this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; By SHELDON MICKLES Advocate sportswriter Published: Jul 30, 2007 JACKSON, Miss.—The New Orleans Saints coaching staff got a chance to see one of their top youngsters Sunday when cornerback Usama Young, one of their two third-round draft picks this spring, ...
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Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Home Sweet Home, NEW ORLEANS, La.
DB Young finally gets to practice
By SHELDON MICKLES
Published: Jul 30, 2007
JACKSON, Miss.—The New Orleans Saints coaching staff got a chance to see one of their top youngsters Sunday when cornerback Usama Young, one of their two third-round draft picks this spring, finally got on the field.
Young missed the first four training camp practices with a strained left quadriceps muscle, which he injured about a week before training camp started while working out with his old coach.
Young showed off his 43-inch vertical jump, going high in individual interception drills to catch the ball. He later knocked away a pass in the morning practice and intercepted one in team drills in the afternoon. Young jumped an out-route and picked off a Jamie Martin pass intended for wide receiver Rhema McKnight, returning it 20 yards for a touchdown for the play of the day.
“I felt very comfortable out there,” Young said. “I’ve only been able to get some mental repetitions because they had me working on the side during practice. So it felt good to get back out there.”
Shaping the nickel
The Saints started installing their nickel, or five-defensive back package, in Sunday’s morning practice — one of the first signs that their exhibition opener in the Hall of Fame game is just six days away now.
“Specifically, there are a lot of new looks when you get into the nickel,” coach Sean Payton said. “There’s a lot more installation from an offensive standpoint. There are a lot of details involving route-running and protection. We’re still in that part of camp when we install quite a bit.”
Payton said the defense moved around pretty well in the morning practice, but the offense appeared a little sluggish. He said the offense did better in the afternoon workout.
“I thought we did well early on, but we’re getting good looks from the defense,” he said. “This was the third day of practice, which is sort of like a hump day.”
The Saints started looking at possible replacements for Michael Lewis in Sunday’s morning practice. Lewis’ contract was terminated in June, leaving a host of players to vie for the starting kick return role.
On Sunday, Aaron Stecker, Lance Moore, Terrance Copper and Robert Meachem were among the more prominent players taking turns. Stecker and Copper returned kicks last season while Lewis recovered from a torn ACL.
Reggie Bush, the starting punt returner last season, Moore, Jason David and Tramain Hall have been returning punts since training camp started Friday.
Free-agent cornerback Anwar Phillips, who faces an uphill battle to win a roster spot, certainly impressed Sunday morning.
In one-on-one passing drills, Phillips intercepted a pass thrown by Tyler Palko.
He later got another pick off Drew Brees on a pass intended for Marques Colston.
In a 9-on-7 running drill in the morning practice, free-agent safety Chris Reis came up and met rookie running back Antonio Pittman in the hole. The popping of their pads was heard all over Harper Davis Stadium as Reis stood Pittman up while several teammates came to his aid.
DT Brian Young (fractured foot), WR Jamal Jones (knee) and DE Jon Hamm (quadriceps) missed both practices on Sunday. DE Anton Palepoi twisted his right ankle midway through the afternoon workout and left the field. He will be re-evaluated today.
The Saints will practice twice today at Millsaps College, working at 8:50 a.m. and again at 3:40 p.m. The first practice will be a special teams walkthrough