Check out photos of the New Orleans Saints from Day 12 of Training Camp presented by Verizon at Ochsner Sports Performance Center on August 6, 2018.
The New Orleans Saints concluded another phase of Training Camp 2018 presented by Verizon on Monday at the Ochsner Sports Performance Center. The closed practice was held indoors. The players spent the afternoon practice in just helmets and shoulder pads. Monday's practice leads into a scheduled off day for the players and camp now turns toward the first preseason game Thursday night. Here are some observations:
After an extended absence, tight end Benjamin Watson returned to the practice field. He was limited, but his return is a welcome sign. He is the veteran leader of a group that hopes to return to a position of strength in the Saints offense. I don't expect Watson to play Thursday in Jacksonville. I will be eager to see converted wide receiver Dan Arnold and newcomer Deon Yelder get plenty of work against the Jaguars.
Thursday night's preseason game at Jacksonville will be the first time the Saints see full contact "to the ground" since the post-season in January. There has yet to be a practice which featured all-out tackling; something I don't believe we have seen prior to the first preseason game in the Sean Payton era. There have been some changes to the practice schedule and agenda due to inclement weather that may have played a part in the lack of full contact. One can't also discount the notion that Payton may simply be in a cautious mind-set regarding the health of what appears to be a super talented team.
Keep an eye on newly acquired wide receiver Brandon Tate on Thursday. The veteran wide receiver made a huge play on offense Monday, and should see some time in that role versus the Jaguars. More importantly, I expect Tate to get some chances as a kick returner. He is as viable a candidate for that job as anyone else right now in camp. Wouldn't it be great to see Tate or one of the other candidates bust a return for a score in these upcoming exhibition games and really ramp up one of the key storylines of this preseason.