We finally got our first look at the Saints in action. Remember, these are organized team activities. It’s extremely early. The things we see likely won’t hold, or may not even be an indication of what the team is thinking.
With that said, here are a few observations:
Attendance, please: Brandin Cooks, Jairus Byrd, Jack Tabb and Kasim Edebali worked out off to the side. Mitchell Loewen, Jamarca Sanford, Tommylee Lewis and Sione Houma rode bikes. Keenan Lewis, Cam Jordan, Bobby Richardson and Davis Tull did not participate in team drills. Undrafted offensive lineman Avery Young was not spotted at practice. Tim Lelito also did not practice.
Safety look: With Jairus Byrd sideline, Erik Harris and Vonn Bell played the deep safety role in nickel packages with Kenny Vaccaro roaming the box. Vaccaro was all over the field. He often blitzed, covered slot receivers and played deep as the strong safety. Vaccaro had a few nice blitzes in nickel looks with Stephone Anthony and Dannell Ellerbe handling the linebacker duties.
Defensive end shuffle: Hau’oli Kikaha and Davis Tull received their work with the defensive ends during individual drills. Kikaha played Jack during team drills. Obum Gwacham worked some as the strongside defensive end. Kikaha recorded sacks on back-to-back plays at one point working against a second-team offensive lineman.
Rookie work: David Onyemata received some snaps with the first-team defense, but coach Sean Payton said that was more due to the team mixing guys around and trying to get players snaps in different packages. With Brandin Cooks out, Michael Thomas appeared to be working high in the rotation.
Offensive line shuffle: Andrus Peat received snaps at right guard with Senio Kelemete working at left guard. Payton said Peat has been receiving work at both positions.
Grayson: People are going to see what they want to see, but quarterback Garrett Grayson appeared to be more in command than he was at this time last year. He threaded two really nice passes down the field to Kyle Prater and Josh Hill. The one to Hill came up the seam and over the arms of a defender. He hit Kyle Prater on an out route earlier in practice over a defender, but the pass was not reeled in.
Defensive play of the day: Didn’t catch who it was on, but Delvin Breaux dove to break up a pass during team drills. He still looks good. Vaccaro also had a nice PBU. He was the most active player on the field.
Guys to keep an eye on: Wide receivers R.J. Harris and Jared Dangerfield caught my eye at different points throughout the practice. It’s early, but they We’ll be keeping an eye on them moving forward.
Putting in work: James Laurinaitis and Anthony mixed in and out in the nickel package. You could see the veteran directing traffic and getting guys lined up already at this early juncture. He should be a settling presence for this young defense.
Position switch: Kaleb Eulls moved from defensive tackle to guard. Sean Payton said he feels like Eulls had the skills to make the switch.