Before the Saints opened their rookie minicamp on Friday, Sean Payton told the 67 players assembled that he’s not worried about how they arrived in New Orleans.
All Payton wants to know is whether or not the newcomers can help the Saints.
For five veterans participating in this weekend’s rookie minicamp on a tryout basis, Payton’s words serve as a reminder that New Orleans has taken tryout veterans and turned them into key members of the roster before.
Former Saints tight end Billy Miller, who caught 86 passes over three seasons, was a veteran invited in for a tryout.
“Our roster has all of those designations,” Payton said. “Draft picks, signed free agents, tryout rookies and tryout veterans. I think it’s important for them to know they are trying to make an impression, and they’re not in here just to fill numbers up.”
Bringing in a veteran for a tryout during rookie minicamp allows the Saints to better evaluate how a veteran might fit their system specifically.
No matter how much film a team watches, it’s still hard to project how a veteran used to playing in another team’s scheme will translate into the Saints’ system.
“Well, it gives us an idea as to their skill set,” Payton said. “Again, we’ve got all the film work done, but how do they actually look, specifically, to our team, and you get to know the player for a little bit.”
Defensive end Da’Quan Bowers, tight end Chase Coffman, wide receiver Josh Morgan, offensive guard Paul McQuistan and guard Uche Nwaneri are trying out this weekend.
All five are grateful for the opportunity. A free agent looking for a shot normally has to work out for a team by himself, performing drills against air on the practice field.
“It’s way different than a tryout,” Bowers said. “You get to really show what you can do, you get to show how well you can retain information. It’s just like being in-season, like a veteran camp. You get to go on the field, you get to practice, you get to show what you can do.”
Peat to the right
The debate over where Andrus Peat will compete to a job appears to be settled on the tackle positions.
For now, at least, the No. 13 overall pick in the draft is working primarily at right tackle at rookie minicamp, while also mixing in some reps at left tackle. The Saints currently have Zach Strief at right tackle, so, if Peat progresses, there could potentially be a battle at that spot come training camp.
“I think it’s going to be important for him initially as he gets ready to come to the veterans minicamp and then (in) training camp to begin to have a primary spot,” Payton said. “I see that being initially at right (tackle), but also see him being able to go and play left.”
New Orleans has Terron Armstead at left tackle. It’s possible that one of the members of the trio moves inside to play guard.
Because of Stanford’s school dates, Peat will miss some of the offseason program, including some of the organized team activities.
Since Peat will miss time, the coaching staff will take measures to make sure he remains on top of everything. That process will include sending him information virtually and communicating via Skype.
Allen settles in
Dennis Allen’s primary task in his role as special defensive assistant is to help shore up a Saints secondary that has overhauled the cornerback position this offseason.
The hiring of Allen, who was brought back to New Orleans this offseason after three years as the Raiders’ head coach, prompted many to wonder whether or not the former Saints assistant would have trouble working with incumbent defensive coordinator Rob Ryan.
Allen sees his role as complementary.
“My job is to help Rob with the defense. Rob is the defensive coordinator. I’m going to do everything I can to support him,” Allen said. “And then I’m going to work primarily with the secondary.”
Allen, who spent his first two seasons in New Orleans working with the defensive line, served as the Saints’ secondary coach from 2008-2010.
“This guy is tremendous, and I think he was the secondary coach the last time the Saints won the Super Bowl, so obviously he comes with a great pedigree,” Ryan said. “The last few days, he’s been with our secondary, and he’s doing a great job working with Crime Dog (secondary coach Wesley McGriff) and (defensive assistant) Marcus Ungaro.”