WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. — Jairus Byrd, the Saints’ prized free agent a year ago, still has not taken the field for the morning session of any practice during training camp.
Byrd, who is trying to regain his old form after a season-ending knee injury last year, has been available for a few of the team’s walkthrough sessions in the afternoon.
Saints coach Sean Payton, who does not comment on injuries at this time of the season, has not revealed Byrd’s injury, and he declined a question about whether it was the same knee.
The Saints have said all along they do not expect Byrd’s ailment to be serious. The veteran safety is on the physically unable to perform list but went through OTAs and the team’s mandatory minicamp.
“I think he is progressing well,” Payton said. “I think sooner than later we are going to get a chance to see him — and at the same time, we are going to be smart.”
On the move
The Saints are testing out Andrus Peat in a couple of new spots.
Peat lined up at left tackle during team drills and got a look as a sixth offensive lineman in short-yardage situations — a role the Saints have used in the past.
“Part of it is rotation. You have to be able to have a swing position,” Payton said. “If someone is down, that would be pretty common.”
New Orleans has often used its backup tackle as an extra offensive lineman in the past.
“There will be snaps if we want a bigger body out there,” Payton said. “Typically it would be our next tackle. Without defining a role right now, he will certainly receive work at that.”
Peat struggled early in camp during one-on-one passing drills but turned it around Wednesday, going 1-1-1 in his three tries.
Left tackle Terron Armstead returned to practice in a limited capacity after being knocked out of action during Monday’s session. However, the Saints appeared to have at least three other players go down at various points Wednesday.
Cornerback Keenan Lewis and wide receiver Brandon Coleman, who were accounted for at the beginning of the morning session, were not spotted during team drills.
During the afternoon walkthrough, Lewis, Coleman and cornerback Delvin Breaux were not present.
It is not immediately clear what happened to the three players.
Offensive lineman Mike McGlynn, who was out of action in recent days with an undisclosed injury, attended the walkthrough.
The Spiller protocol
C.J. Spiller was kept under wraps for much of the first week of camp, limited to runs and basic screen passes.
But with the base offense now installed, the Saints have started to get more creative as they move deeper into the playbook.
The first glimpse of how Payton might use his new running was revealed Wednesday. Spiller lined up all over the field, taking snaps out of the backfield, split out and from the slot. He caught at least two pasess during the practice while lined up as a receiver.
When coming out of the backfield, he has also run more complex routes and worked vertically instead of just laterally.
As more of the offense is installed, it’s likely that Spiller’s role will continue to grow and become more complex.
Five observations from the practice field:
1. With CB Keenan Lewis out of action, last year’s second-round pick Stanley Jean-Baptiste worked with the first-team defense. It’s been a nice rise for him.
2. Coverage sacks are on the rise. DE Cam Jordan had two on Wednesday, coming 4.53 seconds and 5.02 seconds after the snap.
3. K Dustin Hopkins hasn’t missed a kick in camp. Zach Hocker, meanwhile, missed another one from 32 yards.
4. WR Seantavius Jones got pulled off the field for apparently lining up in the wrong places last week, but he said the mistake was actually made by someone else.
5. QB Garrett Grayson needs some work. While he’s had some positive moments, he sailed a pass right into the arms of Vinnie Sunseri.