There won’t be many veteran objections made regarding a rookie who mostly is seen rather than heard, especially when there has been so much to see.
So the New Orleans Saints teammates of safety Saquan Hampton very much are OK with the demeanor of the rookie, because he keeps stacking positive plays and days, like picking off a pass for the second consecutive practice during the Saints’ evening workout at Tulane’s Yulman Stadium on Sunday night.
“He’s definitely coming around,” linebacker Alex Anzalone said. “Obviously, he’s one of those guys that he doesn’t really say a lot. He just works, and his work during training camp is coming to fruition and you see him making these plays because of the work he’s been putting in.”
Hampton intercepted a Drew Brees pass on Sunday at Tom Benson Field. Pair that with a leaping, goal line interception of Teddy Bridgewater on Saturday, and an undeniable physical presence, and the former Rutgers team MVP (2018) has done much of what the Saints had hoped to see him do. Maybe, he even has added a little to what the team had hoped to see.
“He’s got good hands and he’s one of those players, the ball kind of finds him a little bit,” Coach Sean Payton said of the sixth-round pick (No. 177 overall). “I’ve been encouraged. He’s smart.”
The initial vision was that Hampton would contribute more on special teams than on defense. And while that still may hold true, he’s showing value as a defender.
“When you read a vision for a player, you feel like he’s a developing safety and a guy that we feel confident is going to be able to come in and help right away,” Payton said. “So you’re trying to read the vision in year one. And that doesn’t take anything away from him defensively. But it’s just, as you look at a rookie making the roster and then what he can do in the first part of the season, (special teams) was the early vision.”
Instead, Hampton is giving the Saints much more to see than to hear, and that goes over well with everyone.
HUGE NIGHT AT TULANE: An estimated crowd of 12,000 watched the Saints practice at Yulman Stadium on Sunday night. It was the largest, most vocal crowd the team has attracted since it began taking a night workout to Tulane several years ago.
“I think any time you change the routine up – pushed practice back – I thought they handled it well,” Payton said. “The other thing is, we get a great turnout and it’s just another exposure for our fans.
“The facility is fantastic. You get a sense that the crowd’s right on you here. Our training camp’s attendance has been great but I think this every year is a real good changeup. I think it’s good for the fans and for us.”
The changeup also plays well in the locker room.
“It’s awesome,” Anzalone said. “We get somewhat of an atmosphere at the facility, but this stadium atmosphere is different. It’s cool being in uptown and Tulane and all that, and really feeling the New Orleans vibe and all the fans and all that. It’s really a lot of fun for us.”
Payton said it makes sense to have a practice at Tulane. Originally, the Saints played their home games at Tulane Stadium before the Mercedes-Benz Superdome was constructed.
“We’ve tried to, in our 13 years here, really celebrate and pay attention to those who came before us,” he said. “I think the Bensons (late owner Tom and current owner Gayle) have done a great job of really creating a culture for our alumni, not just our current players. So there’s a number or reasons it makes sense to be back here.”