WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, West Virginia -- Saints cornerback Patrick Robinson's arrow is definitely pointing upward after Saturday's training camp practice at The Greenbrier resort in West Virginia.
He excelled while rotating into the first-string defense, swapping spots with cornerback Champ Bailey opposite entrenched starter Keenan Lewis.
A sequence during an 11-on-11 drill best illustrated that. He broke up back-to-back passes, elevating over 6-foot-6 rookie WR Brandin Coleman to bat a pass out his hands even though Robinson was behind the towering receiver. Robinson's second break-up on the next snap was against WR Charles Hawkins.
Neither wideout Robinson denied is elite by any means. But he's running, back-pedaling and changing direction well; and he's fitting in with the members of a defense that were No. 2 against the pass in 2013.
Robinson, a first-round draft pick for the Saints in 2010, had a rough couple of campaigns in 2012 and 2013. In '12, as a starter, he was consistently beat on a defense that surrendered the most yards in NFL history.
Then, in '13, he was demoted and suffered a season-ending knee injury in the middle of a Week 2 game at Tampa Bay.
If Robinson has had a better day on the field since hurting himself than he did Saturday, there haven't been many.
Everyone not on the season-ending injured or physically unable to perform lists was present at Saturday's morning practice. However, Saints wide receiver Kenny Stills -- who had a quad issue Friday at practice -- rode the stationary bicycle while his teammates stretched and completed individual drills.
Meanwhile, PUP list members safety Jairus Byrd (back) and nose tackle John Jenkins (reportedly, pec) did conditioning work on the side. Non-football injury list member Tavon Rooks (back) was on the stationary bike and did conditioning work.
-During walkthroughs and drills, with Byrd out, Corey White -- who started eight total games at cornerback in 2013 -- got plenty of work as a third safety with the first string. He also played as a safety with the 2s. Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan loves versatility, and White -- who played safety in college -- will boost his longevity in New Orleans if he can be a viable candidate to man both spots.
-The Saints spent a middle portion of the practice working on kickoff returns. RB Travaris Cadet and WR Brandin Cooks (who fielded punts Friday) got the bulk of the looks with the first unit as returners. Under them veteran RB Pierre Thomas got some reps, as did bubble players WR Charles Hawkins, WR Andy Tanner and RB Derrick Strozier.
Coach Sean Payton said improving the punt and kickoff return games would be a priority this season. Among the reasons for that perhaps is the fact that the Saints haven't returned a kick of either kind for a touchdown since the first game of the 2011 campaign.
-CB Terrence Frederick -- who can't afford many missteps -- had a couple of errors during a defensive backs drill. On one, he dropped an interception; and on the other, it seems he showed poor technique. He had to redo the drill on which he apparently had poor technique, and he did a series of push-ups after each mistake.
-On the sequence in which Robinson had his two pass breakups, backup QB Ryan Griffin threw three straight incompletions that defenders got their hands on. The third one was a ball batted down at the line by NT Brandon Deaderick, backing up Broderick Bunkley.
-Tanner, a practice squad mainstay who was on the 53-man roster but inactive for Week 1 last year, had a nice moment working with the first-team offense. He hauled in a deep pass from Drew Brees on what appeared to be a blown coverage and ran in for the score, eliciting a, "Go Andy!" from a woman with a high-pitched voice in the crowd. After the score, Saints safety Kenny Vaccaro -- closest to Tanner -- spoke with a coach and Patrick Robinson.
-Saints All-Pro TE Jimmy Graham earned the loudest cheers of camp through Saturday. Griffin connected with Graham on a deep pass, and the TE ran through the end zone, jumped up and dunked the ball over the crossbar of the field goal. Though it was entertaining, that celebration will now be penalized after a decision to make that a point of emphasis in the spring for officials.
Remaining on Graham, he lined up at outside wide receiver a number of times Saturday. Observers found that humorous, given that the debate about whether Graham was a TE or WR was a prominent issue during the negotiation of a four-year, $40 million contract extension he signed July 15.
-In at least one communique from the Saints media staff, it was said Saturday's practice would be padded with live contact. But, like Friday's practice and those in the offseason, it was non-padded with no contact.