WEST SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. — And on the seventh day, the Saints rested.
A week after arriving here for training camp, the players, at least, had Tuesday off.
Not so much, probably, for the staff, which in addition to the ongoing evaluation of the current 90-man roster is preparing for the next three days, which will bring an increased physical level culminating with Saturday’s scrimmage.
With that in mind, here are six things we’ve learned about the Saints over the past six days:
1. It’s a good thing they didn’t draft Andrus Peat with the intention of making him an immediate starter at tackle.
Which they didn’t. But the team’s first-round pick came into training camp in admittedly poor condition and still looks soft.
Peat has been schooled by even such nonentities as free-agent linebacker Markus Pierce-Brewster, and Sean Payton’s saying nice things about Peat rings hollow.
That’s not to say that Peat won’t someday develop into a 10-year player like Zach Strief. But if either Strief or left tackle Terron Armstead go down and Peat hasn’t picked up the pace, we’ll be back to Bryce Harris time again unless another veteran is picked up after the final cuts, which would be no surprise.
2. Brandon Coleman is the flavor of the month.
Sooner than later, the Saints are going to have to replace Marques Colston, and Coleman, an even taller (6-foot-6) wide receiver than the 10-year veteran who’s 6-4, is looking more and more like that person as well as the leading candidate for the No. 3 receiver spot ahead of Nick Toon.
Coleman went undrafted out of Rutgers because of some health issues, spent last year on the practice squad, where he was able to heal while getting the hunger to play that comes from not being able to.
He doesn’t have great speed or the great route-running skills of Colston, but Coleman certainly has intriguing possibilities both for this year and down the road.
3. Drew’s still Drew.
If the Saints quarterback’s body is starting to betray him, it’s certainly not immediately obvious during the first week of camp, because No. 9 knows himself well enough to come along at the right pace.
That means we haven’t seen him testing his arm out that much. And while the tempo of practice is about to increase, he certainly hasn’t been placed in any positions that would be hazardous to his health.
Last year here, Drew Brees was dealing with a strained oblique, so we saw even less of him. The scrimmage will provide a decent look.
But until proven differently, Brees remains one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks.
4. Second-chance stories are always appealing.
Make those last-chance stories.
In this league, injuries render you quickly forgotten, and that’s why running back Tim Hightower and safety Kenny Phillips are among the easiest to root for bubble players here.
Hightower, remembered most by Saints fans for his 70-yard touchdown run on the first play of the Arizona playoff game in 2009, hasn’t played since 2011 because of a knee injury. But the five-year veteran is making a strong bid for a roster spot at a talent-filled position with his precise moves and bursts of speed.
Phillips, who hasn’t played since 2012, when he suffered a knee injury while with the New York Giants, has been running with the second unit at free safety.
There’s a ways to go, but on a team in need to veteran leadership, you could worse than these guys.
5. Where’s Jarius?
Jarius Byrd, the $35 million safety who lasted only four games last year before suffering a knee injury, and sat out of training camp in 2014 recovering from back surgery, has been a fixture on the sidelines thus far for undisclosed reasons.
Byrd, who will turn 29 in October, should be in the prime of his career. And yet he remains an enigma who has done nothing to justify being one of the highest-paid safeties in the game.
File this under something we haven’t learned.
6. Coming to the Greenbrier was a great idea.
Not to make you folks back home feel envious, but the high here today was 81, and the prediction for Wednesday is partly cloudy and 79.
And the humidity factor is virtually nil.
As Payton pointed out Monday, there’s no need for eight-minute water breaks, and thus practices have gone by so crisply that they finished early Sunday and Monday.
The players also like their accommodations — and who wouldn’t in a five-star resort?
There has been a noticeable decline in fan attendance for last year. That’s the combination of the novelty wearing off for area residents, the expense of making a second straight trip for New Orleans-area fans, and last season’s 7-9 record.
If coming here does anything to fix that, then it will have been well worth it.