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Rookie linebacker Pete Werner on fast track with New Orleans Saints

'I think so far he's looked really smart. That's a key strength of his'

The New Orleans Saints take the field for Day 2 of Training Camp presented by SeatGeek at the Ochsner Sports Performance Center.

As of Tuesday morning, Pete Werner had yet to perform one of the traditional rookie duties.

He hadn't been called upon to sing the Ohio State fight song.

"I know I'm going to have to sing here soon, depending on the next team meeting, so I'm looking forward to that," Werner said. "I'm humming the song in my head."

Sure, but can the linebacker carry a tune?

"I think I can," he said, laughing." I wish the media team was in there videotaping it because I think I'd shock the nation with this beautiful voice here. I'm just kidding. It'll be a fun time."

He hasn't been asked to sing, but he has been directed at times to line up with the first-team defense, including Tuesday, Aug. 3 when the Saints had their first training camp practice in full pads. And he appears to be holding his own when it comes to carrying out his responsibilities.

"With any of those young linebackers, obviously you want to see their instincts and their overall ability to communicate to the defense," Coach Sean Payton said. "When the preseason games start you look for how they tackle, how they stop the run, how they defend the pass.

"There are several things that go into evaluating that position. Today was the first day with pads, so you look at those areas mentioned and see how well they're performing.

"I think so far he's looked really smart. That's a key strength of his. Ultimately, you get into tackling when the preseason starts, and you look to see the results. He's picked things up quickly."

Werner said he's just thankful to have the opportunity to go with the starters and have some reps there.

"I feel like I'm getting better every day," he said. "All I'm focused on now is stacking the days and getting better each day, and learning from a lot of the vets from what they've seen in me and from my coaches. So just put my foot forward and learning every day, that's what I'm trying to do."

New Orleans is expecting no less from its second-round pick (No. 60 overall), after Werner posted a combined 13 tackles for loss, three pass breakups, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and 122 tackles in his final two seasons with Ohio State.

"I think I'm smart, and I've been able to pick up on this defense very fast – faster than a lot would imagine, given what the defense entails," Werner said. "I think that intelligence is going to help me out a lot, as well as my athleticism. I've been put in places in college to show my athleticism, and it's helped out. I think that's what I'm going to bring. That intelligence and athleticism is what I'm going to bring to the table.

"When it comes to learning the defense, I've learned it pretty fast. As well as when I see a formation, I can react to it a little quicker than people that are a little bit behind. I feel like I can do that, I've been able to show that, hopefully coaches see that."

Coaches have seen enough to give him first-team reps along with standout linebacker Demario Davis, and Werner is learning to adjust to playing on a higher level.

"The biggest thing is I've been going up against a lot of big O-linemen," Werner said. "In college, you get the big, slow ones. Now, they can all move, so I've got to be really on my feet, I've got to be where I'm supposed to be at the right time.

"(And) everybody cares. There's no guys slacking, everybody's attentive in meetings. It's their job and they're pros. Everybody cares to be here, there's no guys slacking around. It's a professional feeling, (and) I like that.

"I noticed that when you get to this level, there's a lot more that goes into each coverage than what I was doing in the past. So it's not the traditional Cover 3, there's different variations of it, what you can do with the safety. There's a lot that goes into the defense and ways we can play it."

There's a lot yet to be discovered, including whether Werner has a decent singing voice.

"I still do (feel like a rookie)," he said. "It is my first training camp, so I haven't been around too long. I had rookie minicamp and I was here for a month, then a month off, and now I'm back. So I still feel like a rookie. The older players, the older vets, still treat me like a rookie, so that's just how it's going to be until some time comes."

The New Orleans Saints take the field for Day 5 of Training Camp presented by SeatGeek at the Ochsner Sports Performance Center.

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