On the seventh practice, the Honey Badger created a stir.
New Orleans Saints safety Tyrann Mathieu made his training camp debut Wednesday, after missing the first six practices due to an excused absence. Mathieu didn't participate much, but the presence of the 10-year veteran – a three-time first team All-Pro – was a welcomed sight.
"I loved having him back," Coach Dennis Allen said. "It was great to see him last night, (he) got in last night, I had a chance to visit with him at the hotel. He seems to be in really good spirits, he's anxious to kind of get back here and get started. We'll go through a little bit of a ramp-up period with him, kind of let him get his feet up under him. But, man, to have a player of his decorated ability back in the building is a positive."
Allen said he expected the experienced Mathieu quickly to get up to speed during his ramp-up period.
"He's a veteran player," Allen said. "When you really want to talk about what we're doing defensively from a schematic standpoint, it's not a lot different than what you're going to see in a lot of the other teams. Really, it gets more down to terminology and some of the minor little adjustments that we might make. I feel like he'll get back in the swing of things here and it won't take long. It's more about just getting him ready for football conditioning."
TOSSED: The aggressive tendencies of rookie left tackle Trevor Penning have been noteworthy for the last three days. On the third day, those tendencies apparently got the best of him
Wednesday's training camp dustup was between Penning and defensive lineman Malcolm Roach, and earned each an ejection from practice. Penning has been a common denominator in a few tie-ups; the Saints don't want to tamp down his aggressiveness, but want him to be wise about it.
"We don't have time for that," Allen said. "I sent two guys in today; we've got to get our work done. We've got to learn as a team how to compete, and how to play, and how to practice, and push ourselves to the limit, but yet not take it over the edge."
Allen said familiarity is as much a factor as anything.
"Probably that we're in about the third day in a row in practice, and people begin to get a little bit tired and things get a little bit more chippy," he said. "It's not unusual for something like that to occur in training camp. Certainly something that we don't want to see happen, and it'll be addressed and we'll move forward."
Allen was asked if Penning specifically needs to be addressed.
"It's going to happen with everybody," he said. "It happened with the team out here (after practice), it'll happen with those two players sometime between now and the next practice."
MORE WORK: For the first time in camp, receiver Michael Thomas took part in one-on-one drills against defensive backs. Thomas looked very much like himself.
"It was awesome," Allen said. "It was awesome. Seeing him get a few routes, actually go up against a defender. I thought he looked good in the plays that he got, I was excited about seeing that. And I think it's another step in the right direction."
Allen said the ramp-up process with Thomas, who missed last season due to ankle surgeries, will continue.
"We've had a lot of communication with Mike, and with his input, we've kind of laid out a plan of what we want to do and how we want to go about getting him ready," he said. "And Mike's been totally on board with the plan. I think with Mike it's when you explain to him what you're looking for and he feels like you're listening to what he has to say, I think he responds well to that. He's been outstanding.
"I think he's in a good spot. I think we want to continue to ramp him up – there's a process that this goes through. And at some point before we get to the regular season, we're going to see him in full speed team activities. We have a plan for how that's going to go, obviously we have to monitor how he's feeling as we go through that plan. But I feel good about where he's at and the progress that he's made."
The New Orleans Saints took the field for practice during 2022 Training Camp presented by Rouses Markets on Wednesday, August 3.