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Saints Training Camp 2021: Key Takeaways from Sunday, Aug. 15

Saints return to practice despite late arrival from Baltimore

  1. No Rest for the weary: Despite the New Orleans Saints playing on Saturday night in Baltimore and landing in New Orleans at approximately 2:30 a.m., they were back in the indoor practice field at the Oschner Sports Performance Center at 4 p.m. for a two-hour practice in helmets and shorts, with a heavy emphasis on specific game situations and special teams. Still some very notable absences at practice, specifically, defensive end Payton Turner, linebacker Pete Werner and receiver Tre'Quan Smith but others that were actually in the game Saturday night were not present either. We did find out from Coach Sean Payton post practice that roster cuts had been made (before the Tuesday deadline) that would be announced by the team shortly, so that would explain the "extra" absences. We'll find out soon enough what those roster adjustments will be. Payton also mentioned Monday will be an off day and they'll get back to more installs Tuesday when preparation will begin for the Jacksonville game a week from Monday, Aug. 23.

2. Red zone work: As we've watched the last few practices prior to the Baltimore game, there has been a red zone installation and reps everyday. Sunday night was no exception. Both Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill engineered touchdown drives. During the period. Winston fired a 10-yard pass to Ty Montgomery, while one play later Alvin Kamara strolled in from first-and-goal at the 5. During Hill's reps, Latavius Murray had a 12-yard touchdown run on second down, and on third-and-goal from the 6, Juwan Johnson made a sliding grab from a bullet in the back in the end zone, which I immediately ruled a TD, though met with some resistance by other members of the media. Then one play later on another third-and-goal situation, rookie cornerback Paulson Adebo intercepted Hill in the right back corner of the end zone and promptly ran it up the left sideline. Quarterback Ian Book ran two reps and had two TDs, a scramble from the 5 and a swing pass to running back Dwayne Washington.

3. No stone left unturned: As I mentioned before, much of practice was specificities game situations. It's these periods where you really get to witness Sean Payton's attention to detail. End of the half situations, where the ball is, what down is it, how many timeouts, etc. Anywhere from a punter taking a deliberate safety, to how the team will defend a free kick following a safety, to offensive end of the half to get into FG range, a lot was discussed today. The emphasis on special teams continued, with punt block drills, kickoff and punt coverage, and even pooch kick drills. These are the things that are largely unnoticed during training camp to the average fan, but are essential for the head coach and staff to ensure the players have reps during these specific situations, because ultimately, you might need to make one of these plays to win a football game.

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