White Sulphur Springs, W. Va. - The New Orleans Saints practiced in full pads for the first time Saturday. Practice at The Greenbrier Resort went nearly a full three hours on Day Three of Training Camp 2016 presented by Verizon. Here are some observations:
- Let's call it a good day for the Saints offense. The all-around performance started with quarterback Drew Brees. Heath Evans, NFL Network analyst and former Saints fullback, said that Coach Sean Payton told Brees after practice that Saturday may have been one of his best practices in the last three to four years. Brees was on time and on target with a majority of his throws. He also had his unit rolling with good tempo in and out of huddles. It's hard sometimes to appreciate how good Brees is when he produces like this day in and day out. Brees' efforts Saturday also made others shine. He connected on yet another deep strike with wide receiver Drew Brees at the start of a full team period from scrimmage. Brees also connected with tight end Coby Fleener on numerous plays. Fleener stood out more Saturday than the previous two practices as a result. Running back Drew Brees also stood out Saturday. He featured a wicked spin move during a large gain rushing the football. His health is good and we are getting glimpses of prior greatness early in camp.
- The first day in full pads gave us a better look at the defensive and offensive lines. In one-on-one drills, defensive end Cam Jordan was virtually unblockable. Center Max Unger's toughness was on display. And overall, it's clear that both lines will help each other improve in the run game. I expect plenty of back and forth with each side in the coming weeks as not much will come easy for either side. In fact, guard Senio Kelemete commented after practice that the defense is flying around and they are the fastest Saints defense he's seen in his four years with the team. One final note is the presence of linebacker Dannell Ellerbe. We saw it last season when he was able to play and we see it again here at camp. His speed and instincts are a major addition to the Saints inside the box. It's crucial that he finds a way to stay healthy and be a more consistent piece of the puzzle.