The New Orleans Saints made it to and through their first training camp practice in full pads relatively unscathed on Tuesday, Aug. 3.
Receiver Tre’Quan Smith and cornerback Keith Washington II left practice early with apparent injuries, and defensive end Cam Jordan, left tackle Terron Armstead and linebacker Demario Davis were veteran players who were held out.
"We have a training camp schedule of either older players every fourth day, and then there'd be a couple of soft-tissue younger players, and we'll just kind of handle that," Coach Sean Payton said. "There was no one injured in that group, they'll be back out tomorrow."
As for the work in pads, Payton liked what he saw.
"I thought the first challenge when you're a new team and you're starting off, is understanding practice tempo and how to practice," he said. "I thought they did a good job handling it. I thought for the most part we stayed off the ground. We'll see the film but I thought we had some good periods, too. Third down was kind of an install today."
D-LIGHTFUL DAY: By and large, the first four training camp days belonged to the offense; very few pass attempts wound up on the turf, and none wound up in the hands of a defender. But Day 5 was one during which the defense showcased itself, especially in the secondary. In the first three one-on-one drills, cornerbacks Patrick Robinson, Marshon Lattimore and Ken Crawley forced incompletions by Jameis Winston before Winston connected with an open Deonte Harris against Brian Poole. But the defense picked right up where it left off, regardless of who was quarterbacking or what was the drill. Linebacker Zack Baun produced the first interception of camp with a pick against rookie quarterback Ian Book.
ADDED ZIP: Receiver Jalen McCleskey, who finished his college career at Tulane and whose father, J.J. McCleskey, was a Saints defensive back and receiver from 1993-96, has shown flashes of the acceleration he hopes can land him a roster spot.
"I think I can definitely bring speed," he said. "Whether it be deep threat, whether it be on special teams – playing gunner, punt return, stuff like that. Just being out there and being explosive
"I feel like I've handled (the early part of camp) well. Just getting in the playbook every night, we have meetings, just getting the corrections down from the practice before. I feel like I've adjusted well and I'm still adjusting, just getting used to how everything is run around here."
OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS: Only two defensive tackles in training camp (David Onyemata and Shy Tuttle) played regular-season games last year for the Saints, and one of them (Onyemata) faces a six-game league suspension entering the regular season.
So the chance is there for a player like Jalen Dalton to emerge and contribute.
Dalton, a free agent rookie last year, missed the season after suffering a triceps injury that required surgery in training camp. He said missing last season helped prepare him for the opportunity ahead.
"It was great to see the game from that perspective, honestly," Dalton said. "I had an injury that took me out and even before that, I hadn't had a season on a roster yet. So it was nice to see what it took to go into the week mentally, physically, just from the standpoint that I was in."