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New Orleans Saints kicker Wil Lutz has been accurate, confident self during standout training camp

'I feel like (the competition) has pushed me to be better. It's been a fun competition'

It wasn't just that Wil Lutz made his 62-yard field goal attempt during Sunday's training camp practice for the New Orleans Saints.

It's that he crushed it, so much so that it would've been good from another five to 10 yards out.

"There was a good wind behind me, (special teams coordinator Darren) Rizzi kind of knows when I'm grooving and just kind of let me have some fun out there," said Lutz, who unofficially has made 34 of 37 kick attempts during training camp. He said he mainly remembers the misses, 47- and 42-yard field goal attempts and an extra point.

"Right now I'm trying to get back to my old ways and find a rhythm," he said. "I didn't have a great day the other day, so I thought today was really important to bounce back and hit the ball well. Overall, I was happy with today and right now I'm in the business of trying to stack some good days together and get back to doing what I was doing in the past."

Lutz has picked a good time to be at his best, and not just because rookie kicker Blake Grupe has shown his own level of accuracy and power during the offseason and training camp. The competition is everywhere, even when it's not in his back yard.

"Blake is extremely talented," Lutz said. "You guys see it. We see it every day. He works hard, he's got the moxie to him to be in this league. (But) you guys act like I don't compete with everybody every year. And that sounds cliché, but the first five years I was here we didn't have a competition and I never looked at it that way.

"Right now, there's about 64 other guys in the league that I'm competing with, and that's just part of the business. Obviously, it's a little more close to home when a guy as talented as Blake is in the building. But we're making each other better, and honestly I've enjoyed it. I feel like it's pushed me to be better. It's been a fun competition, so we'll see how it plays out the rest of the way."

With each kicker taking turns, Lutz had his at-bat Sunday. In addition to the 62-yarder, he blasted a 52-yarder to end practice, after Coach Dennis Allen had called a timeout to freeze him and under the pressure of the team not having to run gassers if he made the kick.

"We did it yesterday with the young guy and put Lutz in there today," Allen said. "That's what this team's about, being able to operate under pressure. You've got 89 other guys expecting you to knock this thing through or else you're going to be running some gassers. It was good to see him knock it through."

Full coverage of the New Orleans Saints workouts during 2023 Training Camp presented by Rouses Markets on Sunday, August 6.

"That's fun," Lutz said. "There's a lot more to the game than kicking six field goals in a row. It's easy to get a rhythm when you're snap-kick, snap-kick, snap-kick. But on game day, I'm sitting on the sideline for three hours. You might kick a field goal in the first quarter and the fourth quarter, and that's it.

"So, I like that Coach has us doing that. I hope he continues to do it. It kind of puts pressure on you that you don't feel during training camp, and I think that's really important. That was a fun kick to make and hopefully we string a few more together."

Lutz said physically, he feels as good as last year, when he entered training camp after having missed the 2021 season due to a core muscle injury. But last year he connected on a career-low 74.2 percent (23 of 31) of his field goals. In four previous seasons with at least 30 field-goal attempts, Lutz made 119 of 136, 87.5 percent.

"I feel great," he said. "I felt great last year. Mentally, it was tough last year. I felt like I wasn't in the right head space coming out of 2021, and I was a deer in headlights. I felt like a rookie again.

"So, physically I felt great last year, physically I feel good this year. Really, it's a matter of getting back to that mental game that I've always been so strong in, that I really take pride in."

PRACTICE REPORT: Tight end Lucas Krull (tailbone) and guard Koda Martin (ankle) left practice early. "Nothing that I expect to be season-ending or anything like that, but we'll see," Allen said. "Koda Martin is probably the one we've got to evaluate a little bit more before we know for sure."

Allen also reiterated that he doesn't believe linebacker Demario Davis, who missed practice, is dealing with a major calf injury. "We'll monitor him and see how it's going," Allen said. "It's not going to be anything that's really significant."

Veteran rest/maintenance days went to safety Tyrann Mathieu, tight end Taysom Hill and right tackle Ryan Ramczyk.

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