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Observations from Saturday's practice at New Orleans Saints training camp

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; Undrafted rookie linebacker Eric Martin slipped under the radar when the New Orleans Saints signed him out of Nebraska following the NFL draft. But he's obviously done something to make the Saints' coaches take notice this summer. Martin has moved ...

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Old 07-27-2013, 04:25 PM   #1
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Undrafted rookie linebacker Eric Martin slipped under the radar when the New Orleans Saints signed him out of Nebraska following the NFL draft. But he's obviously done something to make the Saints' coaches take notice this summer.

Martin has moved ahead of more high-profile rookies Rufus Johnson and Chase Thomas in the pecking order early in training camp -- for now at least.

The 6-foot-2, 250-pounder has been playing the Jack or "joker" linebacker position with the second-string defense the past two days. He's one of several young candidates to move into a more prominent role in the wake of veteran Victor Butler's knee injury during OTAs.

Obviously it's still very early in the competition, though. The Saints will wear pads in practice for the first time this summer Sunday.

"Eric's done a nice job. He works hard. He's got a knack for pass rush," Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan said. "Obviously, we're gonna find out a lot about these guys when the pads come on. He's a smaller guy, but he's got good leverage. We're gonna find that out. He's got to hold the edge for us in this defense. But I've been impressed him mentally for sure."

Martin played defensive end in a 4-3 scheme for the Cornhuskers. He became a full-time starter for the first time as a senior and responded with 8.5 sacks, earning him first-team all-Big Ten honors from the media and the Big Ten Network.

"It brings up my confidence and it makes me feel good that coaches are looking at me and paying attention," Martin said of the audition with the second-string defense. "I'll just come out here and do everything I can to compete and move up.

"I just like to work. I just like to play. I just love football. So I'm just gonna work hard to maintain my spot. Whatever they ask me to do, I'm gonna do it."

At his size, Martin said he knew he'd be best suited to play 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL. He expects to play around 245-247 pounds after playing around 250 in college.

Martin played linebacker in high school and early in his college career but said he mostly has been a pass-rush specialist. So like the other guys on the team transitioning from end to linebacker, he's still learning how to get comfortable in pass coverage.

"I'm gonna go out there and pass rush, that's what I like to do, that's my favorite. I feel like if I line up in front of somebody one on one, I have a chance," Martin said. "I think I need to work on my pass drops.

"But I think I'm just a hard worker and I'm gonna just go out there and do everything I can."

So far in camp, Johnson and third-year pro Baraka Atkins have been working at outside linebacker with the third-string defense, with Thomas rotating into the mix behind them.

But again, it's far too early to predict the final pecking order.

Other highlights from Day 2 of Saints camp:

WHO'S HOT - KENNY VACCARO

The rookie safety had some nice plays in practice, breaking up a pass intended for receiver Chris Givens during full-team drills and diving for a very impressive pass break-up in the end zone against receiver Kenny Stills during one-on-one drills. That drew one of the loudest cheers of the day from the fans.

Vaccaro has definitely flashed his athleticism this summer while rotating between the first- and second-string defenses. He'll definitely get an opportunity to make an impact at a position where the Saints plan to do a lot of rotating.

PLAY OF THE DAY

Tight end Jimmy Graham made an outstanding fingertip catch in the middle of traffic between linebacker Curtis Lofton and safety Malcolm Jenkins in team drills. But nobody's perfect. Graham dropped a quick out pass on the next play. And Graham has had many more highlights than lowlights so far this summer.

OTHER NOTEWORTHY PLAYS

-- Backup quarterback Luke McCown threw a gorgeous deep ball down the sideline to receiver Lance Moore in one-on-one drills, maybe the prettiest pass we've seen from any QB in camp so far.

Ramon Humber & Ben Watson: Saints Camp Saturday, July 27, 2013
Linebacker Ramon Humber (53) strips the ball from tight end Ben Watson (82) for a turnover during practice at Saints headquarters in Metairie on Saturday, July 27, 2013. (Michael DeMocker, Nola.com / The Times-Picayune)
-- Linebacker Ramon Humber, who has been getting an audition with the second-string defense the last two days, punched a ball loose from tight end Benjamin Watson during 7-on-7 drills.

-- Receiver Saalim Hakim flashed his speed to the crowd by sprinting downfield after a slant pass. Maybe he would have been tackled early if it was live contact, but once he hit the open field, no one was going to catch him.

-- Receivers Stills and Preston Parker also made some nice catches Saturday. I'll expand more in the coming days on the intriguing battle for that final roster spot at receiver.

-- Linebacker Jon Vilma showed that he's still got some athleticism with a leaping pass break-up of a Drew Brees pass.

QUOTABLE

"Yeah. I think you get humbled when you get fired and you're not fired with the entire staff. I think that has a way of humbling you and a way of pissing you off. And I've got a lot to prove. I know I'm great. I've been coordinator of the year, I think probably the only coach ever to be coordinator of the year in major college and in pro football. So it's not like I can't coach. I know I can. I haven't lost any confidence. But I know I've got to earn my respect." -- Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, who was fired by the Dallas Cowboys after last season.

Observations from Saturday's practice at New Orleans Saints training camp | NOLA.com

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Old 07-27-2013, 04:44 PM   #2
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Re: Observations from Saturday's practice at New Orleans Saints training camp

Some good news thanks!
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Old 07-27-2013, 04:46 PM   #3
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Re: Observations from Saturday's practice at New Orleans Saints training camp

Eric Martin

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