White Sulphur Springs, W. Va. - The New Orleans Saints held their final full practice Tuesday morning before heading to Baltimore to start the preseason Thursday. The half pads practice was heavy on situational football with plenty of action under the two-minute warning. Here are some observations:
- There is a premium at this time of camp on the mental side of the game. Coach Sean Payton is drilling the importance of knowing where and when to line up and how to execute the task at hand. It's something being meticulously recorded at practice and will be heavily evaluated in Thursday night's game.
- For those looking for an improved defense in 2015, you have to love the number of pass attempts being knocked down both at the line and in the secondary. Ramon Humber and Keenan Lewis each had timely PBU's in the red zone this morning. Lawrence Virgil was the latest defensive lineman to bat one down up front. I don't think it's an indictment of the offense just better play for the defense.
- Now for the real stuff. Both of the kickers were strong again Tuesday. Dustin Hopkins and Zach Hocker have had a terrific competition working at The Greenbrier. The upcoming exhibition games will be where the rubber meets the road, though. Payton said Tuesday that he will probably give each a half at Baltimore to handle whatever kicks present themselves. We'll see what happens.