WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, WV (WVUE) - When we look back at of some of the best performances of the illustrious career of Drew Brees, practice nine of Saints Training Camp 2016 will not be a part of the highlight reel.
In what may been his worst performance at a camp practice ever, Brees was stifled by the Saints' defense and threw four interceptions. The biggest question post-practice was how much of what we've seen is an improvement in the secondary versus how much is a product of a sluggish offense?
There are a few layers to the correct answer. Brees, by my count, has thrown eight interceptions through nine practices. There's no doubt some of those can be attributed to a much more active secondary. However, as a whole, this has been a camp full of explosive plays on both sides of the ball. Whether it's a long pass, a sack or an interception, there seems to be a lot big plays being had. Point being, it appears a lot of more chances are being taken during camp to keep the intensity up. But I'm not sure if it's by design or something that's happening in the heat of the battle. That doesn't excuse bad throws or decisions, but I don't think those same chances will be taken in a regular season game.
So for those concerned with Brees, I wouldn't worry too much at this point. Remember, he still doesn't have his starting offensive line in tact. To me, the positives of a defense creating more takeaways far outweighs any concern of Brees throwing INT's.
Crawling into the spotlight
Picking off Brees twice in one practice is bound to get an undrafted free agent some attention. But the truth is Ken Crawley has steadily made plays throughout this camp. Saturday was just the culmination of that.
On his first pick, Crawley was able to high point the under-thrown go-route during 7-on-7 drills. On his second pick, Crawley quickly read Brandon Coleman's curl route, broke on the ball, and made the play.
Given the current health of the cornerback position, Crawley is a player that has rightfully gotten the coaches attention as a possible option on the roster.
Play of the Day
Crawley came up huge but the play of the day came on a different INT. Brees d ropped back to pass but his throw was batted at the line by Cam Jordan. The ball floated sideways to the opposite side of the defense and landed in the hands of linebacker James Laurinaitis who made an impressive return for the touchdown.
To date, it was Laurinaitis' biggest play of camp. It was also the type of play that tends to happen when a defense is very active with getting their hands on passes. The ball eventually finds you. Hopefully, it's a sign that this defense is becoming more
- The fourth interception came during two-minute when Brees threw a corner route to Michael Thomas. The ball was tipped by De'Vante Harris and picked off by Erik Harris in the end zone.
- Active linebackers in pass coverage is something I keep circling back to with this camp because, quite frankly, I can't remember the last time I've seen this much of it. Dannell Ellerbe blew up a screen intended for Travaris Cadet.
- For the first time in camp Max Unger lost a one-on-one battle when Tyler Davison beat him during the drill.
- Willie Snead was one of the only offensive players to have a good practice Saturday. He made multiple big catches.
- Obum Gwacham made a nice play off the edge when he strip/sacked Luke McCown.
- There may come a time at some point in the season where the entire NFL looks back and realizes the Saints committed highway robbery by the pennies they paid Nick Fairley. Fairley has been a disruptor along the defensive line with two tackles for loss Saturday.
- This defensive dominance occurred with Kenny Vaccaro, Jairus Byrd, Delvin Breaux, Keenan Lewis, and Damian Swann not practicing. Mark Ingram also did not practice.