The Saints went back to work to prepare for their Week 4 game against the Dolphins in London.
London – Selecting offensive tackle Ryan Ramczyk with the final pick of the first round in this year's draft has turned out to be one of the best offseason moves the New Orleans Saints made.
Ramczyk – the selection obtained via the trade that sent receiver Brandin Cooks to New England – has started at left tackle in the season opener, flipped over to start at right tackle the next two games, and is back at left tackle to start Sunday against Miami in Wembley Stadium.
Granted, his inclusion in the starting offensive line has come due to injury replacement. When left tackle Terron Armsteadinjured his shoulder and required surgery and rehab that sidelined him all of preseason and each of the first three regular-season games so far, Ramczyk, a left tackle in college, stepped into the position. And when right tackle Zach Striefinjured his knee in the season opener, Ramczyk, who was brought in to apprentice at right tackle and to eventually assume the mantle as starter, moved to the right side as Andrus Peatbumped out to left tackle from left guard, and Senio Kelemeteplugged in at left guard.
But the rookie appears to have been unfazed by the shifts, and will do so again; Strief appears ready to return (he practiced on a limited basis Wednesday) and with that, Ramczyk goes back to left tackle, with Peat returning to left guard.
"You never know with an offensive lineman, the (learning) curve," Saints Coach Sean Payton said Thursday morning in a teleconference. "There's a lot that goes into that position.
"He played on the left predominantly during his college career, our vision for him was getting over to the right side. The one thing I'd say, his makeup and his football IQ, when you're around him, I don't know that you feel like you're around a first-year player."
THE SUH FACTOR:Dolphins defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh has been a dominant player for most of his eight-year career (NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2010, six-time All Pro, five-time Pro Bowler).
He presents unique challenges as a 6-foot-4, 304-pound interior force. Suh, who has 47 career sacks, 26 passes defensed and three forced fumbles in his career, has eight tackles and a forced fumble in two games this season.
"He's explosive," Payton said. "I think one of the challenges is he's extremely instinctive. He'll time up the cadence. I'll bet there's five, six snaps already this season where you can see – you can stop the film, and the ball is just being snapped, and he's the only one out of his stance. He's very good that way – anticipating get-off. He'll play at the three (technique), there'll be some times he's playing at the nose. But I think his power and explosion, along with his timing and instincts, make him so good.
"A lot of times in our league, first contact wins. And often times, he has first contact."
A LETHAL JAY:If Suh brings the physicality on defense, running back Jay Ajayiseems to supply it on offense for Miami. The London-born Ajayi (6-0, 223), has 39 carries for 138 yards this season. Last year, he ran for 1,272 yards and eight touchdowns on 260 carries in 15 games and had three 200-yard rushing games.
"He's strong, with good balance," Payton said. "I think he's elusive. There's a physical style in how he runs that is very noticeable. Periodically, you come across runners like this and I think it forces you to play with the correct pad level and to get the 11 defenders to the ball.
"He's tough to take down, tough in space. He's got that physicality to him where he can easily break a tackle or embarrass a tackler. Like a lot of great backs, if he's got some clean air at the beginning of the run, it's generally going to be a positive play. So the key is to try to prevent that from happening."
HIGH MARKS:Payton had high praise for the fields at The Hazelwood Center, the training grounds for the London Irish, an English rugby club which is hosting the Saints' practices this week. Payton spoke with several members of the Irish after Wednesday's practice.
"I thought the experience was great," he said. "No. 1, I think the fields are in good shape, the facility is perfect. It's a very similar grass to what we're going to be playing on (Sunday).
"Generally, when you go have a practice like that, maybe 50 percent of your team has been on a surface like that before, and then there are the guys from Florida and Texas that have been playing on more of a Bermuda (grass) or FieldTurf all their life. Proper shoes, all those things are things are required to get used to the footing.
"But I thought they were great hosts, we'll see them again today out there. We enjoyed just having a chance for them to come watch practice."