Admittedly, Paulson Adebo wasn't bashful when he set foot inside the New Orleans Saints' locker room.
He knew his talent level and knew he was ready for the NFL, so the third-round draft pick likely was the least surprised person on Earth that he started all 17 games at cornerback last season as a rookie, and finished with three interceptions, eight passes defensed and 66 tackles.
"I think the confidence comes with putting in the work, seeing it on tape, seeing it translate," Adebo said. "So naturally the more you do, the more experience you get, the confidence comes more and more. But I came in confident, I'm still confident."
Thus, it's a reasonable presumption that the second-year pro is operating with an even higher sense of belonging this year in training camp, after emerging as a viable compliment to New Orleans' other cornerback, Pro Bowler Marshon Lattimore.
"He just has a better understanding of what we're doing defensively," Coach Dennis Allen said. "There's a maturity about that player which was there last year, but maybe a little more confidence in what we're doing knowing that, I belong."
"Playing 17 games, I started every game, so a lot of experience," Adebo said. "There are guys that have played maybe two, three years in the league and don't have that much experience. Having those live, in-game reps, knowing what it feels like, that really helps."
What helps, too, is that New Orleans' aggressive defense leans in to Adebo's preferred style of play. Thursday's training camp practice was highlighted by a couple of Adebo pass breakups, including a stretch-out PBU against receiver Marquez Callaway on the right sideline.
"When a receiver comes down and you're always challenging him, always challenging, that does numbers throughout the duration of a game," Adebo said. "As a secondary we just want to have that mentality of coming down and challenging guys every rep. If you catch the ball on me, it's going to be hard. We're not trying to give anybody easy releases or anything like that, just trying to be competitive on every play.
"We're gonna be nasty, we're gonna bump and run, we're going up there challenging receivers. We want people to know it's not going to be easy."
And Adebo wants to make sure that his level of play is exhibited consistently.
"I felt like last year was kind of flashes here and there, but just trying to put a whole year together and really be a complete player," he said.
The more complete he is – the more complete the Saints' secondary is – the better the defense overall will be.
"We've got Bradley Roby, Chauncey (Gardner-Johnson), Latt (Lattimore), Marcus Maye, P.J. Williams, Alontae Taylor – top down, everybody can perform so naturally that makes you want to push a little harder. We kind of just bring each other up.
"Naturally, we push each other. We all want to be kind of the same player. Throughout the duration of a season you're going to need three, four, five cornerbacks to step up. If there's no drop off between two, three, four or five, that's kind of what we want to have, everybody being at the tip-top of their game."
UNTIDY DAY: During the third straight training camp practice outside, the heat took the upper hand.
"I thought there were a couple of things that were a little more sloppy than I wanted them to be, but overall I was pleased with what we saw out there," Allen said. "Three straight days out there in that heat has been good for our players. I mean, it's tough, we've got to be able to push through those things. Having to deal with the elements is part of training camp.
"I just felt like the ball was on the ground a little bit more than I wanted to see it on the ground. Some of them, I think the defense made some good plays. Some of it, I think we just had a little bit of lack of focus, lack of focus, didn't look the ball in."
Two players – Gardner-Johnson and cornerback Bryce Thompson – left practice due to the heat.
NO TAYSOM: Taysom Hill didn't participate in practice Friday and will be sidelined for the immediate future. "He got hit in the ribs (Thursday), he's going to be out for a little bit," Allen said.
THE NEW NICKEL: Running back Mark Ingram wore No. 14 when he rejoined the Saints last season (after wearing Nos. 28 and 22 during his first eight seasons with the team). This season, he's wearing No. 5 after gifting No. 14 to quarterback Andy Dalton, a fellow 12-year veteran who only has worn No. 14 in the NFL.
"Andy's been 14 forever, since he's been playing football," Ingram said. "(He) kind of wanted it, asked me during minicamp. I don't have no connections to the number. I didn't really love the number, so I just did him that solid. We're both 2011 draft class, just looked out for him. And 5 is way better than 14."
BRING THE NOISE: Saturday's practice will be the first of 10 scheduled with fans in attendance. Ingram expects an adrenaline bump. "To have them out here at practice, bring some extra energy, some extra juice to the field, I think that'll bring some excitement," he said. "We're looking forward to it."
The New Orleans Saints took the field for practice during 2022 Training Camp presented by Rouses Markets on Friday, July 29.