METAIRIE - The New Orleans Saints coaching staff livened up a warm Tuesday afternoon practice with a live goal-line drill that gave their starters as well as second- and third-teamers a chance to shine.
For only the second time since training camp started, the Saints had live contact as all three offensive units got three snaps each to score from the 3-yard line.
The spirited drill was accentuated by taunting and good-natured trash-talking from the defense. Of the nine snaps, the offense scored just once, and that was by the third team as quarterback Sean Canfield hit tight end Michael Higgins for a 2-yard score.
On the first series, running back Mark Ingram was stopped for a 1-yard gain on second-and-goal from the 2 and Pierre Thomas failed to get in on the next play as he tried the left side.
“Coach (Sean) Payton always does a good job of having something, whether its short-yardage or goal-line, for that day where it’s competitive offensively and defensively - and it’s good for this training camp,” weakside linebacker Scott Shanle said. “It’s just fun to go back and forth with your teammates, and it increases the liveliness during that part of practice.
“It’s competitive. I mean, nobody wants to lose offensively or defensively because it gives you bragging rights at least for 24 hours until we come out here and have another competitive period.”
After just his third practice of training camp, including the last two in full pads, Saints cornerback Tracy Porter said his surgically-repaired left knee is holding up well.
“Everything is on track, everything is good,” said the Port Allen native. “I’m out there running around, cutting, doing everything. I’m still explosive and I still have the speed, so I’m hitting the ground running.”
Porter even felt good enough to return some punts during one special teams period Tuesday.
“Returning punts and being back there, I’m just looking for my shot,” he said.
“I’ve been on the depth chart pretty much since I got here (in 2008). Once you’re out here for practice, you’re full-go for everything.”
Saints add Cobbs
After learning that fourth-string halfback Joique Bell would miss some practice time because of a sprained posterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, the Saints signed former Miami Dolphins running back Patrick Cobbs on Tuesday.
Cobbs, a 5-foot-9, 210-pounder, played five seasons with the Dolphins as a backup to Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams. For his career, Cobbs has 171 rushing yards and two scores and has 32 catches for 409 yards and four TDs.
Not practicing on Tuesday were Bell, RB Chris Ivory (foot/sports hernia), DE Greg Romeus (knee), FS Malcolm Jenkins (knee), CB Johnny Patrick (knee), DE Jeff Charleston (ankle), LB Clint Ingram (hamstring), DT Tom Johnson (calf), T Alex Barron (knee), CB Leigh Torrence (hip), LB Ezra Butler (hamstring/sports hernia), and LB Ramon Humber (quadriceps).
Payton said Jenkins tweaked his right knee in practice Monday and would likely sit out Wednesday as well. He’s expected to return to practice Thursday and could play Saturday night at Houston.
In team drills, cornerback Patrick Robinson read a pass from quarterback Drew Brees all the way and stepped in front of wide receiver Lance Moore to make an easy pick, and took it the other way as his defensive mates roared with approval. ? Weakside linebacker Jonathan Casillas chased tight end Jimmy Graham down the middle after he caught a pass and punched the ball out from behind at the 20-yard line with the ball bouncing through the end zone for a touchback.
Tuesday was the final open practice for fans to watch camp as the Saints, who will work indoors the next two days before traveling to Houston for Saturday night’s exhibition game with the Texans. ? SiriusXM’s NFL talk channel will broadcast live from the Saints training facility Wednesday with former NFL defensive lineman Tim Ryan broadcasting from 3-6 p.m. The show can be heard on Sirius Channel 88 and XM Premier.