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Trevor Penning leaning into technical aspects of playing offensive tackle with New Orleans Saints

'You didn't need it in college. You were more physically gifted than a lot of them'

New Orleans Saints rookie tackle Trevor Penning participates in team OTA practices on June 10, 2022.

It's all in the details for Trevor Penning.

The New Orleans Saints' rookie tackle, the No. 19 overall pick in the draft, entered the NFL with ferocity in excess. The big man (listed at 6 feet 7, 320 pounds) was an imposer of his will at Northern Iowa, whose physical advantages were vast and noticeable in just about every way.

But as a Saint during OTAs, he has learned that it might require a different route to reach that imposition than was needed when he became one of the most dominant offensive linemen in college football.

"Mainly footwork," Penning said. "(In) college, we didn't spend a ton of time with it. It was more kind of basic. Now, we're kind of getting really detailed about it, just really working on that.

"Using your feet – that's kind of your base of how everything else happens. So with your punch, it comes from the power of your feet and your hips. So getting them planted, getting the perfect set angle, that's kind of what I've been working on."

Coach Dennis Allen said although all of New Orleans' rookies are improving, they're still rookies and the drive for improvement is never ending.

For Penning, in the present, it has come down to sweating the technique.

"I've learned from all the good coaches here that we've got, (former Saints tackle and assistant offensive line) Coach (Zach) Strief, (offensive line) Coach (Doug) Marrone. We're working every day, we're working technique, getting better at that and just progressing.

"I've definitely gotten a lot better. It's just a lot of technique stuff that I wasn't learning in college. Over time you get to learn, you start doing it in team period, you start doing it in (individual period), you get more confident in your ability and just go from there."

Mind you, Penning isn't casting stones at his college coaches. His development at Northern Iowa helped make him a first-round draft choice and the possible replacement at left tackle for Terron Armstead, one of the best linemen in franchise history who signed with Miami as an unrestricted free agent.

But Penning was able to get by without being as sound.

"It was a lot of different stuff being taught that I wasn't taught in college," he said. "You didn't need it in college. You were more physically gifted than a lot of them. Here, you're going against everybody who'd just as physically gifted as you, so you've got to have good technique."

That improved technique, and the increased reps he has received in OTAs because some veterans opted to skip the voluntary workouts, have pushed Penning's development forward.

"I think it'll help a ton," he said. "Just getting reps against NFL players, that's going to help a ton. Really, it helps slow the game down. You kind of get used to it, you kind of get the feel of what NFL pass rushers are like."

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