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Holder: Practice Observations

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; Jairus Byrd's turn to shine for improving Saints defense, and other practice observationsLarry Holder, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune By Larry Holder, My mentions of Jairus Byrd haven't been all too plentiful during this year's New Orleans Saints training camp. It's ...

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Old 08-23-2016, 06:26 PM   #1
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Holder: Practice Observations

Jairus Byrd's turn to shine for improving Saints defense, and other practice observationsLarry Holder, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune By Larry Holder,

My mentions of Jairus Byrd haven't been all too plentiful during this year's New Orleans Saints training camp.

It's a give and take with this.

The give involves not mentioning Byrd too often for his performance in practice. The young cornerbacks have taking much of the headlines with their stellar play on a near-daily basis.

The take is that Byrd has been a staple with the first-team defense essentially the entire camp. That hasn't been the case by any means the last two offseasons. Byrd has been ready and able for the Saints, and never been a real liability for the improving defense.

I noticed Byrd more for his playmaking abilities during Monday's first training camp practice session back at the team's facility in Metairie. Drew Brees probably noticed him, too.

Brees lined up the offense on a red zone team drill during the afternoon session. The quarterback looked for Brandon Coleman on a crossing route. Brees' pass flew high (even though I'm not sure how Coleman made the effort to put his hands up) into the hands of the leaping Byrd behind Coleman.

Brees simply stood motionless for a couple of seconds after the interception. I'd like to know what Brees was thinking following the throw.

Byrd ended another red zone team drill with a pass breakup on a Brees throw. The Saints safety batted away the football on fourth down on a short crossing route. It was the third unsuccessful red zone team drill for the first-team offense in a row.

The highly touted pickup in 2014 is an easy punching bag as to some of the mishaps by the Saints during the last couple of seasons. The fact is Byrd is healthy enough to practice just about every day. And Monday, Byrd played well for a defense increasing in swagger by the day.

Here are more observations from Monday's Saints training camp practice:

- I mentioned above how the Brees-led offense couldn't find the end zone in its first three shots during red zone team drills. The first two drives ended in two plays. Specifically, they ended on two interceptions.

Blame the second interception on Josh Hill, not Brees. The Saints quarterback hit the tight end right between the numbers on a short route. The football bounced off Hill's hands into the air. Undrafted rookie De'Vante Harris continued to be a magnet to the ball by hauling in the juggled pass.

- Overall, the offense maintained its erratic play from the loss to the Texans last weekend.

Luke McCown also fell victim to an interception in the red zone drill. Undrafted rookie linebacker Dillon Lee picked off McCown over the middle as McCown didn't seem to see him in his passing path.

Tim Hightower fumbled the ball during a full-scale team drill. The running game as a whole still didn't look crisp. Even Terron Armstead didn't play well with a false start and an obvious holding penalty on Kasim Edebali during team drills.

You can officially say the Saints offense is in a funk.

- The offense at least wrapped up practice with two touchdowns in the red zone. Marcus Murphy broke off a run ducking around defenders for about a 10-yard run. Coleman ended practice being wide open a completely busted coverage. He stood alone with no one within 20 yards of him in the corner of the end zone. Brees found him for the touchdown.

- The interceptions undoubtedly stood out for the Saints defense. I'd argue Edebali made the play of the day in pass coverage, though.

Tommylee Lewis came across the formation just before the snap and no one was around to cover Lewis off the line except Edebali. So the defensive end took off with Lewis in the red zone drill on the way to the end zone. Brees lofted the ball to Lewis on a corner route by the goal line. Edebali swatted the pass away at the apex of his jump to break up the possible touchdown.

- The kicker battle still sits too close to call. I'm not sure if that's a positive or a negative. Regardless, Kai Forbath and Connor Barth successfully drilled their four field-goal attempts in practice.

- I'll leave you with this. Only two players fielded punts in team special teams drills: Murphy and Brandin Cooks.

Jairus Byrd's turn to shine for improving Saints defense, and other practice observations | NOLA.com
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Old 08-23-2016, 08:58 PM   #2
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Re: Holder: Practice Observations

Good observations.
Lots of shiny defense and a sputtering back-firing offense.
There were times last year when they got stuck in the mudd with 3-and-outs.
The inability to run the football has put Brees/Payton into some predictable tight windows.
Looks like that won't change this year.
Cooks, Snead, Thomas and the TE's will have to catch everything thrown their way.
What kind of alternate reality that would be?
Dome Patrol II with an offense that can't get out of their own way?
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