The Saints' Super Bowl defense started today as they took the field for the first day of mini-camp. The morning practice began at 10:15, the afternoon at 3:00. Both practices started with stretching and position drills, followed by 7-on-7 and a team scrimmage.
Many different players impressed with their play during the position drills, drawing praise from the coaches. WRs Marques Colston and Lance Moore ran crisp routes and did not drop a ball. With the absence of RB Pierre Thomas, Reggie Bush and Lynell Hamilton got a majority of the carries at running back. Drew Brees looked sharp during the position drills, but showed a little rust when he faced the first team defense for the first time. He threw two consecutive interceptions to CBs Jabari Greer Tracy Porter. Brees recovered though, finding WR Courtney Roby on two slant routes before completing a 20-yard pass to WR Rod Harper. First-round draft pick CB Patrick Robinson impressed many when he intercepted backup quarterback Chase Daniel's first pass of the day. Robinson, the Florida State product, looks to add to an already talented group of cornerbacks.
The right outside linebacker position served as a revolving door today, with Jo-Lonn Dunbar, Jonathan Casillas, and Troy Evans all competing for the starting job. Returning to the field from injuries last season were FB Heath Evans, S Chip Vaughn, and LB Stanley Arnoux. QBs Chase Daniel, Sean Canfield, and Greg Paulus all showed promise as they compete for a backup position. TE Jeremy Shockey was absent from the morning's practice after he suffered from dehydration last Thursday. However, he fully participated in this afternoon's practice, alleviating any health concerns. All-Pro FS Darren Sharper did not practice today as he nurses his injured knee. In Sharper's absence, Malcolm Jenkins played safety with the first unit. Sharper still remains involved at camp as a mentor to Jenkins, easing Jenkins's transition from cornerback to safety. Of the day's many great plays, two were particularly spectacular. The first came when QB Sean Canfield completed a pass to WR Larry Beavers. Beavers caught the seven-yard pass and avoided the touch of multiple defensive players en route to the end zone, sending the offensive players into pandemonium.
The second great play was a 25-yard pass across the middle from Chase Daniel to TE Tory Humphrey. Surrounded by four black defensive jerseys, Humphrey tipped the ball to himself and came down with the pass using only one hand. Saints who did not practice were FS Darren Sharper, CB Glenn Sharpe, WR Robert Meachem, and LB Clint Ingram. The team will practice Saturday morning at 10:15 (open to the public), Saturday afternoon (closed to the public), and Sunday morning (open to the public), weather permitting).