Saints’ late practice helps full team take field
Lance Moore figures he has some catching up to do, even if at
times it seemed defenders were having trouble catching up to
Moore was among 28 players practicing with the New Orleans
Saints on Thursday night for the first time since training camp
began a week ago.
”We are a little bit behind, but we will catch up,” Moore
said. ”There’s plenty of time.”
Moore made several catches in his first practice against the
Saints’ first-team defense, including one over-the-shoulder snag of
a long Drew Brees pass down the right sideline. Meanwhile, newly
acquired running back Darren Sproles seemed to have little trouble
turning short catches out of the backfield into long gains in his
Saints practice debut.
”It was just great to have the full squad out here today,”
Brees said. ”We got great work done. It was fun to see guys like
Lance back. … We’ve got some exciting players.”
Other players practicing for the first time in this camp
included two-time Pro Bowl safety Roman Harper, newly acquired
defensive tackle Aubrayo Franklin, starting left tackle Jermon
Bushrod, starting guard Carl Nicks, tight end David Thomas,
defensive end Turk McBride and linebacker Scott Shanle.
None of them would have been able to suit up if not for a
schedule change Wednesday evening, when head coach Sean Payton
decided to move practices that had been originally scheduled for
the morning to evenings for the rest of the week.
That allowed Thursday’s practice to start after the NFL’s new
labor agreement had been ratified.
Harper said he was notified he would be able to practice less
than two hours before players took the field.
”I had to go get strapped up and get mentally ready,” Harper
said. ”I started off a little slow, but overall, at the end of the
day, I felt really good.”
The Saints also had to make some cuts to keep their training
camp roster at 90. Five of the players released were rookie free
agents and one was running back Lynell Hamilton, who had been with
the club since 2008 but missed last season because of torn right
Payton said cutting Hamilton was a decision he struggled with
and speaks more to the Saints’ depth at the position than
”That was probably one of the most difficult decisions of
waiving a player that I’ve gone through. He’s done so much to stay
here and get healthy. His work ethic is amazing,” Payton said.
”He’ll have a good shot at possibly signing on with another
Thursday night’s practice also marked the first time players
competed in full pads. There was no tackling, but some hitting was
unavoidable and Pierre Thomas came up limping after one carry
during which he burst through a cluster of defenders. Thomas, who
missed 10 games last season with a left ankle injury, was favoring
his left leg again, but called it a minor ”tweak” and said he
would be fine.
Franklin, meanwhile, said he expects to be a good fit in New
Orleans even if he does not start. He said he chose New Orleans as
a free agent because he expects to see plenty of playing time and
expects the Saints to contend for a title.
”I’m here with guys who have won a Super Bowl and have all the
talent to do it again,” Franklin said. ”Drew Brees is a great
quarterback, great offense, and the defense is good. I just felt
like I could come here and contribute this year.”
Franklin will be rotating with Sedrick Ellis and another new
lineman, Shaun Rogers.
”With the tandem that we have, all of us bring something to the
table,” Franklin said. ”If we all go out there and go hard, we
can be one of the most dominant defensive lines in this
There remains one question on the offensive line, however, after
former starting center Jonathan Goodwin signed a free-agent deal
with San Francisco on Wednesday night.
Second-year pro Matt Tenant is now the first-team center,
although that could change if the Saints decide to bring in another
Brees said Tennant has done well in camp and has come a long way
since he arrived in New Orleans as a 2010 fifth-round draft pick.
Payton, however, cautioned that it can be challenging for a young
center to get comfortable helping the quarterback call out blocking
assignments at the line of scrimmage.
”In the passing game … there’s a lot of communication that
takes place between Drew (and) the center that’s echoed out to the
guards and tackles,” Payton said.
The Saints will have had only seven practices as a full squad
before they play their first preseason game against San Francisco
on Aug. 12. Payton said his staff will take a methodical approach
to installing their schemes nonetheless, meaning they may have done
very little work on goal-line offense, for example, by the time
they host the 49ers.
”I don’t want to be in a rush to have everything in,” Payton
said. ”The mistake would be if we tried to get everything in
quickly instead of trying to make it right.”
Notes: The five players cut beside Hamilton were: TE Harry
Flaherty, T Mike Smith, T Coy Beilby, QB Ryan Colburn and RB C.J.
Gable. … The Saints also signed former Chicago and Arizona
cornerback Trumaine McBride. … Missing practice because of
injuries were CB Tracy Porter (knee), RB Chris Ivory (foot), DE
Greg Romeus (knee), LT Charles Brown (hamstring), WR Michael
Galatas (knee) and LB Ezra Butler (hamstring).