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Key observations from New Orleans Saints Training Camp 2023: Day 3

First day with fans in attendance

The New Orleans Saints took the field for workouts during 2023 Training Camp presented by Rouses Markets on Friday, July 28.

1. Fans Are Back/Special Guest: It's always a highly anticipated day when the gates open at the Ochsner Sports Performance Center and the best fans in the world are able to see their team for the first time. Friday was that day. As the team came out of the indoor facility after the stretching period, they were greeted by thousands of screaming fans ready for a full practice. As the offense warmed up on the Airline Drive side field in front of the fans, every catch and every touch of the football by a wide receiver, tight end or running back, was met with applause and cheering. The loudest cheers were reserved for wide receiver Michael Thomas, who couldn't take a couple of steps without some fans cheering his name and yelling encouragement. Coach Dennis Allen mentioned after practice how great it is to practice in front of the fans and when they're out at the facility during camp, it always adds "more juice" to the workout. Quick note, also in attendance at practice today was Tulane Coach Willie Fritz, who was easy to spot with the sky blue polo and Angry Wave hat. Fritz was seen chatting with Saints and Pelicans President Dennis Lauscha, General Manager Mickey Loomis, and Pro Personnel Director (and former Tulane offensive lineman) Michael Parenton, while keeping a close eye on former Tulane player, rookie linebacker Nick Anderson. The Green Wave standout is getting reps at third-team linebacker and on special teams.

2. Haener Can Wing It: Quarterback Jake Haener, the Saints' fourth-round draft pick from Fresno State, isn't what you would call big in stature, listed at 6 feet 1, 200 pounds, but he has himself a powerful right arm. That was put on display fully during Friday's practice with some very impressive throws throughout his limited reps. It started on the final play of 7-on-7 drills when he found reeciver Lynn Bowden Jr running free down the left sideline. Haener uncorked a cannon shot down the field 40 yards, hitting Bowden in stride for an easy touchdown. During 11-on-11s the arm talent was on display again in back-to-back plays. First a tough 18-yard completion over the middle to wide receiver Bryan Edwards. On the next rep, Haener attempted a deep slant to rookie receiver A.T. Perry who had a step on his defender. Unfortunately, the ball was a tad behind Perry, who wasn't able to make the grab. Haener, the sixth quarterback selected in this year's draft, was able to fit another throw in a tight window to Bowden Jr. on a quick slant between defenders Alontae Taylor and Isaac Yiadom. Also what's been impressive watching Haener early in his pro career has been not only the arm strength, but the decisiveness with his decision making. Haener is sure to get a lot of reps during the next month of practice and especially the three preseason games, so Saints fans will able to get a much better look down the road, but those in attendance on Friday saw it up close and personal.

3. Play(s) Of The Day: In addition to the Haener TD completion to Bowden Jr. listed above, this was a pretty simple one. On the first play of 11-on-11 drills on Friday, quarterback Derek Carr dropped back and floated a short high pass out in the left flat for running back Alvin Kamara. Beautifully placed, the ball dropped right in Kamara's lap just as he was starting to hit full speed. Two steps later and that was that. A quick burst and he was in the clear for an untouched 62-yard touchdown which again reminded everyone in attendance who the best player on the field is. Kamara came to camp in great shape (as always) and continues even now in his seventh season to impress with his footwork, balance and speed. Another play of note came in the second 11-on-11 session. Quarterback Jameis Winston dropped back and looked right, 15 yards down field toward the near sideline, and unleashed a laser towards receiver Chris Olave who was blanketed in coverage by Taylor. Not only did Winston fit the ball in perfectly past Taylor, but Olave was able to bring in the ball keeping both feet inbounds and completing the catch, drawing ooohs and ahhhs from the fans in the stands who had a great look at it from their vantage point. As Olave got up and jogged back to the huddle, he engaged with some "playful" bantering with Taylor, who insisted Olave was out of bounds, but playing referee as the play happened right in front of me on that sideline, Olave was in.

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