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New Orleans Saints rookie defensive end Payton Turner exhibiting versatility in training camp

'Even when we weren't in pads, everything's a little bit quicker'

The New Orleans Saints take the field for Day 3 of Training Camp presented by SeatGeek at the Ochsner Sports Performance Center.

Every rookie story needn't include a part detailing the fact that the player sang a song in front of teammates.

But when the rookie is 6-foot-6, 270-pound first rounder Payton Turner, and the song is "My Boo" by Usher and Alicia Keys, accommodation must be made. Versatility, obviously, is required.

"I knocked my song out," Turner said Wednesday, grinning. "It's been on my mind heavy, the vets put it on my mind heavy. I heard you get booed off, you get bottles thrown at you and everything. So I wasn't about that. So I went out there, sang 'My Boo.' They were vibing with it."

Both parts, male and female?

"Yeah, you've got to do both parts," he said. "I'll probably throw that out there for everybody to see at some point."

Turner's versatility extends to the field as well, as he continues to show signs of being exactly what the Saints were hoping to get when they selected him with the No. 28 overall pick in the 2021 draft.

On Tuesday, it was a batted pass from the left side of the defensive line and Wednesday, it was a pair of would-be sacks from the right side – one a bull rush, where he pushed an offensive lineman into quarterback Ian Book's lap.

He can play on the edge or interior of the defensive line, he said.

"I think that was one of the things that the Saints got me for, is because they like those long, versatile linemen – Marcus (Davenport), Cam (Jordan), Grando (Carl Granderson), Tanoh (Kpassagnon) – all these guys that can sub rush and everything, you've got a lot of athletes on the field," Turner said. "So it's definitely something that I see myself doing to contribute, and also something I need to keep working on."

Turner, like most rookies, is deep into the learning phase.

"I learned a lot thus far," he said. "We've got a lot of good players on the team, and being able to learn from them – not only what they say, but just being able to watch them on tape, the way they play and everything – is just great."

The New Orleans Saints take the field for Day 6 of Training Camp presented by SeatGeek at the Ochsner Sports Performance Center.

Jordan and Davenport have the most Saints tenure among the defensive ends, and each has enough experience and production to give Turner pointers on the intricacies of the position.

"Every day," Turner said. "I mean, they don't get paid to come out there and teach, but they come out here and pick that up like a little side job. They come out here and give you some tips and everything, and then when you go in the film room and watch them, you can learn a lot from them as well in that aspect."

Too, what he has learned is that he's playing on another, higher level of football. The Saints had their first padded practices Tuesday and Wednesday, but Turner didn't need the pads in order to know the NFL is different.

"Even when we weren't in pads, everything's a little bit quicker," he said. "Just better athletes all around. The worst athlete on the team might be the best in a college game. Everything's a little quicker, everybody's a little bit bigger but at the end of the day it's football. Just to be out here and play is exciting."

He also is learning to play special teams.

"Last time I played special teams was, like, Peewee," he said. "I used to be the kicker, I just toe pointed it and wherever it went, it went. But that's new to me. I've got to keep getting better at it, keep learning."

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