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New Orleans Saints left tackle Trevor Penning maintains aggressive streak, has shown improvement from rookie season

'I just play my game and if they don't like it, so be it'

From the end of last regular season – even though Trevor Penning suffered a Lisfranc injury to his right foot in that game which required surgery and forced him to almost all of the New Orleans Saints' offseason workouts – to the beginning of training camp, Coach Dennis Allen said he saw a ton of growth in Penning's game.

The second-year left tackle only played in six games as a rookie (a preseason turf toe on his left foot forced him to miss the first 11 games), but the honing of skills remained apparent.

Still, the edginess that is his calling card remains intact. Penning hasn't been involved in any dustups so far in training camp, but he was in the middle of two fracases last year, the second of which got him dismissed from practice.

"He's a very violent individual," quarterback Derek Carr said, smiling. "He wants to be physical, he wants to assert his dominance in the run game, in the pass game, all those kinds of things.

"Cool thing too is, (defensive end) Cam (Jordan) came up to him, was talking to him about something after our set, and you hear him like, 'Oh, yeah, yeah, I got you. That makes sense.' So as aggressive as he is, he's also willing to learn and grow as a player. I'm excited about him.

"He's a different cat, but you don't want everyone to be normal in the front when they're protecting you."

Penning is not normal. The first-round pick (No. 19 overall) goes as hard as the rules allow, often right to the very edge of the rule. It's a trait he's not attempting to corral, though it hasn't resulted in any post-play extracurriculars.

"I'd say I'm kind of the same guy, but obviously, got to keep my teammates safe and play smart," he said. "I'm still going to keep that aggressive side to me, that's kind of my trademark of how I play. That's how I've always played and how I envision offensive linemen should play.

"I just play my game and if they don't like it, so be it."

New Orleans likes it. Too, it likes the improvement Penning has made even though he couldn't work as totally as he would have liked due to his rehab.

"I really just tried to control what I can control," he said. "I tried to do the stuff during the offseason that I normally do, without using my feet. You can still do a ton of stuff, football-wise. You can still work your upper body, still hit the weight room, still work your punch and stuff like that.

"I just really control what I can control. It's been good, I definitely feel like I've taken a step from last year. Just want to keep continue the climb and keep progressing.

"My hands in pass protection needed to improve, and I think they have improved since even the first day this year. Just continuing to work at that and keep really perfecting my craft in pass pro and even run blocking. I think that's going to help a ton."

The New Orleans Saints took the field for workouts during 2023 Training Camp presented by Rouses Markets on Saturday, August 5.

Penning initially had to work through concerns that he'd feel the aftereffects of his surgery.

"Probably the first couple of practices, I was always like, 'Shoot, I hope this is going to feel good,'" he said. "I've heard with my injury a lot of soreness comes with it usually, but I haven't noticed any of that. It's pretty much normal. It doesn't bother me really at all, that's a really good sign."

It may be a sign that, after two major foot injuries that cost him 65 percent of his rookie season, his fortune is shifting. The turf toe injury resulted from him catching his foot in the turf, and he said he couldn't see on film where the Lisfranc injury occurred.

"It's definitely a lot of luck into that," he said. "It's not the greatest luck ever. There's also technique stuff that I can fix so it doesn't happen again, just changing up how I plant on my feet a little bit, having different orthotics in my shoes so I have the right weight on the right bones and not putting too much pressure on one side of the foot or anything like that. The training staff is doing a great job of helping me stay out there on the field.

"I'm trying to fix how I play a little bit so the chances of getting hurt aren't as high."

INJURY NEWS: Running back Eno Benjamin likely suffered a ruptured Achilles on Saturday. He was sent for imaging, but that was the initial diagnosis, Coach Dennis Allen said. Rookie defensive tackle Brian Bresee was held out with a calf injury, linebacker Demario Davis was held out and had some imaging done on his calf, and receivers Rashid Shaheed and Tre'Quan Smith both left practice with groin injuries. Allen said he didn't believe the injuries to Bresee, Davis, Shaheed and Smith were serious.

VET DAYS: Safety Marcus Maye, right guard Cesar Ruiz and Penning all had veteran off day/maintenance day absences from practice.

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