June is always a dangerous time to judge NFL teams. New rules negotiated by the League Players Association limit the number of contact teams they can follow during off-season practices.
So we watch men running around in shorts and T-shirts live on. Not the most effective way to evaluate football players and their skills.
But there were some things to be learned from this early hard work in the sweltering heat.
With that in mind, here are 10 notes from this week’s mini Saints camp workouts:
1. Even seasoned players go through the “feeling out” phase. This is where Tyrann Mathieu is now. For New Orleans residents, this inconvenience is about indoctrination: for saints’ culture, the menu, and the defensive system. The more comfortable he becomes in his new surroundings, the more often you will see the Honey Badger come out in it. Right now, he’s mostly trying to learn, adapt and feel his way along.
The team is now on vacation for five weeks before the start of training camp
2. It seems Andy Dalton has been in this system of saints for years. The veteran player plays on a fourth different offense in four years, so learn to be a quick study. He is decisive and accurate in football. Saints fans should be encouraged by playing it so far.
3. Watch Bryce Thompson. The defensive second year of Tennessee has the size and skill of Saints as their defensive backs. It is a versatile chess piece in the mold of CJ Gardner-Johnson / PJ Williams. He’s been working with the second team’s defense, which is a positive sign for a young player.
4. Paulson Adebo had a good vacation. The second-year cornerback has gained some strength in his upper body and plays confidently in his starting position in the left corner. Adebo, who flaunted his rifles with jersey sleeves wrapped all over the camp, looks set for a solid second season.
5. It’s always a good idea for a head coach to give you an unwanted shout out and that’s what Dennis Allen did with Karl Granderson this week. Allen praised the defensive end of Year 4 for his lead this off season. Granderson eventually capitalized on the extra reps with Marcus Davenport and Payton Turner sidelined while recovering from off-season surgeries.
Saints minicamp is in the books. The players and coaches are on vacation for the next five weeks as they take some time before training begins…
6. The odds of Trevor Benning getting into a fight during bootcamp are even money. The left intervention of the novice plays with an edge and even the whistle echoes. It’s one of the reasons why the Saints picked him in the first round of the draft. Allen scolded him for taking veteran warrior Tanoh Kabasanion to the ground during one training. These tactics won’t fly when bandages continue during boot camp.
7. Some of the young players who flash during skeleton drills and full team sessions: Louis Kidd; Lucas Kroll Kirk Merritt Navi Sewell Isaiah Pryor and Kwan Baker who look noticeably more confident in their second season. Kid has a good size, good sportsmanship and can play multiple positions. In a stadium filled with elite athletes, Merritt stands out.
8. Daniel Whelan can shoot a gamble. Consistency has been an issue for UC Davis’ illicit free agent, but there’s no doubt he has an NFL leg and could play in the league. His suspension time on some kicks exceeded 5 seconds. Whelan also won the shortest pants award on the list.
Mark Ingram had some big aspirations when he first entered the NFL.
9. César Ruiz is the support hub behind Eric McCoy, but guards Forrest Lamb and Calvin Throckmorton have also been training in this position. With Will Clapp in Los Angeles, there’s an open roster for a spare inner man. McCoy and Royce are the only two workers on the list with experience with the center.
10. Sean Payton was fond of stopping practices and inviting the whole team to talk when he really wanted to emphasize an educational point. But Allen does these full team sessions more frequently. Other than that, the practices under Allen and Peyton are nearly identical.
Editor’s note: This is the fifth in a series of stories about the 2022 inductee into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame. Induction ceremonies are J…