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Senio Kelemete is impressing the coaching staff at training camp

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. — Saints offensive line coach Brett Ingalls is optimistic about how the offensive line will perform next season, but he’s been more impressed with how some guys further down the depth chart have performed.

One of the things that have stood out to him through the first week of training camp is interior lineman Senio Kelemete has performed. A backup guard last year, the team has been trying him out at center and Ingalls is pleased with what he’s seen.

“He was a backup guard and we didn’t know if he could play center and we didn’t have time to find that out,” Ingalls said. “Now he’s playing center and now his value is a lot higher because he can play both positions and is doing very well at center.”

Ingalls also said he’s pleased with the growth Bryce Harris, who served as a backup tackle last year, and interior offensive lineman Mike McGlynn have performed. McGlynn, who was signed this offseason, received some reps at left guard during a walk-through before being sidelined with an undisclosed injury.

As for the other guys deeper on the roster, Ingalls said one of the traits he most values is versatility.

“You have to have versatility,” Ingalls said. “The ideal thing is to get your next best guy on the field.”

Coaching staff using off day to work ahead

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. — While members of the Saints were given Tuesday off to get away from football, it provides an opportunity for the coaching staff to look over procedures and evaluate players.

With 90 players on the roster, the coaching staff takes time to sit down with the scouts, who are in West Virginia for another week, to discuss the personnel and restack the depth chart. We’ve already seen the results of some of those moves with players like linebacker Kasim Edebali and defensive tackle Bobby Richardson moving up the depth chart in recent practices.

“Every third or fourth night we’ll have that meeting and that might go until, last night, 11:40 or 11:45,” coach Sean Payton said. “You’re going through each position group and you’re just talking about the progress of each player. So, when you’re at 90, obviously, that can take a while.”

The coaching staff also planned to work ahead on getting familiar with New Orleans’ Week 1 opponent, the Arizona Cardinals, and the first preseason game against Baltimore. It also will lay out the practice schedule for the next two weeks, as well as Friday’s Black and Gold scrimmage.

While the players were given the opportunity to get away from the game, they were expected to come in for treatment and to work out.

Press pause on Saints’ return battle until live work begins

Saints_Camp_Football.1WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. — There are no shortage of applicants to handle return duties for the Saints this season.

Jalen Saunders is back after offering an exciting taste last year. Rookie Marcus Murphy has a lengthy resume in the field.

And a few key players on offense, namely C.J. Spiller and Brandin Cooks, could also factor into the mix, opening a potential roster spot.

Five days into training camp, though, the return men remain hard to evaluate.

“We haven’t really had a live bullet,” assistant coach Joel Thomas said. “That’s the one thing we’re really looking forward to when we get to scrimmage situatons, and obviously, the preseason.”

Spiller, who has two return touchdowns in his career, can be a dynamic kick returner.

“With C.J. on kick returns, you can go back to YouTube and find his clips, and he’s changed games for the Bills when he was there,” Thomas said. “He can be a straight-line guy, yet run through an arm tackle as well.”

Thomas is intrigued by the rest of the return game talents, too, ven if the mix won’t start to separate until the Saints can see them in live action.

“Murph, the way he did in college, I watched it firsthand when we were at Arkansas, playing against them, and I was nervous in the punt return game and the kickoff return game,” Thomas said. “Obviously, Jalen rejuvenated some things, Brandin is very focused back there as well, but they’re all just a little bit different as far as their styles.”

Dannell Ellerbe returns to participation at Saints’ walk-through

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. — Veteran linebacker Dannell Ellerbe is participating in the Saints’ afternoon practice, a daily walk-through.

Ellerbe, who hasn’t practiced since the second day of training camp, lined up with the starters next to David Hawthorne at inside linebacker.

During the morning practice, Ellerbe could be seen running sprints back and forth under the watchful eye of a trainer, a step that could signal he’ll return soon. Cornerback Brian Dixon returned to action on Monday after going through the same step on Sunday.

Left tackle Terron Armstead, who left Monday’s morning practice early, is on the field at the walk-through, but he’s not participating.

Notes and observations from Day 5 of training camp

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. — Notes and observations from Monday’s practice:

Sub day: The Saints shifted their focus to working on their nickel defense during Monday’s practice. The defensive line consisted of Cam Jordan and Kasim Edebali as the defensive ends, with Akiem Hicks and Kevin Williams on the inside. Stephone Anthony and David Hawthorne worked as the linebackers. With Keenan Lewis and Brandon Browner working as the outside receivers, Delvin Breaux covered the slot. Rafael Bush and Kenny Vaccaro were the deep safeties.

Bouncing back: After struggling a little bit during Sunday’s practice, Hau’oli Kikaha turned things around today. He appeared to have a better plan during one-on-one rushing drills against the offensive line and was able to win a few of his turns. He also had a pressure during team drills. Good sign the rookie was able to correct some of his mistakes and get on the right side of things again.

Slot focus: It looks like Breaux is the leader for the slot job. He worked with the first- and third-team defense as the slot corner, while Kyle Wilson worked with the other units. P.J. Williams is another candidate for the job, but he did not practice on Monday. Breaux appears poised to lockdown the job. He displayed quick hips and the ability to keep up with receivers in the short area of the field.

Armstead goes down: Terron Armstead left at the end of practice for unspecified reasons. It is not known when he became injured and Sean Payton declined to explain why he was not on the field at the end of practice. Bryce Harris took Armstead’s place in the starting lineup. For my point of view, Nick Becton has outperformed Harris and could soon move ahead of Harris on the depth chart.

Coleman update: Brandon Coleman had a dropped pass in team drills, his second one of training camp, but continues to look good in practice. He quickly redeemed himself later in the practice and had the currency to get away with an error after reeling in an incredible one-handed catch during 7-on-7 drills. Coleman received a good amount of snaps out of the slot when the team used three-receiver sets.

Kicker update: Dustin Hopkins might have further widened the gap in the kicker competition. He drilled all four of his attempts. Zach Hocker missed from 45 yards.

Base defense: Cam Jordan, Kevin Williams, John Jenkins, Akiem Hicks/Stephone Anthony, David Hawthorne, Hau’oli Kikaha/Keenan Lewis, Brandon Browner, Kenny Vaccaro, Rafael Bush.

Base defense (second team): Lawrence Virgil, Bobby Richardson, Tyeler Davison, Parys Haralson/Ronald Powell, Jerry Franklin, Ramon Humber/Stanely Jean-Baptiste, Delvin Breaux, Vinnie Sunseri, Kenny Phillips

Base defense (third team): Tavaris Barnes, Ashaad Mabry, Kasim Edebali/Ronald Powell, Jerry Franklin, Henry Coley/Kyle Wilson, Terrence Frederick, Pierre Warren, Jamarca Sanford.

Results from 1-on-1s

Offense
Zach Strief: 1-0-1
Jahri Evans: 0-1
Terron Armstead: 2-0
Max Unger: 2-0
Tim Lelito: 1-2
Andrus Peat: 0-2-1
Sean Hickey: 3-2
Senio Kelemete: 2-1
Cyril Lemon: 1-2
Bryce Harris: 1-2
Antonio Johnson: 1-2
Cole Manhart: 1-1
Mike Golic Jr.: 0-2
Nick Becton: 1-1

Defense
Kasim Edebali: 1-2
Cam Jordan: 1-0-1
Akiem Hicks: 2-0
John Jenkins: 1-3
Bobby Richardson: 2-2
Parys Haralson: 0-1
Kevin Williams: 0-1
Ronald Powell: 1-2-1
Markus Pierce-Brewster: 2-0
Lawrence Virgil: 1-1
Tavaris Barnes: 2-0
Kaleb Eulls: 2-0
Tyeler Davison: 1-2
Ashaad Mabry: 1-1
Hau’oli Kikaha: 1-1

Brees passing
1. Incomplete to Coleman (drop)
2. Incomplete to Coleman
3. Complete to Nick Toon
4. Incomplete to Jack Tabb (drop)

McCown passing
1. Complete to Joe Morgan
2. Complete to Joe Morgan
3. Complete to Lance Lewis
4. complete to C.J. Spiller

Griffin passing
1. Incomplete to Lance Lewis
2. Complete to Brandon Coleman (TD)

Grayson passing
1. Incomplete to Jalen Saunders

 

 

Saints’ Parys Haralson doesn’t feel any different at defensive end

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WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. — Parys Haralson is playing a different position in training camp than where he spent last season.

Used as a strong-side linebacker in his first two seasons in New Orleans, Haralson has worked exclusively at defensive end.

Haralson is still listed on the team roster as an outside linebacker, but he warms up with the defensive ends and lines up with his hand on the ground in New Orleans’ base defense.

“Defensive end, outside linebacker, one stands up, one puts their hand down,” Haralson said. “It’s the same thing.”

New Orleans brought Haralson back on a one-year deal, but the Saints clearly envisioned moving him to defensive end, given that the team signed veteran free agent Anthony Spencer and drafted both Hau’oli Kikaha and Davis Tull, all of whom fit on the strong side along with Ronald Powell.

Haralson says he already had experience on the defensive line.

“Not really, because I played both of them last year, playing the majority of it this year,” Haralson said. “We run a bunch of different kind of things, we use a bunch of different packages, and I just hope to be ready when I’m called.”

Terron Armstead leaves practice early

Left tackle Terron Armstead left the field during the team portion of the Saints’ Monday morning practice and did not return.

Saints coach Sean Payton declined to offer an update on Armstead after the practice. Armstead did not go down to the field visibly during the practice and left the field quietly.

Bryce Harris, who started on the left side when Armstead was injured last season, stepped in for Armstead later in the practice.

The big left tackle has been one of the most dominant players in  training camp so far. In 1-on-1 pass rush drills, Armstead has dominated almost every opponent, and there’s a feeling that the athletic tackle could be on the cusp of becoming one of the NFL’s best.

No update on Armstead will likely be available until the afternoon walk-through.

Tight end Josh Hill, rookie P.J. Williams out of Saints practice; still no Jairus Byrd

Two new Saints have been added to the list of players missing practice.

Tight end Josh Hill, who caught a couple of passes on Sunday, is wearing a jersey and walking the sideline.

But rookie cornerback P.J. Williams is out of practice entirely, although the Saints get Brian Dixon back off of the non-football injury list.

Veteran linebacker Dannell Ellerbe and defensive tackle Glenn Foster might be close to returning. Both are running across the field, the same thing Dixon did before his return.

Outside linebackers Anthony Spencer and Davis Tull are riding the stationary bike. Neither veteran safety Jairus Byrd or tight end Kevin Brock appear to be on the field.

Undrafted Saints tackle Bobby Richardson turning heads early

Saints_Camp_Football

Every year, an undrafted free agent comes out of nowhere to make the Saints’ 53-man roster.

Bobby Richardson is already forcing his way into the mix.

Four days into training camp, Richardson, a defensive tackle from Indiana, has arguably been better than any Saints rookie other than impressive middle linebacker Stephone Anthony.

“Bobby had a couple good snaps today, and that’s encouraging,” Saints coach Sean Payton said. “(He’s) obviously competing for a spot, and a niche.”

Richardson, at 6-foot-3, 286 pounds, looks a little undersized to play the interior at first glance.

But the former Hoosier has the first step of a defensive end, impressive lateral quickness and attacks relentlessly.

Richardson opened Sunday’s practice by torching projected starter Tim Lelito with an inside move in one-on-one pass rush competition, batted down a pass during 11-on-11 work and ripped through a double team for a “sack” of backup quarterback Ryan Griffin.

The rookie has shown so much promise so far — Richardson also sacked Drew Brees on the opening day — that he’s been rotating in with the starters from day one.

“He has great explosion, uses his hands,” veteran Saints tackle Kevin Williams said. “I keep whispering to him, giving little tidbits here and there. We’re going to see him do some good things.”

Williams, a five-time All-Pro who has built a 13-year career around quickness, has taken the talented Richardson under his wing.

So far, one of Richardson’s strengths has also been his biggest weakness. As relentless as he is, Richardson can sometimes be reckless and play out of his gap or rush lane.

Williams is helping the rookie figure out how to play under control.

“You’ve got to play the game, but you’ve got to be able to recognize and read your keys and read your hats, read the guy in front of you and know what you’re getting,” Williams said.

Notes and observations from Day 4 of training camp

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. — Notes and observations from Sunday’s practice:

Rookie moment: Seantavius Jones is entering his second season with the team, after spending last year on the practice squad, but that doesn’t mean he is immune to errors. The wide receiver was yanked off the field at one point after lining up in the wrong spot. That’s not the of mistake you want to make when the competition at wide receiver is so tight.

Vaccaro has big day: The fact that Kenny Vaccaro will be playing more in the box this season is a good thing. We saw why Sunday. The safety recorded a tackle for a loss, sacked Drew Brees, and then lit up wide receiver Josh Morgan on the sidelines. Letting Vaccaro off the chain to roam the box should help the defense.

Rookie woes: Hau’oli Kikaha has all the talent and speed to be an effective pass rusher in the NFL. He needs to harness it. The second-round pick at times appears that he is lacking a plan when rushing the passer, which was most evident during a one-on-one drill with the offensive line. He needs to rein it in and figure out what he wants to do before he does it.

Sub day: The Saints began installing their sub packages today and the first man up as the slot cornerback was Delvin Breaux. We saw him do some of that during the offseason and he appears to have the ability to cover the position. Breaux also possesses the ability to play outside. If he wins the job, it would give the Saints more options on how to build the depth chart.

Richardson praise: The undrafted defensive lineman is on the rise. On Saturday, he caught the eye again with a number of solid moments. During one-on-one drills, he smoked Tim Lelito with an inside move. He later batted down a pass and recorded a sack during team drills.

Peat watch: Andrus Peat hasn’t lit the world on fire during the first two days in pads. He’s been shaky in pass-rush drills and allowed a sack on Sunday. After keeping an eye on him, it appears he is going to have to polish up his technique a bit.

Results from pass-rushing drills:

Offense
Zach Strief: 1-1-1
Max Unger: 3-0
Tim Lelito: 0-3
Terron Armstead: 2-0
Jahri Evans: 1-1-1
Andrus Peat: 1-1
Sean Hickey: 1-2
Senio Kelemete: 1-1
Cyril Lemon: 3-0
Bryce Harris: 1-1
Antonio Johnson: 2-0
Cole Manhart: 1-1
Nick Becton: 2-0
Mike Golic Jr.: 1-0

Defense
Ronald Powell: 0-3
John Jenkins: 0-2
Kevin Williams: 1-1
Cam Jordan: 1-1-1
Akiem Hicks: 1-0-1
Bobby Richardson: 1-2
Parys Haralson: 0-2
Lawrence Virgil: 2-0
Tyeler Davison: 1-1
Kaleb Eulls: 0-2
Kasim Edebali: 1-1
Markus Pierce-Brewster: 1-2
Tavaris Barnes: 1-0
Hau’oli Kikaha: 0-2
Ashaad Mabry: 1-1

Drew Brees passing
1. Complete to Brandin Cooks (deep pass. Something appears to have broken in the coverage)
2. Complete to Erik Lorig (dump off)
3. Complete to Austin Johnson (delayed screen)
4. Sacked by Kenny Vaccaro (C.J. Spiller in blitz pickup)
5. Complete to Josh Morgan (crossing route; Keenan Lewis in coverage)
6. Complete to C.J. Spiller (screen)
7. Incomplete to Joe Morgan (seam route; Delvin Breaux near pick)
8. Sacked
9. Complete to Josh Hill
10. Complete to Erik Lorig (screen)
11. Complete to Mark Ingram (screen)

Ryan Griffin passing
1. Complete to Jack Tabb (quick out route)
2. Complete to Erik Lorig (dump off)
3. Incomplete to Willie Snead
4. Complete to Josh Hill (crossing route)
5. Batted down by Bobby Richardson
6. Intercepted by Kenny Phillips (Intended for a bracketed Tabb)
7. Sacked by Bobby Richardson
8. Complete to Lance Lewis
9. Complete to Tim Hightower

Luke McCown passing
1. Sacked by Kasim Edebali (on Andrus Peat)
2. Complete to Jalen Saunders (wide receiver screen)
3. Complete to Lance Lewis (inside slant)
4. Incomplete (broken up by Jamarca Sanford)
5. Incomplete to Erik Lorig
6. Complete to Edwin Baker (screen)

Garrett Grayson passing
1. Complete to Seantavius Jones (crossing)
2. Intercepted by Henry Coley (intended for Marcus Murphy on a screen)