The Saints' practice on Tuesday generated myriad tidbits. Below is a rundown of some of the highlights:
-With quarterback Drew Brees sidelined with an oblique injury, backup Luke McCown worked with the 1s on offense (his center was Tim Lelito to start). Ryan Griffin worked with the 2s (his center at first was Jonathan Goodwin).
All camp, McCown and Griffin have been rotating, and so have Goodwin and Lelito.
-In a short-yardage rushing drill, the backups on defense failed to set the edge on back-to-back plays, allowing long runs outside to the left and right on each. Predictably, defensive coordinator Rob Ryan was upset and berated his charges. After the second play, he approached reserve LB Todd Davis for a word. Davis earlier had a good moment, though, going in unblocked and decking reserve RB Timothy Flanders. Flanders then had one of the big runs -- the one to the left.
-With fullback Erik Lorig out, Austin Johnson -- the reserve at the position -- got plenty of work as a lead-blocker in the short-yardage drill. He's done well throughout camp catching the ball consistently out of the backfield and seems poised to make a compelling case for a roster spot, though Lorig (a relatively high-profile acquisition in free agency from Tampa Bay) remains the favorite.
-Returning kickoffs in a drill were RB Travaris Cadet, WR Brandin Cooks, RB Derrick Strozier, WR Charles Hawkins and RB Pierre Thomas. Of those, Hawkins and Strozier are fighting for end-of-the-roster spots.
-Later, Cooks and Hawkins were returning punts. Hawkins got more work with WR Joseph Morgan's being held out of practice Tuesday. Hawkins has shown secure hands and impressive speed returning punts, but there's no doubt his audition with a very crowded WR corps remains an uphill battle. The New Orleans native and Southern alum is vying for a spot under virtual roster locks Cooks, veteran Marques Colston and second-year man Kenny Stills. His main competition includes guys like deep-threat Morgan, veteran Robert Meachem and Nick Toon, heading into his third season.
-Saints left tackle Terron Armstead shone in one-on-one line drills, halting star pass rushers Cam Jordan and Junior Galette in their tracks in separate encounters. Galette recovered by swimming inside Zach Strief with his trademark fluidity for what would've been a sack.
Center Jonathan Goodwin, working against backups Lawrence Virgil and Tyrone Ezell, looked head and shoulders above, halting both in their tracks. Reserve tackle Bryce Harris, who has been struggling in one-on-ones, again dropped a pair of encounters to backup outside linebacker Marcus Thompson. Harris certainly seems to be on the hot seat.
-Safety Marcus Ball opened a team passing drill working with the first-string defense. He was nickel, under safeties Kenny Vaccaro and Rafael Bush. Safety Jairus Byrd has been limited as he recovers from offseason back surgery.
An alum of the Canadian Football League, Ball is definitely trending upward. Most notably, he had an interception and a quarterback sack in Saturday's intrasquad scrimmage.
-In a team passing drill, Saints cornerback Corey White shone. He had a nice pass break-up on a McCown pass to Jimmy Graham, sneaking up behind and cleanly reaching over the All-Pro tight end to bat the ball down. White then picked off a Ryan Griffin throw to Brandon Coleman along the sideline. It was White's second consecutive day with an interception off Griffin.
-In that team passing drill, reserve offensive lineman Jason Weaver got a look at right guard. He had a nice moment in one-on-ones, halting reserve defensive end George Uko in his tracks. It was surely an encouraging moment for Weaver, who is also listed as tackle and is most definitely on the bubble.
-A daily Cooks highlight: on the passing drill, he caught a bubble screen left, faked out his pursuit and ran in for a score from a good distance out. He was touched considerably at one point, though, and there was debate whether he was down. Still, Cooks has shown enough this camp to prove how potentially devastating he can be off bubble screens, more than one of which he has taken for a big gain and touchdowns.
-Wide receiver Nick Toon went down with an apparent injury at one point. He left and came back to the field but didn’t participate in drills the rest of the practice.
-Former Bucs head coach Greg Schiano was out at practice Tuesday again, as he was Monday. He was watching at least one short-yardage rushing drill alongside OLB Junior Galette.