WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. —Andrus Peat still has some catching up to do.
The Saints’ top pick struggled in one-on-one pass protection against New Orleans’ veteran pass rushers Saturday, his first chance in full pads.
First, veteran outside linebacker Anthony Spencer exploded off the ball and spun back inside, leaving Peat behind. Asked to take the very next snap against star defensive end Cam Jordan, Peat again struggled, allowing Jordan to turn the corner with an outside rush. Finally, Parys Haralson — who has mostly lined up at defensive end — beat Peat by getting him moving up the field and doubling back to the inside.
“There are some things that he struggled with and came back and repeated and did better,” Saints coach Sean Payton said.
Peat admitted at the end of the Saints’ summer minicamp that he felt like he had some catching up to do.
Because of an NFL rule that doesn’t allow rookies to begin workouts with their teams until their school’s academic year has finished, Peat missed most of the Saints’ organized team activities.
He felt the effects of the missed time once he was able to take the field. Peat quickly realized he had to fix his footwork and focus on bringing his conditioning up to speed.
“It was a big deal for us when we broke for the summer to make sure he was on a good plan,” Payton said. “I thought he came back in pretty good shape. He still has some work to do, but for a big guy, he moved around pretty well.”
The pairing of Rob Ryan and Dennis Allen has often been described as something of a fire and ice relationship, a juxtaposition between the colorful, outgoing Ryan and the serious, quieter approach of Allen.
But Allen thinks he might be getting the short end of the stick in that comparison.
“You guys make me out like I’m a stick in the mud,” Allen said. “I like to have fun, too.”
Allen, the former Raiders head coach and Saints assistant brought back to help Ryan, has taken over the secondary, while Ryan handles the defense’s overall scheme and focuses on the front seven during practice.
And they’re starting to have fun with all the questions about their relationship. Allen, a clean-cut guy in terms of appearance, joked that he tried to talk the long-haired Ryan into changing the dynamic a bit this summer.
“We were going to have him cut his hair and me grow mine out,” Allen quipped.
The NFL’s decision to suspend Orson Charles for the first gamedid not change New Orleans’ view of the young tight end.
The Saints were expecting a ruling to come down at some point.
“We were on top of all of that,” Payton said. “None of that was a surprise.”
Charles received a pre-trial diversion after pleading guilty to wanton endangerment in February stemming from an April 2014 “road rage” incident where Charles was accused of pointing a gun at another driver and making an obscene gesture.
When the Saints signed Charles to the practice squad in September, the organization was well aware of the potential for suspension.
Now Charles — a veteran with nine catches in three NFL seasons — is competing for the third tight end spot behind Ben Watson and Josh Hill.
“He’s been very forthright in communicating,” Payton said. “He’s been very open, I know, with the league and with ourselves.”
The day after the Saints’ release of Junior Galette became official, Payton said he’d be willing to talk to another coach or general manager about the possibility of signing the troubled pass rusher.
In the end, Payton didn’t have to.
Washington signed Galette to a one-year deal for the league minimum on Wednesday, but neither Redskins coach Jay Gruden mor general manager Scot McCloughan reached out to Payton.
“No, I didn’t have any communication with them,” Payton said.
Five observations from the practice field:
1 Rookie middle linebacker Stephone Anthony looked physical in the run game, scraping to the ball and making tackles behind the line.
2 Defensive tackle Akiem Hicks threw guard Jahri Evans to the ground during pass rush drills, continuing an impressive camp after losing 20 pounds.
3 New Orleans has stuck to mostly its base packages so far, particularly on defense, where the Saints have aligned themselves in a 4-3 on every snap.
4 The rookie defenders keep showing encouraging signs. Fifth-round pick cornerback Damian Swann played with the second team, looking physical in press man.
5 Rookie return man Marcus Murphy might have a case of the yips. After dropping a kick Friday, he muffed a punt Saturday.
Underhill & Erickson