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Key observations from New Orleans Saints Training Camp: Day 12

All three quarterbacks excel in two-minute drill Wednesday

1. Situational Football Continues: As the first preseason game for the New Orleans Saints is finally in sight, the team itself continues to add more game-type situations to its practice repertoire. On Wednesday, during the outside portion of practice at the Ochsner Sports Performance Center, we saw another twist to the two-minute situational drills. On this day, the offense was down 30-28 with 1:15 left on the clock and on their own 30-yard line. All three quarterbacks led game-winning field goal drives. Quarterback Derek Carr was able to get a reprieve on a fourth down incompletion as an illegal substitution penalty (called by special teams coach Darren Rizzi, which Dennis Allen mildly protested post practice) continued the drive. Three completions later (more on this in our next Key), and a spike with six seconds left, Wil Lutz would nail a 45-yard field goal from the right hash. Jameis Winston led his game-winning drive with methodical short passes, but very effective. A handoff to Ellis Merriweather to the 32-yard line and a timeout with four seconds left set Lutz up from 49 yards, which he would make. It took quarterback Jake Haener seven plays to set up Lutz for a 47 yarder with four seconds left. Lutz again would come through for the third time, making the final period of practice a successful one as far as the offense is concerned.

2. It's Time For the Tight Ends: It's been clear from day one of this 2023 training camp that the tight end position is going to be used and then some this season. A lot of that has to do with the personnel as its perhaps the most talented that room has been in almost 10 years. As the practices continue, it's becoming clear that the quarterbacks feel the same way. In 7-on-7, Carr's second rep was a 20-yard right seam route to Jimmy Graham. Winston threw to the newly signed J.P. Holtz on his first 7-on-7 rep then found Graham three plays later. In the 11-on-11 two-minute drill mentioned above, Carr threw back-to-back completions to Graham to get to the 44-yard line. Then, on second-and-two, another pass to a tight end, this time it was Taysom Hill to set up the game -winning kick. Winston threw four consecutive passes to Hill, with only the first attempt falling incomplete with a nice pass break up from safety Ugo Amadi. Hill had catches of 10, 11, and nine yards on the drive. Haener would find Foster Moreau on his drive for a gain of eight and two plays later would find Graham in the right flat for a short gain. Really interesting that perhaps the most athletic of them all, Juwan Johnson wasn't even targeted during that drill, but it's been pretty obvious during the practices that Carr is not shy about finding Johnson as a check-down opportunity or down the field for chunk plays. When the preseason games start for real, it will be interesting to see whether this trend continues.

3. Play of the Day: Not a whole lot to report, as there really weren't a lot of big plays. One big play that did occur was forced by rookie first round draft pick Bryan Bresee. During 11-on-11 drills with Winston playing quarterback, the 6-foot-5 305-pound defensive tackle timed the snap count perfectly, completely overwhelmed guard Alex Pihlstrom and engulfed Winston in the backfield, basically taking the attempted handoff himself for a big yardage loss. Defensive tackle Khalen Saunders cracked up the media post practice when he called Bresee "a 6-5 Gerber baby." The Saints drafted Bresee in the first round for the potential to make plays like this one with his sheer size and speed. As Bresee starts to round into form (remember he did not participate in any offseason activities) expect to see more plays like this, and look for him to get plenty of reps at first or second team defensive tackle, during the rest of camp and the three preseason games.