Notes and observations from Thursday’s organized team activity:
Attendance, please: QB Garrett Grayson, S Jamarca Sanford, CB Damian Swann, LB Jerry Franklin, C Max Unger, OT Andrus Peat, DL Brodrick Bunkley, and DL Glenn Foster were among those missing from practice. RB Mark Ingram was held back with a minor ankle ailment. Unger was missing due to the birth of his child, Grayson was at the rookie premiere, and Peat is still at college.
Wide receiver rotation: Marques Colston and Nick Toon were the top receivers in the base offense. Brandin Cooks, Seantavius Jones and Brandon Coleman were the next men up. Jones appeared to be receiving snaps ahead of Coleman, as both worked at the X receiver position.
Play of the day: Rookie linebacker Stephone Anthony had a nice interception during 11-on-11 drills when he dropped back into a zone and picked off a pass from quarterback Luke McCown.
The other play of the day: Brandon Coleman juked Kyle Wilson out of the slot and took off for a touchdown. Coleman He appeared to be running a sluggo route and beat Wilson with a quick two-step.
Starting offensive line: Zach Strief and Terron Armstead at tackle; Jahri Evans and Tim Lelito at guard; Michael Brewster at center.
Starting defense: Akiem Hicks, John Jenkins, Cam Jordan, Junior Galette, Anthony Spencer, David Hawthorne, Dannell Ellerbe/Ramon Humber (mostly Humber), Brandon Browner, Keenan Lewis, Kenny Vaccaro, Jairus Byrd. Kyle Wilson at Star.
Backup defense: Tavaris Barnes, Kaleb Eulls, Tyeler Davison, Parys Haralson, Stephone Anthoney (Mike), Henry Coley (Will), Hau’oli Kikaha, Stanely Jean-Baptiste, Delvin Breaux, Rafael Bush, Vinnine Sunseri. P.J. Williams at Star.
Standing out: Ben Watson looked good running routes, and rookie tight end Harold Spears quietly did some things well. Brandon Coleman and Seantavius Jones both had positive moments. On defense, Delvin Breaux gave up a reception in 7-on-7s but provided very competitive coverage. He looked good throughout the session. Brandon Browner also had some good moments. The amount of zone defense was notable.
A good sign?: The sample is small and the competition is limited, but last year’s second-round pick caught the eye on one play when he flipped his hips and kept stride with speedy wide receiver Jalen Saunders on one play.
Punt returners: Brandin Cooks, Jalen Saunders, C.J. Spiller, Marcus Murphy
Gunners: Edwin Baker, Joe Morgan, Nick Toon, Delvin Breaux, Pierre Warren, Brain Dixon
Kicker battle: Dustin Hopkins made kicks from (an estimated) 32, 37, and 42 yards. He missed from 47. Zach Hocker made all four of his attempts.
Drew Brees passing: He was 6-for-8 in 11-on-11s, with one dropped pass by C.J. Spiller. Breakdown is as follows:
Pass 1: Complete to Nick Toon with Keenan Lewis coverage
Pass 2: Complete to Ben Watson against zone coverage
Pass 3: Compete to Josh Morgan against zone coverage
Pass 4: Incomplete to R.J. Harris with Keenan Lewis in coverage
Pass 5: Complete to Marques Colston on the sideline but would have been a sack
Pass 6: Complete to Ben Watson with Anthony Spencer in coverage
Pass 7: Incomplete to Josh Morgan. Brandon Browner suffocated a slant route and knocked Morgan to the ground.
Pass 8: Complete to Seantavius Jones, who beat a Keenan Lewis jam at the line of scrimmage.
Brees was 3-for-4 in 7-on-7 drills. He completed passes to Khiry Robinson, Josh Hill, and C.J. Spiller. Spiller dropped the fourth pass.
Luke McCown passing: McCown was 6-for-7* passing in 11-on-11s.
Pass 1: Compete to Josh Morgan on a short out against Stanley Jean-Baptiste
Pass 2: Complete to Spiller on a screen.
Pass 3: Complete to Brandon Coleman against Kyle Wilson.
Pass 4: Complete to Kyle Prater against Kyle Wilson.
Pass 5: Picked off by Anthony.
Pass 6: Complete to Cooks against zone coverage.
Pass 7: Complete to Tim Hightower on a screen.
McCown was 5-for-5 in 7-on-7s. He complete passes to Seantavius Jones, Josh Hill, Khiry Robinson, Hightower and Edwin Baker.
*Full disclosure: I missed one McCown pass
Ryan Griffin passing: Griffin was 4-for-6 in 11-on-11s.
Pass 1: Complete to Josh Hill against zone coverage.
Pass 2: Complete to Marcus Murphy on a screen.
Pass 3: Complete to Josh Morgan against broken coverage.
Pass 4: Complete to Orson Charles against Pierre Warren.
Pass 5: Batted down.
Pass 6: Incomplete to Nick Toon on a fade route against Brian Dixon.
Griffin was 5-for-5 in 7-on-7s. He completed passes to Charles, Baker (2), Murphy and R.J. Harris.