Practice No. 10 at Saints Training Camp presented by Rouses started like the last few practices during this past week. Walk-through and stretching inside at the Oschner Sports Performance Center, then at around 9:30 a.m. the team then would head outside onto the two Bermuda grass fields to complete the day of work. On Saturday, however, Mother Nature had other plans. At 10:04 a.m. the lighting detector sitting on the roof of the Saints facility started blaring its unmistakable horn. That meant everyone headed back to the indoor facility for the final hour of practice. It was the first time actually in the three years I've been covering training camp that the horn blew, but the team didn't lose any practice time at all, jogging for about 90 seconds inside and getting right back to work with one-on-one, special teams, and team drills. Unfortunately, this practice was open to the public and a couple thousand fans that had made the trek to practice only got to watch about 35 minutes or so before the weather hit.
2. Team day for MT and the Badger:
We have heard through the first two weeks of practice from Coach Dennis Allen that receiver Michael Thomas ramp up to team drills wouldn't be much longer. Well, Saturday was the day, as Thomas and safety Tyrann Mathieu both participated in 11-on-11 team drills for the first time in training camp. Mathieu, of course, missed the first week due to an excused absence but he himself has been ramping up the last few days before the workout Saturday. Both got first team reps and Thomas was very active in the passing game. The very first play of team drills quarterback Jameis Winston threw a quick slant to Thomas as the media then realized that Thomas was cleared for team participation. A few plays later cornerback Paulson Adebo broke up a would be completion from Winston to Thomas on a 20-yard right sideline route. Two plays later, Thomas caught another slant and then after advancing the ball 10 yards, fumbled it and was promptly picked up by Mathieu. Allen mentioned post practice that it was all part of the ramp- up process for both and he was very pleased to see them out there.
3. Offensive day:
For the second straight day, I thought the offense had the better overall execution than the defense. As is usually the custom during training camp, the defense comes out the gates quickly before the offense begins to even things up as the practices increase. Saturday was no exception, as MULTIPLE chunk plays were had by the offense during team drills. After the Thomas catch to open team, Winston hit receiver Chris Olave on a deep left to right cross for a 25-yard gain and more yards after the catch. On the next play, running back Mark Ingram took a simple handoff off left tackle and broke into the clear down the left sideline. 40 yards down the field linebacker Demario Davis good-naturedly knocked Ingram to the turf, prompting Ingram to get up and hurl the football right at Davis's back, connecting with accuracy a pitcher would be proud of. With quarterback Andy Dalton at the helm, both running back Alvin Kamara and Abram Smith had big runs, Kamara off right tackle, and Smith right up the middle. Finally, Olave made another sweet catch from Winston, this time a 20-yard out to the right sideline, defended by Adebo. The team (and those who cover it) will enjoy an off day Sunday and will be back on the practice field on Monday morning at 9 a.m.