After Further Review: Saints first padded practice full of intensity and explosive plays

After Further Review: Saints first padded practice full of intensity and explosive plays

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, WEST VA (WVUE) - On Saturday the pads came on for the first time. As expected, it was the most lively practice of this very young 2016 Saints training camp. Sean Payton promised a more intense camp; we saw the first real version of that today with a near three-hour workout that was full of big plays.

Play of the Day 

Somehow, Michael Thomas keeps one-upping himself everyday at practice. His catch Friday was unbelievable, but his catch Saturday may have been even more impressive. It was the same combination as Friday: Thomas got single coverage and Luke McCown gave him a shot to make a play. But unlike Friday where he had to run under a deeper ball, this pass was under thrown forcing Thomas to stop his route and re-position himself in front of Brian Dixon in coverage to make the catch. 

Spiller the Thriller

CJ Spiller promised 'the thriller' would be back in 2016 and backed up his proclamation on Saturday with a magnificent run. On the play, Spiller took the handoff spun out of a tackle of Nate Stupar, cut back behind the block of Kyle Prater and blew past the secondary for an electric touchdown run. 

We've been waiting to see that burst from Spiller since he came to New Orleans. That run was truly the first time it was on display.

Fleener Finding his way

With Coby Fleener's steady progress, a day like Saturday was bound to happen. He opened things up with an amazing one-handed grab during seven-on-seven where he blew past linebacker Stephone Anthony. Then, Drew Brees hit Fleener on a corner route for a huge gain. His most impressive route came on seven-on-seven's when he beat Kenny Vaccaro on a stop route while Brees hit him back shoulder for a big gain.

That route was as close to a Jimmy Graham route as we've seen from Fleener. 

Cooks Connection

The Brees- Brandin Cooks connection looks as strong as ever. Brees hooked up with Cooks on deep cross during team drills. Cooks took it the distance for the touchdown racing past Delvin Breaux and Jairus Byrd. 

That was the third big play Cooks has made this camp. For those in the fan base that are not on board with Cooks, it might be time to officially get on. He could be poised for another big year once again.

Cam Conquers

Cam Jordan is the Saints' best defensive player and played like it Saturday. Jordan owned the individual drills. During his four reps, he beat Zach Strief and Andrus Peat twice apiece. He also had an impressive stop on a run play. 

Breaux Show

Breaux's status as the team's top corner looks secure. He was very active Saturday getting his hands on receivers and on passes. He had three pass break-ups including two on back-to-back plays. One of them came on a pass to Thomas. It was the first time I've
seen Thomas battle a cornerback for a ball and not come up with the catch. 

Other Observations

-Nick Fairley and Erik Harris left practice with an apparent injury. Hopefully both will return soon as both had solid starts to camp.

- Kai Forbath had the edge in field goals today. He was 4/4 on attempts from: 32, 38, 42 and 48 yards. Connor Barth was 3/4 after missing one from 42.

- During 9-on-7 drills, Kenny Vaccaro lit up fullback Sione Houma as he was trying to deliver a lead block.

- Max Unger was rock solid in the middle during individual drills against John Jenkins.

- Hakeem Nicks made his first big catch today on an ad-lib play from McCown. 

- Jimmy Pruitt got his first interception of camp off a tipped ball thrown behind Kyle Prater by Garrett Grayson.

- Damian Swann had another nice pass break-up on a deep pass intended for Brandon Coleman. 

Copyright WVUE 2016. All rights reserved.

Sean Fazende
Saints Beat Reporter/ Anchor