After Further Review: Five takes from Saints practice #1

After Further Review: Five takes from Saints practice #1
Saints completed their fourth practice of training camp. (Photo by David Grunfeld, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)

(WVUE) - Take One: Okafor & Meredith return

What a pleasant surprise it was to see numbers 57 and 81 on the practice field. I was not expecting to see Okafor in particular. But there he was getting a lot of the first team reps at defensive end. He did split a few with Marcus Davenport but overall he got the majority of them. In Meredith's case, we saw him do some individual work during OTA's but today he also received team reps.

Okafor ruptured his Achilles in late November. Meredith tore his ACL and MCL in August. To see both players progress to where they are now is certainly a welcomed sight to Saints coaches.

Take Two: Brees dominates 7-on-7's

The seven-on-seven session belonged to number nine Thursday. He completed all six of his passes with a touchdown. That TD pass was a beauty. Brees manipulated the safety with his eyes which allowed rookie Tre'Quan Smith to pop wide open on a deep post. Brees hit him in stride; Smith didn't catch it cleanly but was able to maintain possession as he crossed the goal line.

On the play before, Brees moved the linebackers just enough to create a window to throw to Josh Hill over the middle on a square in for a good gain.

Brees six passes during the period:

  • Shallow cross to Ted Ginn, Jr.
  • Slant route to Michael Thomas
  • In-route to Josh Hill
  • Deep post to Tre’Quan Smith
  • Checkdown to Alvin Kamara
  • Deep out to Ben Watson

Take Three: Defense wins team period

While Brees dominated seven-man football, the defense shined during team drills. Marshon Lattimore started things off with a nice pass breakup. Trey Hendrickson followed that up by tipping a Brees pass at the line of scrimmage causing an incompletion. On a Taysom Hill bootleg, Alex Anzalone tipped a pass to Deon Yelder. The ball touched about three different players before landing in the arms of safety Chris Banjo for the interception.

During this period, Marcus Davenport beat Terron Armstead around the corner and nearly sacked Brees. Anzalone also added two tackles for loss on runs.

Take Four: Taysom Hill experiment

It was an interesting day for Taysom Hill. He got work as the second team quarterback, holder and upback on punts. As a quarterback, I still find Hill to be erratic. During seven-on-seven, he threw a decent pass to Keith Kirkwood on an out route but followed it up with a poor throw to Trey Edmonds on a simple curl. His best throw of that drill came on a corner route to Dan Arnold.

During team work, he made a poor throw on a comeback route and threw the pick described above. Hill executed the bootleg perfectly but his throw was behind his intended target.

It's on special teams, though, where Hill's unique skillset shines through. We've seen him cover kicks and punts during the season last year and did a pretty good job. On Thursday, lined up as the upback, the Saints ran a fake punt where he completed a pass for what looked to be the first down.

Take Five: Other Observations

  • Andrus Peat participated in the early walkthrough but did not participate in any team periods. John Fullington ran with the first team at left guard during that time.
  • The unknown player to flash Thursday was wide receiver/tight end Dan Arnold who caught three passes on the day.
  • Ginn, Kamara, TommyLee Lewis and Boston Scott all received reps at punt returner.
  • The Saints appear to be rotating their linebackers. On Thursday, the first teamers were Manti Te’o at middle, DeMario Davis at weakside and A.J. Klein at strongside.
  • Hau’Oli Kikaha spent the day at strongside linebacker. His days as a defensive end appear to be done.
  • Tom Savage left the field early in practice. No explanation was given for his departure.
  • Undrafted linebacker Colton Jumper made a nice play during seven-on-seven when he was able to stretch out and get his hands on a J.T. Barrett pass for the PBU.
  • Michael Thomas left the field temporarily but returned quickly after.

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