The Saints are exploring all options to locate an answer at kicker.
After bringing back Kai Forbath and signing Josh Scobee this offseason, New Orleans now is working out some kickers at rookie minicamp. Among those in attendance are rookie Anthony Pistelli (Samford), Connor Barth and Nate Freese.
Both Barth and Freese have professional experience. Freese played for Detroit in 2014, when he connected on three of his seven attempts. Barth went 23-for-28 last season for Tampa Bay.
Pistelli went 20-for-23 last season. He missed on his only attempt from 50 yards or deeper.
“(Barth) has hit the ball out here well,” Saints coach Sean Payton said. “When we have a chance to get a guy who was in our division and has kicked well, it (gives us) a firsthand look.”
New Orleans has been in search for a steady answer at kicker for a few years. Last year, Zach Hocker and Dustin Hopkins competed for the job during camp. The Saints decided to keep Hocker, who was cut after struggling through the first half of the season. Hopkins signed with the Washington Redskins and thrived.
Forbath replaced Hopkins and made 9 of 13 attempts, including a game-winning 50-yard attempt against the New York Giants in Week 8.
No matter what happens, Payton said the team will not take three kickers to training camp.
“It’s not an indictment on the two kickers currently here,” Payton said. “(Barth) is just another talented player that we can look at for three days; and that is a position, unlike some of the others, that is a little easier to evaluate”
The Saints brought in 44 tryout players to go through five practices this weekend, including five veterans.
Pass rusher Matt Shaughnessy and defensive tackle C.J. Wilson have had lengthy careers as rotational players.
Shaughnessy, who was drafted by Oakland and spent 2013 and 2014 with the Arizona Cardinals, has 18.5 sacks in his career, and he worked out for New Orleans at one point in 2015 after getting cut during training camp.
Wilson, who has 6.5 sacks in his career, spent four years with the Packers, one with the Raiders and then spent parts of 2015 in Oakland and Detroit.
Rounding out the list, along with Barth and Freese, is former Oklahoma offensive lineman Tyrus Thompson, a 2015 sixth-round pick of the Minnesota Vikings who was cut at the end of training camp and spent time on the Jacksonville and Detroit practice squads.
New Orleans also had one more interesting story among its first-year tryout players. Tight end Eric Wallace played basketball at DePaul, graduated in 2012 and spent the past three years playing Australian rules football.
Sticking to their guns
The Miami Dolphins took a radical step in their rookie minicamp under new coach Adam Gase this year.
Gase put rookies through classroom sessions on the team’s playbook, along with other educational material designed to help rookies make the transition to the NFL. Miami did not practice at all.
The New Orleans Saints aren’t about to make the same move.
“I understand it, but I would be lying to you if I said we considered it,” Payton said. “We do pay attention to the challenge.”
Both the Jacksonville Jaguars, who lost first-round pick Dante Fowler to a torn ACL a few snaps into their rookie minicamp last season, and the Los Angeles Rams have reduced their on-field work in recent years, according to Peter King of the MMQB.
New Orleans has a different philosophy.
“When you bring this many guys in, the assumption is that they are all in the same shape as Sheldon (Rankins) or one of these other players, but the fact of the matter is they are not,” Payton said. “You want to make sure you’re not dealing with an injury, but it is a sport that part of the learning process is for us coming out here and practicing.”
Matthew Shaughnessy, defensive end, Oakland Raiders/Arizona Cardinals
C.J. Wilson, defensive tackle, Green Bay Packers/Oakland Raiders/Detroit Lions
Connor Barth, kicker, Kansas City Chiefs/Tampa Bay Buccaneers/Denver Broncos
Nate Freese, kicker, Detroit Lions
Tyrus Thompson, offensive lineman, Minnesota Vikings/Jacksonville Jaguars/Detroit Lions
Geremy Aldridge, running back, West Texas A&M
Chris Bazile, tight end, Grambling
Jon Desir, offensive lineman, Towson
Nick Dooley, long snapper, UTEP
Blake Frohnapfel, quarterback, UMass
John Gibbs Jr., quarterback, Alcorn State
Darvell Harris, defensive back, North Alabama
Davante Harris, offensive lineman, Appalachian State
Ike Harris, offensive lineman, East Carolina
Holden Huff, tight end, Boise State
A.J. Hughes, punter, Virginia Tech
Nick Kelly, offensive lineman, Arizona State
Kyler Kerbyson, offensive lineman, Tennessee
Dillon Kidd, punter, Iowa
Royce LaFrance, defensive lineman, Tulane
Keyen Lage, linebacker, South Dakota
Jake Lampman, wide receiver, Ferris State
Tobias Lofton, running back, Nicholls State
Wayne Lyons, defensive back, Michigan
Luther Maddy, defensive lineman, Virginia Tech
Corey Marshall, defensive lineman, Virginia Tech
Boomer Mays, linebacker, Northern Illinois
Lance McDowell, wide receiver, Central Florida
Cheatham Norrils, defensive back, Toledo
Leonard Pegues, linebacker, Memphis
Anthony Pistelli, kicker, Samford
Jimmy Pruitt, defensive back, San Jose State
John Raymon, defensive lineman, Syracuse
T.J. Semke, running back, Kansas
Logan Sweet, wide receiver, UCLA
Dahon Taylor, offensive lineman, Virginia Union
Eric Wallace, tight end, DePaul
Jordan Walsh, offensive lineman, Iowa
Jaylen Walton, running back, Mississippi
Darzil Washington, linebacker, Louisiana-Lafayette
Christopher Weatherd, linebacker, Tennessee
Chris Willson, tight end, USC
De’Runnya Wilson, wide receiver, Mississippi State