WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. — Davis Tull has a lot of catching up to do, although not from a mental standpoint.
Physically, Tull has to put in practice what he’s been learning in theory the past four months or so.
The fifth-round pick from Chattanooga has spent the summer rehabbing his shoulder after undergoing surgery to repair a torn labrum, but the rookie has been cleared to return to the practice field.
“I feel good on the playbook, but I need to get live reps,” Tull said. “Just being able to get out here in the walkthroughs and move around and do it, it helps a lot.”
Despite being back on the field, Tull still has to make do with limited reps in practice. Although he got some time in a goal-line scenario in Tuesday morning’s session, Tull is mostly being held out of full team work while he gets into football shape. Tull spent the summer working hard with the Saints’ strength and conditioning staff, but full football work is a different matter entirely.
“It’s hard to get in football shape,” Tull said. “You can’t really run to get in football shape. You have to be in pads. I could tell today.”
Despite missing the first three weeks of training camp, Tull believes he’s got plenty of time to get in the mix as a strongside linebacker and edge rusher, similar to the role fellow rookie Hau’oli Kikaha has played.
Three preseason games still remain for him to catch up.
“I think there’s plenty of time left,” Tull said. “Obviously, it’s been a jump, and it’s an adjustment from the NFL to college, but I think I’m up to the task.”
Austin Brown’s tenure with the Saints lasted about an hour.
The defensive tackle suffered a knee injury during a drill on Tuesday and had to be carted off the field. The injury left a hole at defensive tackle, which will now be filled by David Hunter, according to a source.
Brown went down during a one-on-one drill with guard Mike McGlynn. He will likely undergo surgery and should return to injured reserve after clearing waivers, according to a source.
A product of the University of Houston, Hunter initially hooked on with the Houston Texans in 2012. He landed on injured reserve during his rookie season because of a toe injury and was cut during training camp in 2013.
In 2014, he signed a futures contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers but returned to the Texans this summer and was cut again.
Over four college seasons, Hunter complied 22½ tackles for a loss and seven sacks.
Sean Payton is pleased with the growth he’s seen from Marcus Murphy this offseason.
In particular, the Saints coach said his running back and return man made strides during last week’s game against the Baltimore Ravens.
Murphy only had two runs for 2 yards, but he returned five kicks for 132 yards, which doesn’t include one for 49 yards that was negated by a penalty.
“Those little growth spurts will come at different times,” Payton said. “I think we saw one the other night from our returner (Marcus Murphy).”
Murphy is fighting to make the team as a returner with Jalen Saunders. His ability to serve as third-down back could help his case if C.J. Spiller’s knee injury lingers into the season.