Saints’ top draft choice Peat in line for first start
METAIRIE, La. (AP) New Orleans Saints left tackle Terron Armstead has been ruled out for Sunday’s game at Philadelphia, opening the way for the club’s top draft pick, Andrus Peat, to make his first NFL start.
”This week, we’re looking at playing him at left tackle,” Payton said of Peat. ”His confidence is good. I mean, shoot, he’s a first-round pick. … He’s prepared and he’ll be ready.”
Armstead has not practiced this week after playing through a knee injury in last Sunday night’s victory over Dallas.
The 6-foot-7, 316-pound Peat was drafted 13th overall out of Stanford last spring.
He struggled with his conditioning during training camp, but teammates have been complimentary of Peat’s talent and progress during the past couple months.
”He’s a Stanford guy. He’s cerebral enough to handle the workload,” said defensive end Cameron Jordan, who played in college for Stanford’s arch rival, Cal. ”We’ll see what he can do in live fire. … He’s definitely come along the right way. If you had asked me six weeks ago, whatever, in camp, `Is he ready?’ I’d say, `You need camp to work him out.”’
Peat has been substituted into the lineup during parts of regular season games, including last Sunday while Armstead was temporarily sidelined. He has also lined up as a blocking tight end in certain situations.
”I feel really good right now,” Peat said, adding that he has been following veteran right guard Jahri Evans’ advice to get in some extra conditioning on his own nearly every day.
Peat, whose father, Todd, is a former NFL offensive lineman, played left tackle throughout high school and for three seasons at Stanford. He was drafted more as a right tackle because Armstead is in only his third season, while Strief is in his 10th. In the meantime, Peat has been learning to be the top reserve at either tackle spot, but his first opportunity will come on the side where he suspects will feel more natural to him.
”Playing football for (seven) years, I’ve always played on the left side,” Peat said. ”It feels pretty comfortable over there.”
Peat did not start playing football until high school because father did not want his sons to start too young and expose themselves to head injuries or burnout at a young age, the rookie said.
But he emerged as one of the best left tackles in a pro style system at Stanford. He saw a lot of playing time in the preseason at both left and right tackle, and said the veterans have been very helpful to him since he arrived.
”The older guys do a great job communicating with me and helping me out, so I feel real comfortable in there,” Peat said.
Right tackle Zach Strief has been among those who’ve worked most closely with Peat in meetings and during film study.
”Everyone feels really comfortable with him. He’s a super talented guy,” right tackle Zach Strief said. ”There’s just an unknown there because no one else has seen him play. But I think we all feel good about him and where he’s at and it’ll be exciting to see how he responds to a real game.”
As for justifying the Saints’ decision to make him their top pick, Peat said that is not something he’s concerned with.
”I really don’t think about it. When I’m out there I try to play my best each game and I really don’t think about anything else except what I need to do, my assignments,” Peat said. ”I just try to go out there and do the best to represent myself and my family.”
Notes: Saints punter Thomas Morstead also has been ruled out for Sunday’s game with a right quadriceps injury that occurred against Dallas. … Rookie defensive lineman Bobby Richardson, who took over a starting role last week following Akiem Hicks’ trade to New England, is questionable with a hip injury.
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