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John DeShazier: Andrus Peat got plenty of reps vs. Ravens

Posted Aug 17, 2015

First-round pick played left and right tackle

White Sulphur Springs, W. Va. – It’d be understandable if Andrus Peat’s head was swimming even more than the average rookie. Because Peat, the first of the New Orleans Saints’ two first-round picks (No. 13 overall), isn’t the average rookie.

The mammoth left tackle (6 feet 7, 316 pounds in your program) also has stood in as a gargantuan right tackle for New Orleans, as well as a massive left guard and a sun-blocking, shade-providing right guard.

In short, he has played every offensive line position except center during training camp at The Greenbrier. And while playing left and right tackle in the preseason opener against Baltimore, Peat took the most offensive snaps of any Saints player, about 81 percent of New Orleans’ 62 plays.

“He did pretty decent, he did pretty well,” Coach Sean Payton said. “He had a couple plays that I’m sure he can clean up but I thought, overall, it was a good start for him.”

“I felt pretty good,” Peat said. “A little sore, but I felt like it was a good opportunity for me to get some game reps and I felt good after the game.

“There are some things I did good, and my coach (Bret Ingalls) told me good job. And some little things, my technique and stuff like that, to improve on. So it wasn’t a perfect game by any stretch of the imagination, but I feel like it’s a good start for me.”

However harsh the grading system Peat was operating under, it’s relevant to note that never before in his career had he played both tackle positions in the same game. Before being drafted by the Saints, he’d never played on the right side at all.

“No, I’ve always played on the left side, so I’ve never switched before in a game,” he said.

“I started out at right tackle, I think I had, like, 30 snaps there and then about 20 more at left. So I felt fine, just got a couple of sets on the side during series and I felt fine.

“I like playing the tackle spots but wherever my coach wants me to play, I’ll do that for the team. I had a couple days where I was playing left guard and right guard and it was a little different because I’d never played guard. But I’m sure if that’s where he wanted me to play, I could adjust and play there.”

That versatility and willingness made Peat a high priority for the Saints in the draft. And it may get him on the field faster, though Payton said the vision remains for Peat to play tackle – likely right tackle, where he has had the majority of his practice reps. Terron Armstead, whose star is on the rise, is entrenched at left tackle, Peat’s college position.

The only known now is that Peat has been taking a ton of snaps, and likely will continue to do so, as he trains for several positions.

“I definitely say it was good to get out there and actually play in a game setting,” he said. “I felt like it was pretty similar to practice and I was playing pretty hard, so I felt good.

“It’s definitely helping me just getting that experience and also helping me with my conditioning – I’m starting to feel a lot better with that, as well.”

Peat struggled in that area maybe even more than the mental aspects of several positions. He said he was traveling for interviews after completing his college season and, like many players, allowed his conditioning to slip.

That problem is lessening as the days and practices accumulate.

“I feel pretty good where I’m at right now, probably around 320 (pounds),” he said. “So I’m feeling good as my legs are starting to get in shape with time.”

As the body and mind sync, the job becomes easier to perform. And Peat, who already hasn’t been an average rookie, will have the opportunity to be something much more than average.