<span>An extremely enthusiastic crowd of 3,108 turned out this morning for the Saints' second open mini-camp practice in Metairie.
The defense received a boost with the appearance of Saints first round draft choice CB Malcolm Jenkins, who arrived late last night. Jenkins said following practice that he spoke to all of his professors at Ohio State and asked if he could take his final exams a week early in order to get the opportunity to join the Saints for the weekend. The native of New Jersey said he completed three term papers and took three final exams in the past few days and was a bit mentally drained but excited to join his teammates.
Jenkins wasted little time making his presence felt in team drills, as he turned in a nice pass defensed during offense against defense drills when he read the receivers route and quickly turned and used his long arms to stretch in front of a receiver and bat a pass down.
Other highlights from this morning's session included:
-DT Sedrick Ellis snaring RB Pierre Thomas at the line of scrimmage.
-TE Marvin Mitchell/Billy Miller.aspx">Billy Miller making a nice catch from QB Drew Brees for a 15-yard gain.
-LB Jonathan Vilma corralling Thomas on a toss sweep play.
--Vilma jumping up from his middle linebacker spot and knocking down a Brees pass.
-A hard inside run by RB Mike Bell. On the play, CB Tracy Porter came up and deftly punched the ball loose and LB Tory Evans alertly pounced on it.
-DE Bobby McCray batting down a QB Mark Brunell pass at the line of scrimmage.
-WR Devery Henderson tracking down a long bomb from Drew Brees against man-to-man coverage for a touchdown.
-Vilma and LB Mark Simoneau teaming up to stop rookie RB Herb Donaldson at the line of scrimmage.
-DT Remi Ayodele and S Chris Reis joining forces to sack QB Anthony Hargrove/Joey Harrington.aspx">Joey Harrington.
-A coverage sack where the secondary and linebackers blanketed the eligible receivers and forced Harrington to scramble out of the pocket.
-DE Will Smith and DE Charles Grant halting Thomas near the line of scrimmage.
-Brees completing a nice pass to FB Pierre Thomas/Heath Evans.aspx">Heath Evans on a wheel route out of the backfield for a 10-yard gain.
-Brees hooked up with WR Robert Meachem for a gorgeous play deep down the middle in front on a diving FS Darren Sharper.
-TE Jeremy Shockey making a nice catch and run for a nice gain.
-Brees to TE Buck Ortega, who had found a crease in the zone defense and quickly turned around to give Brees an open target that the quarterback zipped an intermediate pass into.
-SS Roman Harper jumping a route by Robert Meachem and forcing a pass to fall incomplete.
-FB Darian Barnes making a nice reception in traffic and pinballing through some would be tacklers.
-DE Garrett Hartley/Paul Spicer.aspx">Paul Spicer recording a sack of Brunell.
-RB Lynell Hamilton making a nice catch and run out of the backfield.
-Shockey catching a pass in front of Sharper, who reached in and wrestled Shockey for the ball as the two fell to the grass field. Shockey retained possession of the ball.
-Meachem making a nice reception downfield from Brees.
-CB Tracy Porter knocking down a pass along the sideline.
-CB Leigh Torrence also recorded a pass defensed when heavy pressure on Brunell forced the veteran signal-caller to get rid of the ball a few seconds earlier than he would have liked.
-Spicer getting to the quarterback for what would have been his second sack of the morning session.
-Hamilton catching a scree pass and turning it into a 60-yard gain. On the run he displayed several nice open field moves along the sideline before Porter finally reeled him in.
-S Chris Reis knocking down a pass.
-DT Sedrick Ellis hustling to the sideline to defend a screen pass intended for Mike Bell.
Notes: Vilma said following the practice, "Our defense is digesting a lot of information and doing a nice job of transitioning from the classroom to the field. The turnovers will come, right now we are getting out hands on some balls and coming close to making some big plays. The more we get comfortable with the new defense, the sooner those plays will start to happen. We are getting close. There is a lot of hustle and energy out there and we are challenging our offense, which is making us all better."
RB Reggie Bush was limited this morning and said it is all part of the plan as he makes his way back into form following the knee injury that sidelined him late in the season. "It's coming along very well and it's all part of the plan."
Bush also said he is very impressed with the running backs corps and feels confident that the group is ready to hit training camp. "Every back we have brings something different to the table and the competition is good amongst us. We, as a group, have good chemistry and are ready to roll."