Look at photos from Day 2 of New Orleans Saints Training Camp 2018 presented by Verizon at Ochsner Sports Performance Center on July 27, 2018.
The New Orleans Saints conducted their second practice of training camp Friday and they did it without Coach Sean Payton and some of his staff. Payton and several assistants - including defensive coordinator Dennis Allen and offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael - were in Minnesota attending funeral services for Minnesota Vikings assistant coach Tony Sparano. Saints defensive assistant Aaron Glenn was in charge of Friday's practice at the Ochsner Sports Performance Center. Here are some observations from the non-padded practice:
The return of Benjamin Watson is a big deal. The veteran tight end had a very strong practice Friday; one that saw him showcase his ability to catch the football in tight spaces and leverage his size in designed mismatches. The Saints have struggled to have such a reliable player at the position over the last two seasons. His reception while being tightly covered by linebacker Alex Anzalone particularly stood out during Friday's practice.
Receiver Michael Thomas scored a 50-yard touchdown in full 11-11 work. The catch and yards following were the work of a top tier NFL wide receiver and it came at the expense of Thomas' friend and fellow Ohio State Buckeye, Marshon Lattimore. The competition between the two is one of my favorite watches during camp dating to last year. Thomas noted after practice that he expects Lattimore to return the favor soon. I can't wait.
Backup quarterback Tom Savage missed a second straight day. That meant more reps for Taysom Hill and J.T. Barrett. Hill and Barrett both need the work. They are up and down in the their performances thus far, which is to be expected. It's a tough road right now for any Saints signal caller as the Saints defense has shown to be strong and deep over the first two days. Hill, also, is pulling double duty. The breakout special teams player of a season ago is still working on several of the kicking units despite his pursuit of the No. 2 quarterback position. Hill says that he welcomes the extra load. He sees special teams duties as a way to continue playing on Sundays whether he is tabbed the No. 2 thrower or not.
Keep an eye on newly added running back Shane Vereen. The veteran showed some of his pass-catching ability Friday. He could be a nice backup to Alvin Kamara and could be of significant help during Mark Ingram's four-game suspension. Lest we forget, Vereen caught a game-high 11 passes in a Super Bowl win for the Patriots three years ago. Stay tuned on this one. There's a long way to go and a lot of competition in that position group.