WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. — Whenever veteran defensive tackle Kevin Williams decides to hang up his pads, he might have a future in coaching.
Williams, who has been a part of the Saints’ starting defense from the first day of camp, might be almost as valuable in the knowledge he’s passing out to the rest of a young defensive line room.
A five-time All-Pro selection, Williams has dished out his knowledge freely.
“I’m a little extension (of the coaches),” Williams said. “I try to maybe break it down in a way they understand if they didn’t understand the way the coaches told them initially.”
Williams, who lockers next to undrafted free agent Bobby Richardson, has been instrumental in the rookie’s development, helping Richardson become one of the breakout starts of training camp early.
“He’s kind of taken me under his wing,” Richardson said. “Our lockers are right next to each other, so before practice, after practice, we talk about little things I need to work on.”
But it’s not just players like Richardson, fellow undrafted free agent Ashaad Mabry — who initially signed with Oklahoma State out of high school because Williams was his childhood hero — or fifth-round pick Tyeler Davison.
Williams has been an asset for the rest of the Saints starting lineup. A veteran with a solid understanding of what a player’s skill set requires, Williams will pass along little notes on everything from technique to reading an offensive lineman to the best way to take care of the body going forward.
Nose tackle John Jenkins dropped more than 35 pounds in the offseason in part because of Williams’ advice.
“Am I picking his brain?” defensive end Akiem Hicks said. “Absolutely.”
Back in action
The Saints’ plan to rest Marques Colston over the summer and bring him back a couple of days into training camp after an undisclosed injury has paid off in a big way.
Colston has looked smooth and effective since returning to practice, a guy who’s open even when he looks covered.
“That was definitely the plan, and it’s worked pretty well up to this point, so we’ll continue to monitor and manage,” Colston said. “But by all accounts, I feel really good.”
Colston has gotten all kinds of full-speed work in recent weeks, but the Saints held him out of the season opener against Baltimore.
Now, after getting a taste of competition against the Patriots in two joint practices, Colston’s ready to test himself in game action on Saturday.
“I’m sure that’s the plan,” Colston said. “Really, just looking forward to getting some live action.”
Saints coach Sean Payton wouldn’t rule out the possibility of injured safety Jairus Byrd returning to the Saints before the end of the preseason. ... New Orleans waived tight end Kevin Brock off of injured reserve, and defensive tackle Austin Brown cleared waivers and joined injured reserve. ... Golfer Bubba Watson returned to practice and competed in the Saints quarterback challenge after the on-field work finished. ... Former Patriots receiver and future Hall of Famer Randy Moss, a West Virginia native, made an appearance on the practice field and got to meet fellow West Virginia legend Jerry West, the former Lakers star, the model for the NBA’s logo and Moss’s childhood hero. The two stars had never met before.
Five observations from the practice field:
1Tom Brady carved up the Saints second-string secondary, completing his final 14 passes of the practice in a row and tossing five touchdowns.
2Fifth-round pick Davis Tull has an explosive first step as a pass rusher. He may have a chance to contribute quickly in passing situations.
3New Orleans’ starting offensive line held its own in 1-on-1 pass rush, posting a 30-10 record against Patriots pass rushers over two days of practice.
4Willie Snead made two highlight-reel catches, one-handing a Garrett Grayson laser in traffic and then leaping over a corner for a fade in the end zone.
5Weak-side linebacker David Hawthorne has spent two days struggling to cover Rob Gronkowski. in the regular season, he likely wouldn’t have to do so alone.
Joel A. Erickson