The battle for the punting job on an NFL team never is going to garner similar attention to the battle for quarterback. The New Orleans Saints might not even have one: The team liked Blake Gillikin enough last year to keep him on injured reserve while Thomas Morstead completed his 12th season with the franchise.
But there's another punter, Nolan Cooney, in the mix. Gillikin handled punting duties the first day of training camp in the Saints' indoor practice facility, and Cooney punted Friday when the team worked on the outdoor fields.
Coach Sean Payton said that there's a reason that the Saints have two punters in camp.
"Part of it is being smart with the legs, but you're looking at young talent," Payton said. "It's not that you just have two punters, you found a second one that you think has got ability. You watch (Cooney on Friday) and it was a little boom or bust when he was kicking, but when it was boom, it was pretty good.
"So it's not like you set out to say, 'It has to be this amount.' It's only that amount if you feel like you have another candidate that you want to develop. Overall though, it's a little bit easier position to grade than some, right? You've got the stats that go behind it: The hang time, the consistency. But more of it is just developing another good, young player."
BRINGING THE HEAT
The Saints welcomed fans to their first outdoor training camp practice this year Friday and, well, yep, it was hot.
Payton noticed the slight effect that the temperature (heat index surpassed 100 degrees) had on players.
"I thought (practice) was decent," Payton said. "I thought we had to battle through the heat, maybe not quite as crisp as yesterday. But we'll look at the film and get a better chance to see it.
"You come out here and, shoot, instead of being in 72 degrees you're in 102 degrees. But that's part of training camp."
The New Orleans Saints take the field for Day 2 of Training Camp presented by SeatGeek at the Ochsner Sports Performance Center.
Defensive back P.J. Williams and offensive lineman Derrick Kelly passed their physicals and were moved off the Non-Football Injury list, and receiver Tommylee Lewis was added to the active roster. Kicker Wil Lutz remains on the NFI list, but his stay isn't expected to last much longer.
"We're just being smart," Payton said in regard to Lutz. "I don't expect it to be much longer than three days, but we're just being mindful of his groin. I don't want it to become something that starts lagging."
THE GAME IS THE GAME
Receiver Marquez Callaway had to learn offense and special teams last year as an undrafted rookie. Callaway grasped both well; he caught 21 passes on offense, returned 11 punts and four kickoffs and recovered two fumbles on special teams. Asked if it was "taxing" to have to learn the respective duties, Callaway said:
"It's just football. We're still out there playing. There's nothing that changed. Guys are bigger, guys hit harder but other than that, you've still got a job to do, you've still got to go out there and play, you've still got to execute."