stays' and the loser may not get back on the court the rest of the day.
When I saw it I immediately flashed back to interviews last year from well-respected locker room guys who said their biggest mistake was the assumption that everyone knew what it took to be successful.
I mean it's the NFL. Everyone should know to compete to the fullest, right? Well, the Saints aren't taking that chance nor will they ever assume they do. If they have to remind them every day of it by having a street sign on the field, that's what they'll do. No longer are the Saints tweaking a winning infrastructure already in place.
Their task this offseason is building a new infrastructure.
Play of the Day I
Not longer after I criticized Brandon Coleman for dropping two passes in individual drills, he made me eat my words with a sensational play. Coleman beat Kyle Wilson, went down the seam and caught a great pass from Luke McCown and ran it in for a touchdown. The play showed great route running, strength, timing and impressive hands by Coleman. Dare I say, the play was Colston-esque in execution?
Play of the Day II
Ben Watson showed early that he is more than just a blocker/short yardage tight end. He too can get downfield. In team drills he split the safeties on a post route and brought one in from Drew Brees and raced untouched for a touchdown.
Play of the Day III
Of all rookies, Stephone Anthony is the most likely candidate to make an immediate impact as a starter. He flashed some of that ability today when he dropped back into coverage and stepped in front of a Luke McCown pass and returned the interception for a big gain.
Anthony had perfect depth on his drop and read McCown's eyes beautifully to pick the ball off. I look for Anthony to push David Hawthorne at middle linebacker all offseason.
Max Unger- birth of a child.
Andrus Peat- school commitment
Garret Grayson- NFL mandated photo shoot
Anthony Spencer, not Junior Galette, ran with the first team at outside linebacker. Galette got in plenty of first –team work but wasn't the true ‘starter.' I don't know if this is the organization's way of telling Galette he needs to earn his way back on their good graces or not.
Cornerback Brandon Browner is big… very big. In fact, he is the biggest cornerback I've ever seen in a Saints uniform. He flashed that textbook physicality Thursday when he pressed Josh Morgan at the line of scrimmage on a slant route. The legal contact forced Morgan to fall to the ground while Browner got his hand on the pass. If Browner is the player the Saints hope he can be and Jairus Byrd is healthy, this secondary can see the biggest turnaround of any position group from a year ago.