The New Orleans Saints’ defense has turned in two very solid days of work during the mandatory minicamp, largely led by a secondary that has forced all three quarterbacks to work hard for anything they can get.
And the defense might have turned in its best day of the open sessions so far on Wednesday. New Orleans racked up seven unofficial “sacks” in team drills, picked off two passes and repeatedly forced the quarterbacks to check it down over the middle.
There were also at least three drops by the receivers.
Attendance: Hau’oli Kikaha and Avery Young were both not spotted at practice again. Robert Meachem missed the second day of his tryout with a foot injury. Safety Jairus Byrd, cornerback Kyle Wilson, defensive end Kasim Edebali, safety Jamarca Sanford, punter Thomas Morstead and linebacker Dannell Ellerbe did not participate in team drills.
Tull’s a terror: Davis Tull, the 2015 fifth-round pick who was essentially forced to take a redshirt year due to two separate shoulder surgeries, flashed a couple of times working off the right edge of the defensive line. Tull has a very quick first step, and he blew past Ryker Mathews for a pair of sacks.
P.J. persistent: The other redshirt member of the 2015 class, P.J. Williams, is putting together a very strong summer. Williams, who plays a physical brand of cornerback and likes to pattern his game after Delvin Breaux, broke up two more passes in team drills and nearly picked off Brees for the second straight day.
Linebacker leaps: Nate Stupar and Dillon Lee came up with the interceptions. Stupar picked off a Drew Brees ball that bounded off of Tim Hightower‘s hands to end a two-minute drill at the end of practice, and Lee snagged a ball thrown a little behind the running back by Garrett Grayson during team work.
Harris hops: On a fairly rough day for the offense, R.J. Harris came up with another big play to burnish his summer credentials. Harris leaped to make a catch down the sideline between two defensive backs. Harris is really good at making contested catches and difficult catches down the field, and it’s shown up during the summer sessions.
Fringe flashes: Former Air Force tight end Garrett Griffin and Metairie native Chris Bazile have made the most of limited chances so far. Both players made nice catches on Wednesday.
Brees joke: On the first play of team drills, Brees faked a handoff to Mark Ingram, pulled the ball down and boot-legged around the outside into space. A fan yelled out that Brees needs to stay away from doing that, because he could get hurt. Rest assured, the Saints likely aren’t turning Brees into Randall Cunningham.
Brees stats: During team drills, Brees completed 9-of-16 throws with an interception — on one of the incomplete passes, he likely would have been sacked. Brees completed throws to Mark Ingram (2), Coby Fleener (2), Reggie Bell, R.J. Harris, Brandon Coleman, Brandon Cooks and Willie Snead. Brees would have been sacked twice.
McCown stats: McCown completed 2-of-8 throws in team drills, hitting Willie Snead and Tommylee Lewis on the completions. McCown would likely have taken three sacks.
Grayson stats: Grayson completed 5-of-8 throws, including the interception to Lee — one of the completions came on a fumbled snap and likely would have resulted in a sack. Grayson completed passes to Chris Manhertz, Jake Lampman, Chris Bazile, Tommylee Lewis and Garrett Griffin.
Defensive stats: “Sacks” — Davis Tull 2, Bobby Richardson, Obum Gwacham, D.J. Pettway and one that included Nate Stupar and another player. Pass breakups — P.J. Williams 2, Kenny Vaccaro, Tony Carter, Vonn Bell, Damian Swann.