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Saints training camp observations (Aug. 22): defense shines on final day of camp, center update, and more

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Old 08-22-2019, 06:46 PM   #1
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Old 08-22-2019, 06:51 PM   #2
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Re: Saints training camp observations (Aug. 22): defense shines on final day of camp, center update, and more

...The Saints wrapped up 2019 training camp Thursday with a return to full pads and a focus on situational work split between indoors and outdoors.

While indoors, the Saints conducted numerous one-on-one drills featuring receivers against defensive backs, running backs and tight ends against linebackers and safeties, and the offensive line against the defensive line.

Once the team moved outdoors for the remaining hour, the Saints went to special team drills and full team drills.

Saints coach Sean Payton pointed out Thursday’s situation-based practice offered “realistic repetitions” and the team will continue to have competitive practices in the weeks leading to the start of the regular season.

Overall, Payton was pleased with how the team responded to close out training camp.

“Look, it’s been competitive,” Payton said. “A little warmer than yesterday, I thought they handled it pretty well.

"There’s so much that you need work at and there’s so many different situations you have to cover. You’re trying to prepare for everything, and yet we’re also trying to prepare them to think the way you think relative to timeouts, where you’re at on the field and how you have to play the game.”

As for who won the last day of training camp?

“I’d say defensively, it looked a little sharper than the offense today,” Payton said.

Here are Thursday’s observations:
PARTICIPATION

Running back Latavius Murray, wide receiver Simmie Cobbs Jr., offensive lineman Marshall Newhouse, linebacker Alex Anzalone, linebacker Craig Robertson, cornerback Marcus Sherels, rookie safety Saquan Hampton and defensive lineman Mario Edwards were not observed on the indoor field during the stretching and conditioning portion of practice.

Wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. returned to practice Thursday after missing the past two days.
CENTER UPDATE

Payton wouldn’t name rookie Erik McCoy as the starting center for the regular season, but McCoy lined up Thursday where he’s been every day of practice for 11-on-11 drills since July 30 — with the first-team offense.

McCoy started the first two preseason games, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him trot out with the ones in the third preseason game for the all-important dress rehearsal for the regular season.

Meanwhile, the Saints might have opened camp with a three-way battle in mind for McCoy, Cameron Tom and Nick Easton. But it’s been all McCoy for the past three weeks.

Tom has mostly worked with the second-team unit at center, while McCoy has also worked with the twos at both guard positions.
APPLE … AGAIN

One-on-one drills between receivers and cornerbacks often lean in favor of the offensive player, so it’s wise to not get too caught up whenever a receiver beats his opponent.

Now, it’s something entirely different when a cornerback shines during the drill given the disadvantage.

Eli Apple had yet another attention-grabbing moment when he locked up against Tre’Quan Smith with Drew Brees throwing the ball during an indoor one-on-one drill.

Smith lined up wide on the right side of the field and attempted a double move off the line of scrimmage to get down field, but Apple didn’t bite and stayed with the speedy Smith. Brees threw the ball on the second move to lead Smith down the sideline, just as Apple jumped up and knocked the ball away.

The play drew cheers from other cornerbacks, and one player yelled out, “Get that s*** out of here!”
DEFENSE CLAMPS DOWN, TAKE I

Payton mentioned after the practice that the defense looked better than the offense, and it started with excellent goal-line work during an 11-on-11 drill.

The Saints starting defense, which featured the “NASCAR front” with Cameron Jordan, Marcus Davenport, Trey Hendrickson and David Onyemata, held Brees and Co. out of end zone. The key plays came on pass breakups from cornerbacks Marshon Lattimore and P.J. Williams. Throughout the goal-line stand, safety Vonn Bell was amped up and yelled out after every play, “There we go!”

The second-team offense led by Teddy Bridgewater didn’t fare any better against the second-team defense during goal-line work.

Rookie defensive end Porter Gustin would’ve have recorded a sack if the red jersey worn by Bridgewater didn’t prevent contact, and cornerback Ken Crawley prevented a potential touchdown pass with a diving pass breakup in the end zone.
DEFENSE CLAMPS DOWN, TAKE II

The Saints closed out the team portion of the outdoor practice with hurry-up offense situations. Brees connected with wide receiver Michael Thomas early in the drive and got the offense around the 10-yard line to set up first-and-goal with 16 seconds showing on the clock.

The first three passes fell incomplete and the defense celebrated, but Payton signaled the offense to go for it on fourth down. Lattimore, though, slammed the door shut with a pass breakup in the end zone leading to a spirited celebration among defensive teammates.
THE FLIP SIDE

Football is a game of emotional swings, as the second-team’s go at hurry-up offense provided proof.

Linebacker Kaden Elliss almost came up with an interception off Bridgewater, but the ball bounced off Elliss’ hands with the clock winding down and the offense close to the 10-yard line. The turnover obviously would have ended the offense’s drive, and it was a missed opportunity when considering what happened on the next play.

Bridewater took the snap, quickly surveyed the field, and then fired a dart to wide receiver Austin Carr, who came open in the end zone for a touchdown with just one second showing on the clock.
PLAY OF THE DAY

Does it come as a surprise we’ll stick with a defensive theme here?

Rookie C.J. Gardner-Johnson has shown plenty of versatility to play safety and nickel cornerback throughout training camp and he put a punctuation mark on his ability to make plays during an 11-on-11 drill.

Wide receiver Austin Carr appeared open in the flat on the left side of the field when Brees threw the ball, but Gardner-Johnson made a perfect break on the football to rapidly close the distance.

Gardner-Johnson then dove fully and arrived just as the ball did. The rookie got his arms around it and appeared to make the interception while in the air, but the ball squirted loose when he hit the ground.

Regardless, it was an exceptional display of athleticism...

It's not that my way is the right way, I just make the right way my way...
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Old 08-22-2019, 10:26 PM   #3
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Re: Saints training camp observations (Aug. 22): defense shines on final day of camp, center update, and more

Originally Posted by jeanpierre View Post

Rookie C.J. Gardner-Johnson has shown plenty of versatility to play safety and nickel cornerback throughout training camp and he put a punctuation mark on his ability to make plays during an 11-on-11 drill.

Wide receiver Austin Carr appeared open in the flat on the left side of the field when Brees threw the ball, but Gardner-Johnson made a perfect break on the football to rapidly close the distance.

Gardner-Johnson then dove fully and arrived just as the ball did. The rookie got his arms around it and appeared to make the interception while in the air, but the ball squirted loose when he hit the ground.

Regardless, it was an exceptional display of athleticism
..
^^^ good stuff on the rookie Gardner-Johnson

He's learning, processing and executing.
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Old 08-22-2019, 11:15 PM   #4
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Re: Saints training camp observations (Aug. 22): defense shines on final day of camp, center update, and more

NASCAR front won't work. Please don't use this unless the game is in garbage time and it doesn't matter if 3 LB's are lining up on DL.
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Old 08-23-2019, 02:45 AM   #5
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Re: Saints training camp observations (Aug. 22): defense shines on final day of camp, center update, and more

Originally Posted by Beastmode View Post
NASCAR front won't work. Please don't use this unless the game is in garbage time and it doesn't matter if 3 LB's are lining up on DL.
Why not?
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Old 08-23-2019, 08:21 AM   #6
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Re: Saints training camp observations (Aug. 22): defense shines on final day of camp, center update, and more

Originally Posted by Beastmode View Post
NASCAR front won't work. Please don't use this unless the game is in garbage time and it doesn't matter if 3 LB's are lining up on DL.
A NASCAR front isnít three LBís lining up on the defensive line. Itís three to four defensive ends.
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Old 08-23-2019, 08:39 AM   #7
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Re: Saints training camp observations (Aug. 22): defense shines on final day of camp, center update, and more

Onyemata can play the strong-side end, nose tackle (as he would in the 'Nascar' front), DT3 (which he plays now, actually PFF-grading better than Rankins), and at his age still play the weak-side edge...

Since T-Rex has gotten noticeably stronger, he can play both ends at his current strength, weight...

With his size, Davenport can play all the positions and maybe be used at the NT to get some push on passing downs and knock down underneath passes...

Cam can play all along the defensive gaps, but would be wasted and not nearly as effective at the NT...

This will be in third and long situations where we'd need an end to run-down a RB on a draw or a long QB scramble...

I'd still use Malcolm on third downs and maybe rotate a DE in for a fresh horse on the line...

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Old 08-23-2019, 01:30 PM   #8
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Re: Saints training camp observations (Aug. 22): defense shines on final day of camp, center update, and more

Originally Posted by rezburna View Post
A NASCAR front isnít three LBís lining up on the defensive line. Itís three to four defensive ends.

I was kidding but, my point is when a DL is inconventional it rarely works out. The other team can also make adjustments when they see that front. It's a wash but we will see. It might work against a weaker OL at times. That's a lot of weight given up so the 3rd DE would have to have uncommon power or speed. There is a reason why this is rarely done.
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Old 08-23-2019, 01:43 PM   #9
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Re: Saints training camp observations (Aug. 22): defense shines on final day of camp, center update, and more

Originally Posted by Beastmode View Post
I was kidding but, my point is when a DL is inconventional it rarely works out. The other team can also make adjustments when they see that front. It's a wash but we will see. It might work against a weaker OL at times. That's a lot of weight given up so the 3rd DE would have to have uncommon power or speed. There is a reason why this is rarely done.
Week #1 vs Houston couldn't have come at a better time. One of weaker O lines in 2018. DeSean was sacked 62 times last season.
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Old 08-23-2019, 02:07 PM   #10
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Re: Saints training camp observations (Aug. 22): defense shines on final day of camp, center update, and more

Always cautious when they start with this “shining” talk...better than “it sucked” but still
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