Hello, Mr. Official
As we walked onto the beautifully groomed fields outside at the Oschner Sports Performance Center on Wednesday, Aug. 11 and into practice, is was hard not to notice the unmistakable uniform of the NFL official. There were seven league officials at practice Wednesday and will be here for the next couple of days, even attending meetings later Wednesday night. Saints Coach Sean Payton mentioned it's a very good thing to have these guys in town for a number of reasons. One, obviously, is on-field performance where the players need to start feeling out what they can or cannot do, and getting used to what's going to be called. The other is there will be specific meetings about certain situations that could be deemed as "new rules." The unsportsmanlike conduct/taunting (no, not Ceedy Deuce) rule and the pulling lineman in space/cut block will be new emphasis points this season. Only saw a couple flags drop Wednesday, which were defensive holding calls, so at least it was basically a clean practice.
We're getting to the point of training camp where nicks and bumps are starting to show up more frequently. We have not seen wide receiver Tre'Quan Smith since he walked off the indoor field Aug. 3. In workout clothes (not pads), Smith was observing the first portion of practice and then later on was witnessed jogging on the south field nearest the Saints office building. Definitely taken as a good sign there, hopefully his return will be sooner than later. Rookie linebacker Pete Werner missed his second straight day, while rookie defensive end Payton Turner missed Wednesday's work as well, as he left Tuesday's indoor practice early. Also, left guard Andrus Peat left Tuesday's practice early, but he was a full participant Wednesday. Other notable absences today were receiver Jalen McCleskey and cornerback Adonis Alexander. Right tackle Ryan Ramczyk and safety Marcus Williams also were not at practice, but they were on schedule for "vet days."
Outside, then inside
For the first time in the first 12 practices, multiple facilities were need to get through practice Wednesday. The early portion was dominated by the heat and humidity, and as the morning wore on, thankfully, more cloud cover and a breeze. Then, around 11:35 a.m. the airhorn blew, and the team started to head to the indoor facility. The media contingent followed suit. Mind you, it had not started raining yet, though the thunder was rumbling in the distance. No sooner than the media arrived under the covered walkway outside the indoor facility, the heavens opened up. The team was already inside working on a kickoff drill and were able to finish practice uninterrupted, finishing it off with each quarterback engineering a two-minute drill as they did Tuesday. The only points coming on a field-goal attempt after a drive by Jameis Winston. The real MVP was whomever was looking at the Doppler radar, because they had it to the minute when to get inside before the rains came.
The New Orleans Saints take the field for Day 12 of Training Camp presented by SeatGeek at the Ochsner Sports Performance Center