Monday's training camp practice was relatively low key, but it generated a few moments of note:
- After picking off a pass in Saturday's 23-17 win at Indianapolis, Saints safety Kenny Vaccaro stripped running back Mark Ingram in a team drill and recovered it. Ingram had just caught a pass along the sideline in the practice, was saw players in helmets, shoulder pads and shorts and didn't allow live contact.
Vaccaro has openly talked about how focused he is on creating turnovers, as is the rest of the defense. It's been paying off -- they've created countless takeaways in drills and eight in the past two preseason games.
- With Saints QB Drew Brees not out at practice, Luke McCown handled snaps with the first string. The other man competing to be Brees' primary understudy, Ryan Griffin, worked with the 2's.
McCown's center with the 1s was veteran Jonathan Goodwin. Goodwin played well Saturday running with the projected starters on offense, and it seems he has the job as first-string center well in hand after outperforming competitor Tim Lelito, in his second year with the Saints.
- WR Brandin Cooks took part in team drills after missing a couple of practices last week with an illness. He returned punts and ran pass routes.
Cooks dressed out for Saturday's game at Indianapolis but didn't play a snap. He's caught six passes for 71 yards and a touchdown this preseason.
As has been throughout camp, also fielding kicks were safety Jairus Byrd and running back Travaris Cadet.
- Famous for his plays on the ball, Byrd had a theatric pass break-up in a seven-on-seven drill. He snuck up behind TE Ben Watson, leapt and with two hands swatted down a pass left from McCown that would've gone for a gain of about 7.
McCown completed passes to receivers such as Nick Toon, Marques Colston and RB Mark Ingram on a screen. Another highlight in the period included an outstretched, fingertip catch by rookie WR Brandon Coleman in traffic from a throw by Ryan Griffin.
- On a first-string, two-minute drill to conclude practice, McCown drove the offense to inside the 20 but then the drive stalled out. A third-down pass to TE Ben Watson around the goal-line was broken up by LB David Hawthorne. Then, on fourth down, McCown heaved a desperation pass to the left of the end zone that veteran CB Champ Bailey intercepted.
- Working opposite No. 1 CB Keenan Lewis, Patrick Robinson nicely read a slant from McCown to Colston and swatted it down for an incompletion.
Later in the period, McCown got one back by firing a pass over the middle of the field to All-Pro TE Jimmy Graham and hitting him in stride. It was the throw of the day up to that point -- Graham didn't need to alter his step at all after slipping past LB David Hawthorne.
- In a special-teams drill, FB Austin Johnson recovered an onside kick for the receiving team. Johnson has done well on offense filling in for injured FB Erik Lorig, and he scored a touchdown off a short pass on Saturday. Adding good moments on special teams will help his cause as he tries to crack the bottom of the roster with Lorig being injured, possibly last Week 1.
- In an individual passing drill early in practice, coach Sean Payton offered up a curious sight by lining up to cover receivers for the start of their routes. Among those he covered were running back Travaris Cadet in the slot and tight end Josh Hill out wide.
The 6-foot-5 Hill had the height advantage on Payton.
Aside from quarterback Drew Brees, other Saints not at practice Monday were WR Andy Tanner, T Ty Nsekhe, S Marcus Ball and S Ty Zimmerman.
On the stationary bikes at the start of practice but not in pads were T Thomas Welch, S Rafael Bush, LB Khairi Fortt and WR Kenny Stills. In pads but working off to the side with a trainer during individual drills was CB Trevin Wade.
LB Victor Butler (undisclosed) was in pads and participating in practice Monday after being out since around the beginning of training camp and being sidelined for the first three preseason games, all wins. CB Rod Sweeting returned to pads and participated in practice as well after missing several workouts and the last two preseason games for an undisclosed reason.