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Quality work highlights first joint practice for New Orleans Saints quarterback Derek Carr

'You really get better, more regular-season type looks in a joint practice than you would in a preseason game'

Costa Mesa, Calif. – What Derek Carr and the New Orleans Saints wanted to get out of the first joint practice with the Chargers on Thursday, they got plenty of at the Jack Hammett Sports Complex.

The teams will have their second joint practice Friday at the same site, then play a preseason game Sunday at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif.

"It's great seeing different looks," the Saints' quarterback said. Carr, who played nine seasons with the Raiders before signing with New Orleans as an unrestricted free agent this offseason, played 18 times against the Chargers while quarterbacking their AFC West Division rivals.

"We came out here, you don't watch film on them, you just come out and just, 'Hey, we're gonna play a new defense, trust your rules,' all that kind of stuff," Carr said. "And that's fun, because it allows you just to play football on some unscouted kind of things.

"Thankfully, I've played these guys a couple of times in my career, so I have a little bit of background. But they're doing some new things, some nice things. It's a lot of fun competing against them."

Competition definitely was the theme of the day as the respective No. 1 offenses and defenses took at-bats against each other before mixing in the 2s and 3s. In one-on-one drills, Carr and receivers' Chris Olave and Michael Thomas were especially effective, Olave coming down with a couple of gapingly open deep receptions after slithering free from his defender.

"It was great work," Carr said. "They did some good things in the red zone, we did some good things on third down, two-minute. They had some big plays, we had some plays. That's what these things should be.

"You've got two good teams going back and forth like it has been in camp – our defense vs. our offense, it's been back and forth, it's been a lot of competition. I fully expected that over here with this defense because I've played them, and they're a good group."

Carr said Thursday's work possibly was more valuable than reps he'd take in a preseason game.

"I love joint practices, I've always loved joint practices, from my time with the Raiders," he said. "It gives you just different looks, you're not just seeing one coverage. You get used to seeing the same guy line up, even if they're disguising you know what they're playing because you're used to seeing them.

"When you play a different defense, you're allowed to get different looks and in the joint practices, people show more. They're going to show some more pressure, they're going to show some more coverage variations and things like that. You really get better, more regular-season type looks in a joint practice than you would in a preseason game."

STAY TUNED: Thursday's practice was surprisingly contention-free, though several Chargers offensive players were taken to the ground. But that could change Friday, Carr said. "I thought this was one of the cleanest joint practices I've been a part of. There was no chippiness. But it is Day 1, people will be more sore tomorrow, we'll see. Hopefully nothing crazy."

WELCOME BACK: Linebacker Demario Davis and left guard Andrus Peat were padded and participated in the walk-through portion of practice. The two concluded their work on a side field with some conditioning drills. Also, running back Kendre Miller had his pads on. Miller sprained his knee in Sunday's preseason opener, but Coach Dennis Allen said Miller may be available to play Sunday against the Chargers.

Full coverage of the New Orleans Saints workouts during 2023 Training Camp presented by Rouses Markets on Thursday, August 17.

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