New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton on Monday morning said that one of the possible solutions to trigger improved offensive line play for the Saints, as they near the regular-season opener on Sept. 11, is to shift right guard Andrus Peat to left guard.
Peat, New Orleans' first-round pick in 2015, primarily was drafted to play right tackle and was envisioned as a possible starter at right guard until he was ready to shift to tackle, which currently is being manned by 11-year veteran Zach Strief.
But Peat received playing time as a rookie at left tackle and left guard due to injuries along the offensive line, and hasn't adjusted to playing right guard as quickly as Saints coaches had anticipated.
The starting offensive and defensive lines were identified as areas of concern by Payton following the Saints' 27-14 loss to Pittsburgh on Friday night in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in the team's third preseason game.
"I think we've got a group of guys that have played quite a bit," Payton said of the offensive line. "Peat played a lot of snaps a year ago. I expect him to be better. Now, it might be more over on the left side. We've moved him around enough, and we've got to settle in on where we feel like this player's going to play, whether it's the right or the left side.
"I think Strief, by and large, played pretty well last weekend. I think (Tim) Lelito and Senio (Kelemete) are competing for that (other guard) spot and I think we've got to pay attention closely to what we think we can do well and try to highlight that some. They're still a work in progress and obviously, it wasn't good enough this past weekend."
After the game, Payton said close attention would be given to lineup adjustments, whether from among players currently on the roster or by other means.
"When we drafted (Peat), we definitely saw he was a top-flight tackle," Payton said. "Now, can he play guard? Well, last year, he played (almost 200) snaps at left guard and we think there's a size element and athleticism that we saw on that tape. He hasn't played very well over on that right side so we've got to keep looking and to pay close attention to it.
"I was hoping that we were able to put him in one spot. I know what he can do well and we've got to find a way for him to be at a high enough level inside, and I think we can get that done.
"I expect him to be a real good player for us for a long time. But as coaches, we have to be better in regards to giving him that chance to develop. And we will be.
"All of these guys are playing multiple positions. But as a young player, I think it's just been a little bit more challenging for Peat and I think we, as coaches, can be better at getting him settled in."
Payton also said the next several days, when NFL rosters will be trimmed from 90 to 75 (by 3 p.m. on Aug. 30), then 75 to 53 (by 3 p.m. on Sept. 3), will be critical in terms of identifying players that might be candidates to upgrade the Saints' roster.
"This next week, this next 10-day period, there are going to be some good football players that shift from one team to another via a lot of different ways – via from trade, waiver, claims and/or free agency," he said. "I think it's an important week to focus on your own club: How do we improve the roster? There's some internal solutions – this player needs to play better, this player maybe plays over that player. I think the solutions lie two-fold."