The five biggest headlines from the first week of Saints training camp _lowres

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Saints tackle Andrus Peat (75) struggled with one-on-one pass protection against the team's veteran pass rushers in his first practice in full pads in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va.

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. — The first week of training camp has been a learning experience for Andrus Peat.

Those lessons haven’t always been gentle.

He’s become the subject of commentary about his action or inaction, just as it is for any first-round pick. But there have been more visible missteps than positives for Peat, particularly in one-on-one rushing drills, where the tackle has been beaten a number of times, creating a negative storyline around him.

Those criticisms aren’t unjustified. The team sees areas where Peat needs work as well, and at this point is taking a level approach with the rookie, trying to find ways to keep his spirits high while also using his missteps as a teaching tool.

“We’re at a position with him where we’re talking about, ‘How are you setting yourself up? How are you putting yourself at a spot to be successful?’ offensive line coach Brett Ingalls said. “We’re emphasizing what’s right — and obviously — then working on what’s wrong.

“I think even on those reps where you might say, ‘Well, he’s getting beat around the edge or something.’ No, there’s something positive happening. He just needs more reps.”

In some respects, Peat is a bit behind where he could be if the circumstances were different. He wasn’t allowed to report for the early portion of the Saints’ offseason schedule because of Stanford having a late graduation date. Then, when he finally reported, he was out of shape.

Ingalls said Peat is now in a lot better shape, and he is beginning to see more positives with each passing day. Still, he’s 2-5-1 in one-on-ones and has allowed a sack in team drills. It’s an uphill battle right now, but Peat says he can learn from his mistakes.

“The things I’m doing right,” Peat said when asked what he focuses on. “I try to keep those things and not mess up on those. Then the things I’m doing wrong, I just practice those after practice, before practice and talk to my coach about it.”

Peat admitted that there are times when he has felt overwhelmed by everything being thrown at him and that he was a bit surprised by the speed of the game at this level early on.

But there’s no rush. Terron Armstead and Zach Strief appear locked in as the starters. Right now, Peat just needs to get up to speed and settle in, which is what he’s working on. Taking some lumps is part of that process.

The Saints are confident he’ll do just that and they view him as someone who will do multiple things for this offense until he’s ready to lock down one of the tackle spots.

“I think he’s doing really good things at tackle. I still think he’s versatile,” Ingalls said. “He could play either side if we needed it. I think he could still play inside, jumbo tight end.

“I think the guy is what we thought he was. Very good athlete. Very large man. Like any young guy we’re going to give him time.”