Back In The Dome.
For the first time since the 2020 football season came to a close in January 2021, the New Orleans Saints were back in the newly renovated Caesars Superdome for a Friday night practice. This is a yearly custom prior to the first preseason game in the Dome. Coach Sean Payton mentioned post practice they do this for a couple of reasons. One, for the players to get used to the lighting inside the Dome, and to get the feel of the brand new FieldTurf. Every year, the Dome gets a new surface and it takes a while to fully "break it in." Payton mentioned Friday that it was "especially spongy" after the workout. Earlier in the day, the Tulane football team had a morning practice in the Dome, specifically to try and break the new turf in.
It has been since Aug. 9 since we have seen rookie linebacker Pete Werner on the practice field. On Friday in the Caesars Superdome, that changed. Werner participated on a limited basis early on during practice but was held out of team drills. Nevertheless, it was good to see him out there. Still absent was rookie defensive Payton Turner, who has been out since Aug.10, and wide receiver Tre'Quan Smith missed his second straight day after returning earlier in the week for two consecutive practices indoors at the Oschner Sports Performance Center. The Saints also signed kicker Aldrick Rosas (who did not kick Friday) and also veteran safety Jeff Heath (who got treated to the defense up-down routine discussed in Thursday's Takeaways).
The New Orleans Saints take the field on August 20, 2021 for Saints Training Camp presented by SeatGeek at the Caesars Superdome.
Play of the Night
The practices continue to have heavy emphasis on two-minute situations, which Payton mentioned post practice, if you watch games every Sunday, most games come down to these critical plays, either on offense or defense. Friday, on a second-and-10 from his own 20-yard line, quarterback Jameis Winston eliminated any two-minute offense on one throw. Despite pressure from the edges, Winston was able to step up in the pocket and uncork a deep ball to the left sideline, hitting a streaking receiver Chris Hogan in stride for an 80-yard touchdown pass. Winston's arm strength has never been in question, and it was on full display on the throw to Hogan, who had beaten cornerback Grant Haley by a step and a half, and Winston absolutely put it on the money.