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Sean Kelley: Observations from Wednesday's New Orleans Saints practice

It was the last open practice of training camp

Photos from Saints Training Camp presented by Verizon in Metairie on August 24, 2016.

The New Orleans Saints held their final open practice of Training Camp 2016 presented by Verizon on Wednesday. The crowd at practice was perhaps the biggest yet. There was some cloud cover but for the most part, it was a typical hot August day as the team practiced in helmets and shoulder pads for the third straight time. Here are some observations:

  1. Knock on wood. The Saints may be the healthiest I can remember at this point in camp over the last several years. Despite this being a more competitive and physical camp, the numbers of injuries both serious and nagging are down. It's one of the positives Coach Sean Payton pointed out when reflecting on the last month.  Sheldon Rankins is the only Saint who doesn't qualify here.\
  1. On the spur of the moment, Sean Payton brought two fans out of the bleachers to spice up the kicker competition. Each fan was matched up with one of the two Saints kickers via the flip of the coin. They served as honorary captains as Connor Barth and Kai Forbath competed for a best of five kicks. Forbath won hitting all of his five. Barth missed his final kick; an attempt from 53 yards. It was a great idea and one of the more fun moments of this training camp.
  1. After practicing against the Patriots and the Texans in the days leading up to the first two preseason games, the Saints had to manufacture their own scouting work for this week's matchup with Pittsburgh.  Getting ready for the Steelers took up a large chunk of practice Wednesday. The lead up to Friday night this week will most mirror the regular season, Payton said. Look for the starters and their backups to play a half of the game, if not more. And look for the Saints to go after a solid performance and a win. The mood very much reflects the team's (especially offense) want to make good on two less than spectacular games so far.
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