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papz 06-04-2013 04:05 PM

Jimmy Graham, Rufus Johnson, rotating D and colorful Rob Ryan among New Orleans Saints minicamp standouts
 
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This time of year, everyone wants to know what's new with the New Orleans Saints. But the greatest reason for optimism in 2013 is that same "old" combination of Drew Brees and Jimmy Graham.

Graham was the most impressive player on the field during Tuesday's minicamp practice, leaping up for an outstanding one-handed touchdown grab at one point. He also caught a strike through traffic up the middle during team drills, among other plays.

Graham is obviously coming along well after having wrist surgery at the end of last season. I'm hoping to catch up with him in the locker room today for the first time this offseason to talk about his health and his attitude after a "down season" compared to his lofty standards in 2012.

Heavy rotation

Once again, it was hard to keep up with all of the rotating personnel on the Saints' defense during three sets of team drills Tuesday. Toward the end of practice, they were using a dime package with six defensive backs on the field (including an appearance by cornerback A.J. Davis with the first string since Keenan Lewis was out with injury).

At other times during Tuesday's practice, rookie defensive tackle John Jenkins, rookie safety Kenny Vaccaro and second-year defensive lineman Akiem Hicks took turns with the first string. But here was the starting unit when they lined up in their base defense the first time through:

DEs Cameron Jordan, Kenyon Coleman

NT Brodrick Bunkley

OLBs Will Smith, Victor Butler

ILBs Curtis Lofton, Jon Vilma

Ss Roman Harper, Malcolm Jenkins

CBs Jabari Greer, Patrick Robinson

Rufus Johnson impresses

One guy who passed the "eyeball test" for me Tuesday was rookie outside linebacker Rufus Johnson. He's a long, lean pass rusher, listed at 6 feet 5, 272 pounds. He looks fluid and athletic, and he reached up to bat down a pass by rookie quarterback Ryan Griffin at one point. Obviously the rookie from Tarleton State will face a steep learning curve in his first NFL season, especially since he's changing positions from defensive end in college. But he's got a good athletic makeup to start with.

Ryan's musings

Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan hasn't disappointed the media so far with his colorful personality and sarcastic humor. He once again mentioned being fired by the Dallas Cowboys when asked about why he likes to have so many defensive backs on the roster.

"The way the game is played nowadays, you have to have multiplicity," Ryan said. "Anybody that's followed me (knows) we were No. 3 in the league 10 weeks into the season until every single player on the team was hurt and I got fired. We should have been No. 1 but that's OK. But I learned. You can never have enough good players."

Jimmy Graham, Rufus Johnson, rotating D and colorful Rob Ryan among New Orleans Saints minicamp standouts | NOLA.com

SmashMouth 06-04-2013 04:27 PM

Re: Jimmy Graham, Rufus Johnson, rotating D and colorful Rob Ryan among New Orleans Saints minicamp standouts
 

Rugby Saint II 06-04-2013 06:17 PM

Re: Jimmy Graham, Rufus Johnson, rotating D and colorful Rob Ryan among New Orleans Saints minicamp standouts
 
Get me some Juicy Fruit......then back to the weight room. That means you too Ryan.

homerj07 06-04-2013 06:49 PM

Re: Jimmy Graham, Rufus Johnson, rotating D and colorful Rob Ryan among New Orleans Saints minicamp standouts
 
Hmmkay. Sounds good to me. Except Lewis


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