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Key observations from New Orleans Saints Training Camp: Day 13

Olave having a strong training camp

1. Smooth Olave: Second-year wide receiver Chris Olave is looking to improve on a pretty solid rookie season. With 72 catches and 1,042 yards he became the third New Orleans Saint to have more than 1,000 yards in his rookie season. A couple of things that Olave and Coach Dennis Allen mentioned after the season had ended, as far as what Olave needed some improvement on, was making contested catches and gaining some strength. Well, 13 practices into this training camp, it appears that Olave definitely worked hard in the offseason. He has had a very good camp, just going about his business every day just making catch after catch. On Thursday's indoor workout at the Ochsner Sports Performance Center, Olave continued to impress, especially during the wide receiver vs defensive back one-on-one drill. Olave won all three of his individual battles, including an outstanding play down the right sideline against cornerback Alontae Taylor. From the 20-yard line quarterback Derek Carr threw a high, soft pass toward the back right pylon. Olave would leap over Taylor (who had very tight coverage), and come down with it, staying in bounds for a demonstrative touchdown. Olave would haul in two more touchdowns during the period, with two more back right pylon catches against Isaac Yiadom and Paulson Adebo. These types of plays are becoming frequent during these practices, and we've already seen some of the chemistry during team drills with Carr and Olave, and we should see much more of that in the next couple of weeks as the Saints finally start practicing and playing against other teams.

2. Roach Motel: As we switch to the defensive side of the football, another member of what has been an improving defensive line group is nose tackle Malcolm Roach. The fourth-year veteran from Texas, and Baton Rouge native has battled injuries the last two seasons, spending time on IR in both of them. This training camp, Roach has come in healthy and fit, and its been showing during the practices. Allen mentioned to the media Wednesday that Roach isn't your typical nose tackle. He's a little bit lighter (290 pounds) and is able to make plays outside the center/guard box using his mobility left or right. On Thursday, Roach would make his presence known again. In 11-on-11 drills, rookie running back Kendre Miller took a handoff from Carr and immediately was inhaled by Roach. A bit later, Roach would make another tackle for a short gain against Miller, this time with Jameis Winston at quarterback. Finally, to cap off the practice, it was running back Jamaal Williams turn as he took a handoff from Winston and attempted to run to the left side. He didn't make it very far, as Roach was there again for no gain.

3. Play(s) of the Day: It was getting a little iffy for POD. As the practice rolled on, the aforementioned Olave catch over Taylor was the front-runner. Then we got a winner during the last period of practice in 11-on-11 drills. With the ball at the plus 20 and Jake Haener at quarterback, New Orleans native and former LSU Tiger Foster Moreau raced down the left sideline. Moreau had a step on linebacker Ty Summers who was right on Moreau's right hip. The ball from Haener was a hair under thrown, and that allowed Summers to get a hand on the ball, popping it straight in the air at the 3-yard line. Unfortunately for Summers, that was the extent of his part of the play. The deflection popped into the air, and into the waiting arms of Moreau, who made the catch and waltzed into the end zone. Foster was so fired up after the catch that he did his best Blake Gillikin impression and unleashed a punt of said football, though not hitting the roof of the indoor facility, as Gillikin seemingly does every time he takes a rep inside. Two reps later, Haener would roll right at the 15-yard line and make an ill-advised throw into a crowd of defenders where undrafted rookie defensive lineman Jerron Cage was laying in wait for an easy interception. As Cage turned upfield the much smaller Haener (outweighed by nearly 100 pounds) actually tried to tackle Cage straight on. Thankfully, after a bit of a collision, no further damage was incurred after the pick, but you have to respect Haener's willingness to risk life and limb.

The New Orleans Saints took the field for workouts during 2023 Training Camp presented by Rouses Markets on Thursday, August 10.