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John DeShazier: Saints return with 'smooth' practice after bumpy scrimmage

Efficient Saints workout ends with coaches running sprints

White Sulphur Springs, W. Va. – The New Orleans Saints returned to practice Sunday afternoon after an off day, but apparently the time was well used.

The substitution errors that hijacked Friday morning's Black and Gold scrimmage largely were eliminated by the time the team got back on the field in front of the largest crowd to attend a training camp practice this year at The Greenbrier.

"We did quite a bit of substitution stuff, that was clean," Coach Sean Payton said. "I said this to the staff the other day, (that) there were a handful of things that were real good in that scrimmage.

"The substitution thing is kind of like the bug in someone's meal – it could be a great meal and yet, you come away from it a little frustrated. We were able to clean some of that up today and focus more on some of the football elements of takeaways. I thought guys got set pretty quick."

Players agreed with his assessment.

Though most, if not all, of the errors were committed by players who do not comprise the No. 1 defense, everyone was involved in the cleanup process.

"We addressed that," linebacker David Hawthorne said. "That was kind of the elephant in the room and I think we handled it well. We came out and we responded. We fixed the problem and it was real smooth today.

"I think it was just one of those deals where when it got to scrimmage time, it was all over the place. Guys were focused and they were trying to do their best and put on a good show, and some things just slipped their mind. We got it all corrected.

"We addressed every problem, every substitution error. We kind of crossed every 'T' and made sure we got it corrected before we stepped out today."

What that led to was an efficient Saints workout, which concluded with the coaching staff running sprints. That was the tradeoff for kickers Dustin Hopkins and Zach Hocker making all of their field-goal attempts in practice, including respective 59-yarders.

"I thought it was what we wanted," Payton said, referring to the work accomplished in practice. "We hit a few periods that I thought we needed after the scrimmage. I thought the tempo was good. I thought it was pretty crisp, guys moved around pretty well."

Certainly, rookie offensive lineman Andrus Peat is among those who have been on the move.

Peat mainly focused on learning to play right tackle behind Zach Strief during the offseason, and that specialization continued entering training camp. But toward the end of last week he began to work in at left tackle – he played with the starters and backups at that position in the scrimmage, partly due to Terron Armstead sitting out the scrimmage.

Sunday, Peat worked at left guard with the second unit.

"(Peat) played in the high 30s in snaps in the scrimmage," Payton said.

"What we've been able to do, based on our personnel, if all of a sudden we're down in one position he's kind of been that guy that we want to see play the tackle position. He's been at right, he played left at the end of the week.

"And then we were down a guard today and we put him in at left guard. The key is to get the right five guys out there. When he's at left guard he's got his left hand on the ground, which is kind of similar to his college career. I do see him as a tackle and yet, I think he's got the athleticism to play inside. We felt like early in camp we wanted to do that."

The fact that Peat is working at guard doesn't cloud the vision the Saints have for him, Payton said.

"The vision when we drafted him was tackle," he said. "We'll keep moving him around. He's bright, he knows what to do."

The extra work is to be expected for a rookie, center Max Unger said.

"A lot of rookies are asked to do a lot of things, play positions they haven't played," Unger said. "I had to do that and I know they're asking him to move around quite a bit.

"It can only help you as far as knowing the offense and knowing multiple positions. They're trying to move him around, find a good spot for him to be in and get him some exposure."

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