There's noticeably less of Andrus Peat this year.
The New Orleans Saints left guard calculates a loss of 10 or 15 pounds from last season, but the weight loss coupled with the improved weight distribution gives Peat the look of a man who's dropped twice the amount of weight he says he has.
"I really tried to put emphasis on that this offseason really starting off with the just the weight room and conditioning," said Peat, who's listed at 6 feet 7, 316 pounds. "So I feel like it's definitely going to be beneficial just being able to finish blocks and sustain and just feel more athletic and feel better out there. So it's definitely going to be good."
"We always encourage guys in their offseason to make a total commitment to themselves, not only in gaining strength, but putting their body in position where they will be able to endure a season long of the competition and obviously the power and explosion that comes from that," Saints offensive line coach Dan Roushar said. "I think each and every year Andrus has grown. I think this offseason he's really challenged himself to get himself ready and I think it's going to be for the best."
Injuries caused Peat to miss six games last season, and three in 2018. Both were Pro Bowl seasons, but the six-year veteran visibly was hampered by injury even as he was proving to be one of the most versatile offensive linemen on the roster, able to move from left guard to left tackle when needed due to injuries at that position.
This year, he has missed training camp practices due to a thumb injury and in the immediate future, will have to play with some protective covering.
"I think our medical staff and Andrus have worked out something that will be very favorable," Roushar said. "He has exposure to all his fingers. That's really going to be big.
"Any time you have an injury like that, it makes it even more challenging. He's dealt with these things in the past and I would expect him to each and every week and improve. He's got experience, he's played with these things before and the one thing I've been most encouraged with is his offseason for him was outstanding.
"He's so much lighter, he's leaner, he's in the best shape we've seen him in and you could see that prior to the injury."
Peat said his slimming didn't require a drastic shift.
"It really was not a diet change," he said. "I just really started training right after the last game. Obviously, I missed some time during the season and came back for the last game and a half so I felt pretty fresh overall besides my arm I had surgery on.
"I would probably just say hitting it pretty hard right after, not really taking a break and just getting straight to it. Diet-wise just trying to make good decisions, but nothing spectacular."
The "nothing spectacular" has him feeling more energetic, and quicker. And it has the Saints feeling like the best of Peat is in the future.
"When you're leaner, we certainly see a little bit more quickness to him," Roushar said. "We felt like early we saw explosion to him prior to that setback and then I think the one thing that will happen is his conditioning levels will stay higher. He'll be able to finish stronger as the game goes on and his endurance will then have improved."
BRINGING THE NOISE: The Saints' Thursday practice in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome featured the pump-in crowd noise and music that will be allowed in fan-less NFL games this season. "Every team in the league is going to have kind of a crowd noise that's set at 70 decibels," Coach Sean Payton said. "So we had it at 70 for most of the practice and then when music played, it'll be at 75 (decibels). That really is through Week 1. That obviously can be adjusted based on where this thing goes relative to fans."
NO STONE UNTURNED: Thursday's practice included situations that included down-and-distance coming out of television timeouts, a halftime simulation complete with a trip to the locker room, and down-and-distance situations that were changed due to penalty. "It's a rehearsal, and we're trying to cover every detail possible," Payton said. "There's a few changes as to where we're at in our locker room based on the policies this year. All of these things (have to be addressed), so that on gameday, there's no surprises."
REST DAY II: For the second consecutive practice, quarterback Drew Brees was in attendance, but didn't throw. That gave extra work to backups Taysom Hill and Jameis Winston. "We get a chance in a practice like this, like yesterday, where we get a ton of reps for both Taysom and Jameis," Payton said. "It's kind of part of a planned schedule. We've kind of mapped out when we want players going, especially when it comes to the quarterback position."
FOURNETTE: The Saints are familiar with Tampa Bay's newest addition, running back Leonard Fournette. The former prep legend at St. Augustine High in New Orleans, and star at LSU, was a Jacksonville Jaguar his first three seasons and played against the Saints last year (20 carries for 72 yards, six catches for 46 yards in a 13-6 Saints victory). "You're familiar with the player, certainly with his career at LSU, it was fabulous," Payton said. "And then, we had a chance to play against him. That obviously is a good addition for Tampa Bay. It's another weapon, another type of runner that you have to account for. I think we're pretty familiar with his skill set and the things that he does well."
Photos from New Orleans Saints training camp practice on Thursday, September 3, 2020 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.