Notes and observations from Day 8 of training camp.
ATTENDANCE: CB Dylan Mabin, S Smoke Monday, LB D’Marco Jackson and DE Marcus Davenport were not spotted.
WR Rashid Shaheed worked out off to the side for the first time during training camp. He looked smooth running routes and shouldn’t be too far off from returning based on what we saw.
CB Marshon Lattimore left early with a trainer. He walked off the field without any issues.
S C.J. Gardner-Johnson again limited his participation in practice.
WR Mike Thomas went through the stretch period of practice but took the day off. Judging from other days, it looks like he’s on a schedule where he practices for three days and then takes one off.
TE Taysom Hill was on the field during practice as he rehabs a rib injury.
OVERVIEW: The Saints worked out in pads and worked heavily on the run game. There were some one-on-one periods and a major emphasis on special teams, including a punt period where the team got a good look at gunners and jammers.
IN THE MIX: Tony Jones Jr. has been slightly overlooked throughout the first week of practice, but the running back ensured everyone noticed him Thursday. Jones broke a few big runs, including one up the middle when he used a quick little cut to spring loose.
We’ve often been pointing to Malcolm Brown, Devine Ozigbo and undrafted rookie Abram Smith as the top options to back up Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram, but Jones was the best running back among them on Thursday. This battle certainly isn’t over, and Jones is keeping himself in the mix.
As we handicap this further, Smith and Jones might have an advantage over their competitors: Their ceilings aren’t set. Brown and Ozigbo are known commodities. Jones and Smith can still be viewed as ascending. Having the most perceived upside could be something that breaks a tie.
LANDRY DAY: Watching Jarvis Landry practice becomes more impressive when you see him work daily. He’s a steady presence who knows how to get open, make plays and take advantage of his opportunities. The veteran receiver made three catches Thursday, including a one-handed snag of a pass that appeared to sail on the quarterback.
Right now, Landry looks like someone who will prove to be a significant bargain.
RIGHT SPOTS: One thing that stands out when watching Pete Werner is that he’s consistently in the right place at the right time.
He played a few solid snaps during a rushing period that were unspectacular but notable because of the steadiness. He might not be the flashiest player, but he possesses good speed and instincts. Those are the traits that should make him an asset.
NEW FLASHES: Carl Granderson also played a few nice snaps in the running game, which is notable considering the defensive end has historically been a pass-rush specialist whose style of play makes him a liability against the run. Later in practice, Granderson bit badly on a play-action fake and robbed himself of a sack. So, there is some back-and-forth here, but it’s worth watching to see if he can develop into a more complete defensive end.
VICIOUS MOVE: Chris Olave’s jab step on slants is becoming a refined weapon. The rookie unleashed one of them during a one-on-one rep against Paulson Adebo and created a considerable amount of separation off the line of scrimmage. The Saints viewed Olave as one of the best route runners in the draft, and the rookie’s showing why they held that belief.
INSIDE ONE-ON-ONES: Outside of the aforementioned Olave rep, Adebo put on a show. He won his first rep against Deonte Harty, jumped a Jameis Winston pass to Landry and recovered to break up a deep pass to Olave in the end zone.
Here is the current record of each player in one-on-ones.
Kawaan Baker: 4-1
Marquez Callaway: 2-2
Dai’Jean Dixon: 3-2
Deonte Harty: 1-2
Jarvis Landry: 2-2
Kirk Merritt: 5-0
Chris Olave: 4-4
Tre’Quan Smith: 4-1
Kevin White: 3-2
Easop Winston Jr.: 3-3
It needs to be said that these records can be swayed by poor throws or other things outside the receiver’s control. Just noting here who has made catches on their reps.
Paulson Adebo: 5-6
DaMarcus Fields: 1-5
Vincent Gray: 2-5
Marshon Lattimore: 1-0
Dylan Mabin: 0-3
Bradley Roby: 4-5
Daniel Sorensen: 0-1
Alontae Taylor: 2-5
Bryce Thompson: 4-2
P.J. Williams: 1-0
For those new to the tracking of these plays, one-on-ones tend to play significantly in favor of the offensive players. It is not unusual for a defensive back to give up a bunch of plays. The nature of the wins and losses is what matters, and the top cornerbacks haven’t given up many easy catches. With that in mind, Thompson’s record is notable.
PASS-RUSH ONE-ON-ONES: Payton Turner returned to practice after missing a couple of days and looked good. He broke up a pass during team drills and won both of his reps during one-on-ones, beating Sage Doxtater twice.
Cesar Ruiz again split his reps, and rookie defensive tackle Jordan Jackson won one of his reps on a spin move. Rookie Trevor Penning won two of his reps and had a push on a third.
PLAY OF THE DAY: It has to be Olave winning his one-one-one rep with a vicious slant. The most encouraging thing about the play is he won the same way on Wednesday against Bradley Roby, demonstrating the route is consistently effective.