It was more two-minute work for the New Orleans Saints on Friday night, as the team held its first training camp practice inside the Caesars Superdome in preparation for a Monday night kickoff against Jacksonville.
Coach Sean Payton said it's critical for the Saints to be effective in the two-minute drills, given that it will encounter so many of them during the season.
"There's so many things that come up situationally," Payton said. "It's great to have a full (officiating) crew here relative to getting the ball to the officials without it being on the ground, the various penalties that can come up.
"We can't get enough of that work because every year at the end of the year, there's 130 or 140 two-minute snaps – defensively, offensively, and they're generally pretty critical snaps either at the end of the half or at the end of the game. Just turn on the finish of every game and someone's defending to win or scoring to win. And then occasionally you don't have a two-minute drill because of the scores. But it's going good, we need a lot of work at it."
New Orleans, in fact, spent extensive time in the drill this week.
"There's not one thing (I want to see), because there's so many things," Payton said. "No. 1, communication. No. 2, penalties. Look, half the battle is making sure everyone has the right call and plays the right defense, or the right offensive snap. So communication – efficient communication.
"There's a ton of things that get you beat in that drill, either side of the ball. You're constantly addressing those things. 'Get on to the next play. It's happening, let's go, get on to the next play.' There's a lot of situations that come up end of half. We're trying to get a field goal, no timeouts, that opens up a litany of situations – how do you stop the ball, there's certain plays you're going to defend just the sideline because the time tells you they have to throw it.
"So there's about 15 different situations to begin with that you have to cover, and so the only way to do it is to practice it."
Safety Marcus Williams said the work is important the Saints need to improve.
"We've got to continue to get better at that," Williams said. "We work it every week, which is a positive. I don't know how many teams actually work it each and every week, but that's what games come down to, that two-minute drill at the end of the game. So I'm happy that we always work that, get better at it and just see where we need to improve every week."
ON THE CLOCK: Payton said that several players who didn't dress for the preseason opener against Baltimore would play against the Jaguars. Among the Saints' starters who sat out against Jacksonville were running back Alvin Kamara, offensive tackles Terron Armstead and Ryan Ramczyk, defensive end Cam Jordan, linebacker Demario Davis and safety Malcolm Jenkins.
Payton didn't specify who would play, but strongly indicated that the missing starters would be on the field.
"They need to play," he said. "We're not going to go three games (without them playing)."
The quarterbacks will rotate this week, with Jameis Winston taking snaps with the starters and Taysom Hill coming in after Winston completes his phase.
BIG PLAY: Sometimes there's a singles approach for the offense in the two-minute. Sometimes, there's a homer. Winston and receiver Chris Hogan connected for a homer – and 80-yard pass over the top, down the left sideline that hit Hogan in stride for a touchdown. Winston climbed the pocket and bit and unleashed the deep one to Hogan, who got behind the defense.
TRANSACTIONS: New Orleans waived tight end Josh Pederson and placed receiver Tommylee Lewis on the reserve injured list, and signed kicker Aldrick Rosas and safety Jeff Heath.
The New Orleans Saints take the field on August 20, 2021 for Saints Training Camp presented by SeatGeek at the Caesars Superdome.