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Practice intensifies for New Orleans Saints in first training camp workout in pads

"First day in pads, we're ready to hit somebody, we're ready to go"

The New Orleans Saints took the field for workouts during 2023 Training Camp presented by Rouses Markets on Monday, July 31.

Monday's training camp practice for the New Orleans Saints felt a lot more like the team was in game mode.

It always does when the first day of practice in pads come around.

"First day of pads, we're ready to hit somebody, we're ready to go," linebacker Zack Baun said. "So everyone's kind of tuned up, fired up a little bit. It just ups the intensity a lot."

Exhibit A: Tight end Jimmy Graham caught a pass and began his sprint down the right sideline, where defensive back Troy Pride closed in. In jerseys and shorts, there might have been a polite two-handed touch to signify the "tackle" and end of the play but on Monday, as Pride approached, Graham lowered his shoulder to knocked back the defender a couple of yards. The two exchanged words afterward, competitive banter than seems more often to occur when the pads are on.

"Obviously, the game's played in pads, so it was good to kind of get used to everything, get a feel for the plays and all that kind of stuff without the pads on," rookie defensive tackle Bryan Bresee said. "But the game is played in pads. So, that's when the real contact comes and it's just a different feel when you have the pads on and the double teams come and that kind of stuff. It's important and to be in them up until the first week until we play, your body needs to get used to it."

Monday's work was about acclimation to the pads while also enduring a heat advisory on the outdoor field at the Ochsner Sports Performance Center.

"Pretty good first day in pads," Coach Dennis Allen said. "I thought overall the energy was pretty good.

"I thought everybody held up pretty good. We didn't have anybody go down with any type of heat-related issues today. We were only out in the heat for about an hour or so, which is by design."

New Orleans has padded practices scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday, though one or both could be moved to the team's indoor facility.

OFF GUARD: Left guard Andrus Peat left practice early with a quadriceps injury. Allen said the injury did not appear to be serious, and James Hurst moved inside from left tackle to handle the guard spot. Trevor Penning stepped in with the No. 1 offense at left tackle.

The Saints already have suffered a blow at the position; Trai Turner sustained a season ending quadriceps tear Friday.

LATT MUSCLES: Pro Bowl cornerback Marshon Lattimore has been at the top of his game early in training camp, and Allen has noticed.

"The best thing I've seen out of Latt in these first five days of practice is the way he's worked and the way he's competing," Allen said. "If he continues to practice that way, then I would anticipate that he'll perform at the level that we expect him to perform at, and that we're used to him performing at.

"We put him in the most difficult situations that you can put a corner in. There's a lot of times that we put him on the opponent's best receiver and leave him on an island a little bit. I think he wins more of those matchups than he loses. For a play-caller, it's a great tool to have, knowing you can put him on their best receiver and be able to take him out of the game and it allows you to do some other things defensively to help out in some other areas."

GETTING THE FEEL: Baun, who has worked his way into position to be a starter/heavy rotation player at linebacker, admitted that it has been a work in progress. He mainly played defensive end in college. His Saints opportunity comes after he has become a standout on special teams and with the departure of Kaden Elliss to Atlanta as a free agent.

"In college, I never played off the ball," Baun said. "So I don't have necessarily all the instincts, the technique, basic fundamentals that (linebackers) Pete (Werner) and Demario (Davis) and other guys do. So I'm constantly trying to perfect those and critique those."

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