Gauntlet part deux
During Wednesday's practice, the offensive line worked with the sled with seven linemen pushing it for about 10 yards, then breaking off into a sprint off the field. While that was going on, every offensive player ran through the tackle maker or the Gauntlet, which is a machine with three circular pads on each side. This is a ball security drill, basically simulating carrying the football through would-be tacklers while holding on to the football without fumbling. The highlight of the drill on Wednesday was the video of quarterback Jameis Winston flailing through being hit multiple times (but he didn't fumble) which led to a question for Coach Sean Payton being asked about it the next day. Well on Friday the Gauntlet came out again, with offensive players running though it twice and I can report for the second straight practice, no fumbles. Curiously though, Winston chose not to run through it Friday.
Early on during Friday's padded practice outside at the Oschner Sports Performance Center we were treated to some one-on-one drills between the offensive and defensive line, but we also saw a run heavy period following that with running backs carrying the football behind the offensive line trying to open up some nice holes. Both sides in the 10 plays that were run had wins, highlighted by big gains from running back Latavius Murray (who broke a Pete Werner tackle), Devonta Freeman, and Stevie Scott III was the beneficiary of the biggest hole of the day for a TD run right up the middle. Defensively, nice plays were made by defensive end Tanoh Kpassagnon stuffing Freeman at the line of scrimmage, and defensive tackle Christian Ringo making a tackle at the line of scrimmage on Scott. This would be the second straight day that Ringo, a Louisiana-Lafayette product, has made solid contributions at practice during run drills.
Offense flips the script
After the last three days of the defense having the upper hand, on Friday the pendulum swung back to the offense's way. Both Winston and Taysom Hill threw the ball very well during the last portion of practice. Helped greatly by stellar pass protection, wide receivers and backs were not only open, but they were turning modest gains into huge ones with yards after catch. Two big plays for Winston were deep crossing routes to Marquez Callaway and Lil' Jordan Humphrey, the latter going for a long touchdown. Hill on his first rep found a wide-open Chris Hogan (who continues to catch pretty much everything thrown his way) for a touchdown and then a deep slant to former Tulane speedster Jalen McCleskey who took the pass 20 yards down the field and raced for another 30 after the catch. McCleskey also caught a long bomb from Ian Book down the right sideline for another huge gain. Payton mentioned post practice that Friday was the second straight day of this third down install and it paid off.