METAIRIE – As can be expected, the offense held the upper hand when the Saints worked on their goal-line package for the first time in training camp during Tuesday morning’s practice.
The first and second teams squared off for four series of three plays each even though the final set was cut short when rookie running back Joe Banyard was shaken up after a touchdown run.
The first-team offense, which is at a decided advantage because the ball is placed on the 1-yard line for every play, scored a total of five times in six snaps against the No. 1 defense.
Quarterback Drew Brees threw for one touchdown and ran for one when all of his receivers were covered. Running back Pierre Thomas also pushed the ball over the goal line twice, while Chris Ivory ran for one as well.
The only stop for the No. 1 defense came when Ivory was stuffed inches short of the goal line by defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis with help from rookie cornerback Corey White.
MIXED RESULTS: While Banyard had a tough day in the goal-line drills, he and fellow rookie Travaris Cadet each got a touchdown at least as the second-team defense had two stops in five snaps.
Cadet went up and over the top for his score, but on his next attempt was stopped cold by strongside linebacker Scott Shanle.
Before scoring on the final play of the drill, Banyard was smacked at the line of scrimmage by linebacker Chris Chamberlain and didn’t score.
THE HEAT IS ON: A typically steamy mid-August morning took its toll Tuesday.
Working in full pads in bright sunshine with only an occasional breeze and no cloud cover, four players were affected by the sweltering conditions with cramps although none appeared to be serious.
Tackle Jermon Bushrod, middle linebacker Curtis Lofton and wide receiver Courtney Roby were taken to the locker room before the 2-hour, 40-minute practice ended for treatment. Pierre Thomas also needed help from the training staff, but he remained on the field for the duration.
Chamberlain, who is in his first training camp with the Saints, was obviously impressed in a post-lunch tweet.
“Practice was a beast today! Never seen so many guys have to get IV’s in my life…this New Orleans weather is undefeated! Lol.”
PICKING BREES: The defense has won more than a few battles with Brees the last couple of days with two interceptions off him in either seven-on-seven or team drills both Monday and Tuesday.
On Monday, free safety Malcolm Jenkins and cornerback Patrick Robinson got him, while it was Jenkins and linebacker Jonathan Casillas on Tuesday.
When asked if they were seeing more interceptions from the defense, interim coach Joe Vitt said, “We did the last two days.”
Vitt was confident, however, that it’s because of the defense — which had only nine interceptions each of the last two seasons.
“I hope so,” he said. “I really do, and that is what we hope for in the games.”
INJURY REPORT: Not practicing Tuesday were CB Jabari Greer (hernia surgery), RB Darren Sproles (knee), DT Tom Johnson (ankle), WR Nick Toon (foot), DE Turk McBride (ankle), WR Adrian Arrington (knee), CB Kamaal McIlwain (groin) and LB Aaron Tevis (knee).
Vitt said Arrington, who had surgery to repair a torn meniscus Monday, was back in camp.
“He looks good. … He’s walking without a limp,” Vitt said. “Hopefully, sooner than later, we’ll see how his progress goes.”
EYE-CATCHING: Brees tried to squeeze a throw in to wide receiver Marques Colston in team red-zone drills, but Jenkins made a nice break on the ball and grabbed it before Colston could get his hands on it.
Rookie defensive tackle Akiem Hicks, who worked with the first-team defense in goal-line, drew oohs and aahs when he came off the ball and blew past guard Fenuki Tupou to drop Ivory for a 3-yard loss with a pad-popping tackle.
TILLER ON IR: Sixth-round draft pick Andrew Tiller, who tore his triceps muscle last week and was waived/injured Saturday, reverted back to the team when he was not claimed.
Tiller was put on injured reserve along with free-agent cornerback A.J. Davis, who has an unspecified injury.