The first- and second-string Saints’ defenses won the day Monday by foiling their offensive counterparts in a pair of simulated two-minute drives to end practice.
On the first drive, Saints quarterback Drew Brees completed his first seven passes of the drive for 60 yards, positioning his team at the defense’s 20 before clocking it with 21 seconds left. All-Pro Saints tight end Jimmy Graham caught five of those throws for 41 yards, and Marcel Jones was in at left guard for Pro Bowler Ben Grubbs, who left practice early.
But then Brees threw an incomplete pass to wide receiver Kenny Stills on second down, and safety Kenny Vaccaro sacked him on third down for a loss of five yards. On fourth down from the 25, Brees was blitzed, and he hurried a throw to the end zone toward wide receiver Marques Colston that fell incomplete.
Brees shrieked gutturally and slapped his hands together in frustration when the drive failed.
Afterward, Saints linebacker Curtis Lofton said “it’s always important” to deny a two-minute drive, simulated or not.
“Every game’s coming down to two minutes,” Lofton said. “We came out with the win today.”
Meanwhile, under the command of second-year backup Ryan Griffin, the No. 2 offense made it from their 20 to their 44 before cornerback Corey White recorded a sack on third-and-6 with less than a minute to go.
On the ensuing fourth-and-13, undrafted rookie safety Pierre Warren picked off Griffin to wrap up practice.
Warren has made a number of plays on the ball — whether pass break-ups or interceptions — throughout training camp and has made a compelling case for a roster spot under safeties Jairus Byrd, Vaccaro and Rafael Bush.
He also has four tackles (three solo) and a pass break-up in the Saints’ two preseason wins so far this year to go with his big moment Monday.
The Saints practiced in their indoor training facility in Metairie due to rain, and the workout was closed to the public.
—Coleman rebuilding stock—
Undrafted rookie Saints wideout Brandon Coleman’s stock took a staggering hit in the Aug. 8 exhibition at St. Louis when he dropped the two passes thrown his way and tipped one of those up for an interception. Towering at 6-foot-6, Coleman did better against Tennessee in New Orleans on Friday, catching both of his targets for 28 yards.
He continued the positive plays Monday, catching four passes in full team drills: one each from Brees and Griffin as well as two from McCown. He dove along the right sideline for one of his grabs off McCown.
Coleman also caught a pass from McCown during seven-on-seven team drills. The productive day prompted a reporter to ask Sean Payton about Coleman, and the Saints coach praised the young receiver for his physical blocking against Tennessee.
“It was good to see ... (he) made enough plays today,” Payton said of Coleman. “That’s encouraging.”
Coleman had a lot of dropped passes in the offseason workouts he attended after signing with the Saints in May as an undrafted free agent out of Rutgers. Recovering from a lingering knee injury, he did better when training camp opened, but then he regressed at St. Louis.
-Lined up at defensive tackle, Rufus Johnson Jr. blew up a run play in spectacular fashion in fourth-string team drills. He sliced into the backfield, yoked rookie running back Timothy Flanders and slammed him to the turf of the indoor facility.
-In seven-on-seven passing drills, White, Warren and rookie cornerback Brian Dixon broke up throws from Brees, Griffin and fourth-string quarterback Logan Kilgore, respectively. Linebacker Ramon Humber also broke up a pass Brees intended for Jimmy Graham in what was a pretty successful drill for the defense.
That said, veteran wide receiver Robert Meachem retaliated to a degree by hauling in a long pass along the left sideline and over his outside shoulder from Brees. He then halted, cut inside of the man covering him (reserve cornerback Derrius Brooks) and ran toward the end zone.
-In 10 plays on a running drill, the offense got medium to long gains four times, and the defense held the other six. Mark Ingram, Khiry Robinson, Flanders and Travaris Cadet got the gains for the running backs.
-Some special teams notes: rehearsing long snaps were backup fullback Austin Johnson and No. 3 tight end Josh Hill. They were doing so under the direction of entrenched long snapper Justin Drescher. That’s been seen before.
Later, on a punt coverage drill, third-year wide receiver Nick Toon was serving as a gunner. So was wide receiver Tobais Palmer, acquired in free agency after training camp began.
With rookie wideout Brandin Cooks sidelined by a stomach virus, Stills, receiver Charles Hawkins and Cadet fielded punts. Those blocking the gunners included Dixon, Bush, safety Vinnie Sunseri and cornerback Trevin Wade.