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Observations from New Orleans Saints training camp | Monday, Aug. 22

Team practiced in warm weather Monday

1.       We're not in Green Bay anymore: Yes, folks, we got a little weather spoiled up in Green Bay last week during the joint practices last Tuesday and Wednesday and preseason game on Friday. Mild mid-70s temps, and nice breezes made the week very comfortable not only as a spectator, but especially as a New Orleans Saints player, where it was a struggle to even break a sweat at times. That was not the case, however, when the team returned to practice Monday at the Oschner Sports Performance Center in full pads. The South Louisiana heat and humidity were back in full force for the entirety of the outside portion of practice. Near the end, you could tell the temperatures were getting to the players a little bit, as several were seen entering the Rouses Freezer Aisle to get a cool breather before the last couple of periods. Receivers Chris Olave, Marquez Callaway and Jarvis Landry took a knee in front of us, with a cold towel draped around Olave's neck. Linebackers Eric Wilson and Jon Bostic and center Erik McCoy mentioned post practice that even though it's hot and humid here in South Louisiana it's going to be a good thing as the season gets going because of the conditioning that they're getting right now in August.

2.       Attrition hitting: The main goal of every training camp across the entire NFL is to prepare you for the rigors of the upcoming 17-game season. The second goal is to stay as healthy as possible heading into said regular season. As we head into the final week of what is still considered "training camp," more players missed practice on Monday than any other day since practice started back on July 27. Now the good news is quarterback Jameis Winston participated in team drills (not two-minute) for the first time since spraining his foot a couple of weeks ago. Also, linebacker Pete Werner and defensive back Alontae Taylor were also on the side outside doing conditioning work, another positive considering we haven't seen either in any capacity for a week now. Now, the not so good news. No less than 10 players were not at practice today including receiver Michael Thomas, tight end Taysom Hill, cornerback Marshon Lattimore, right guard Cesar Ruiz, safety P.J. Williams and left tackle James Hurst. Coach Dennis Allen did not seem that concerned after practice telling the media "that's part of it, we're at that part in camp where you're going to get some knicks and bruises, that you have to battle through, and we're dealing with it now." With two more practices and walk-through coming up before the third preseason game on Friday, we'll keep a close eye on who returns during the upcoming week.

3.       Play of the Day/red zone defense dominates: When team drills began, I uttered aloud to fellow media members watching practice that I needed a play of the day for Observations. Well, as I always say, "ask, and ye shall receive." On The very first rep, Winston looked to complete a 15-yard pass out near the left sideline. Defensive back C.J. Gardner-Johnson was having none of it, stepping in front of receiver Jarvis Landry and making a stellar one-handed interception, taking it down the sideline to the house for a touchdown. It was Winston's first interception during team drills this training camp, but credit Ceedy for the outstanding play. It really didn't matter who was the quarterback during red zone drills, specifically inside the five. By my count, only two touchdowns were scored with all three quarterbacks, (a controversial draw by Andy Dalton and a pass to Marquez Callaway from Ian Book which could've been argued was a sack on a spin move by linebacker Kaden Ellis) in 12 reps inside the 5-yard line. Allen mentioned post practice that he thought the defense had a really good day Monday, and after he goes back and watches the tape, those thoughts will more than likely be confirmed.

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