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Key observations from New Orleans Saints Training Camp: Day 9

Saints lose running back Eno Benjamin to injury

Full coverage of the New Orleans Saints workouts during 2023 Training Camp presented by Rouses Markets on Saturday, August 5.

1. Injury Bug Biting: Unfortunately, as we finished up the ninth practice of this New Orleans Saints training camp, as Coach Dennis Allen commented to the media post practice, this is the time of camp where injuries start to really occur. It's a part of football, and the challenge is to navigate through as best you can before the start of the regular season begins on Sept. 10. In the last few practices there have been two serious injuries. One was linebacker Andrew Dowell, who tore his ACL and has been placed on IR, and now on Saturday, running back Eno Benjamin appears to have ruptured his Achilles (as Allen mentioned post practice) and likely done for the year as well. Others who sat out Saturday's practice were guard Andrus Peat (quad), lineman Calvin Throckmorton (elbow), defensive tackle Bryan Bresee (calf), linebacker Demario Davis (calf). Wide receivers Rashid Shaheed and Tre' Quan Smith left practice a bit early with groin issues. Running back Kendre Miller also left practice for a bit with a jaw injury, but did return. As an aside, all the injuries besides Benjamin are assumed not to be serious, as Allen said. Safety Marcus Maye, left tackle Trevor Penning and right guard Cesar Ruiz did not practice with scheduled off days.

2. Red Zone Work: Saturday's practice marked the first time the Saints worked on red zone drills both in 7-on-7 and 11-on-11. Down, distance and yard line were changed throughout, all inside the opponent 20-yard line. During these drills it can get pretty physical, with not a lot of space and of course the offense trying to score and the defense trying to prevent the touchdown. Quarterback Derek Carr was very effective as the 7-on-7 (in this case 6 on 7) drills took place during the inside portion of practice, as he threw four touchdown passes in five attempts. Running back Alvin Kamara, receiver Keith Kirkwood and receiver Chris Olave were the recipients of the first three, but the final pass was the one that got the most noise generated by the offense. On second down from the 12-yard line, Carr dropped back and rifled one to tight end Foster Moreau, who ran a slant route from the left side to the middle of the end zone. After making the TD grab, Moreau then did his best Jimmy Graham impression and dunked the football over the crossbar on the south end zone. Moreau would add another TD a couple reps later, this time a 6-yard catch from Jameis Winston. When practice moved outside and the drill became 11-on-11, the defense would definitely even the score. The defense recorded back-to-back sacks on Carr by defensive end Cam Jordan and then defensive end Payton Turner. Turner and defensive end Tanoh Kpassagnon added another sack on Winston in the next set. As Allen mentioned post practice, it was very physical and there was a lot of give and take, but that's what you want during training camp.

3. Play(s) of the Day: Following an incompletion by Winston in the 11-on-11 drill mentioned just above, quarterback Jake Haener would get his chance. On the first rep headed toward the east end zone outside on the field parallel to Airline Drive, Haener delivered a perfect 10-yard back shoulder throw to tight end Lucas Krull (who really had a good day), who made the tough catch at the front left corner pylon against good coverage from safety J.T. Gray. After Krull made the grab, he spiked the ball fiercely onto the Bermuda grass. On the very next rep, Haener would roll right and found Krull again for a TD, this time in the back right corner of the end zone. Then to cap it off, on the third rep, Haener would roll right again. On this rep though he would do the big quarterback no-no, and throw back against his body toward the middle of the field. This time the ball went into the waiting arms of safety Ugo Amadi who stepped in nicely for the interception. Honorable mention as well to Olave and cornerback Alontae Taylor, who locked into two one-on-one red zone battles as the practice had just moved outside. Taylor was able to intercept Haener on the first rep in the back right corner and spiked the football. Then with Carr at quarterback, Olave would even it up with a tough catch in that same back right corner. Trash talking between both would ensue, giving the fans who were seated in that corner an entertaining show.

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