Saints training camp: Results from Thursday’s 1-on-1s

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. — Here are the results from Thursday’s 1-on-1 drills between the defense and the offensive line:

DEFENSE
Akiem Hicks 1-1
Tyrunn Walker 0-2
Junior Galette 0-1-1
Glenn Foster 2-0
Victor Butler 1-0
George Uko 1-3
Lawrence Virgil 2-1
Cameron Jordan 1-0
Marcus Thompson 1-0
Tyronne Ezell 0-1-1
Brandon Deaderick 1-0
Chidera Uzo-Diribe 2-0
Tavon Rooks 0-1

OFFENSE
Jahri Evans 1-1
Senio Kelemete 1-1
Terron Armstead 1-0-1
Thomas Welch 0-1
Marcel Jones 1-0
Tim Lelito 1-2
Manase Foketi 1-3
Bryce Harris 0-2
Matt Armstrong 1-0-1
Jason Weaver 2-0

NOTES: I had been a little hard on how Evans and Deaderick performed in these drills over the first few days of camp. They bounced back and both looked good Thursday. Jordan had the most impressive win of the day when he absolutely blew by Harris. Virgil also had a convincing win over Foketi.

Saints DC Rob Ryan says three-safety packages more important than ever

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. — It started out as a wrinkle. Now it could become a ditch for offenses to fall victim to.

Last year, due in part to injuries  to linebackers Will Smith and Victor Butler, the Saints debuted a defense which employed three safeties. The team used those sets often last season, but it sounds like it could be featured even more prominently this year.

“I think our three safety deal, the game is changing as you know,” defensive coordinator Rob Ryan said. “You have to have more guys that can cover, run, do all of these different things, and that’s why I think the game really does evolve. The three safety package comes in a lot more than it has ever in football.”

It will be interesting to see how this comes together this year, and if the commitment to these sets is as strong as some of the offseason moves suggest. It will also be interesting to see how the pieces fit into this puzzle.

Coach Sean Payton said in April that the team has a “clearer” vision for how Kenny Vaccaro will be used this season after moving him about the secondary in 2013.

Does that mean he will spend more time covering the slot after doing so on 163 snaps last season, or does it mean that he will be freed up to roam more?

Some of that will likely depend on how the picture comes together at cornerback, and if a healthy and deeper secondary means Corey White is kicked inside more often.

Whatever the case, Ryan says he intends to use his safeties quite heavily this season.

 “We are fortunate enough,” Ryan said. “We have five really talented safeties on the roster.  We plan on playing them all because they’re really good players.”

 

Registration for Saints 5K kickoff run opens

Advocate staff photo by DANIEL ERATH -- Runners make their way onto Poydras Street during the Saints Back to Football 5k run in New Orleans on Saturday August 31, 2013 beginning in Champions Square and ending at the 50 yard line in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Advocate staff photo by DANIEL ERATH — Runners make their way onto Poydras Street during the Saints Back to Football 5k run in New Orleans on Saturday August 31, 2013 beginning in Champions Square and ending at the 50 yard line in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Saints fans wanting to take part in a 5-kilometer race that begins in Champions Square, leads participants through the French Quarter as well as the team tunnel in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and culminates at the 50-yard line of the stadium field can sign up now.

Registration for the “2014 Saints Kickoff Run” at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 6, opened Wednesday at Saints5k.com. The third edition of the annual race will also feature an NFL “Play 60″ Fun Run for Kids, and the proceeds of both events will benefit the New Orleans Recreation Development Commission and the Louisiana Children’s Museum.

Registration costs for the Kickoff Run are $40 from Wednesday to Aug. 19; $50 from Aug. 20 to Sept. 2; and $60 on the weekend of the race, if available. The Saints then kick off the regular season the next day at Atlanta. For the Fun Run, it’s $15, $20 and $25 during the aforementioned dates.

“We can’t think of a better way to kick off another great season of Saints football than to join together and do what we do best — celebrate football, our fans and taking care of our community,” said Rita Benson LeBlanc, team co-owner and vice chairwoman of the board.

Visit Saints5k.com for more information.

Morning links: Jairus Byrd returns

Good morning, everyone. We have some great stories in today’s Advocate.

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Saints safety Jairus Byrd calls defensive signals during training camp Tuesday at The Greenbriar in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va.

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS — Saints safety Jairus Byrd calls defensive signals during training camp Tuesday at The Greenbriar in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va.

My main story is about the complex competitions the quarterbacks engage in after practices. 

Ramon Antonio Vargas has all things Jairus Byrd covered.

Gary Estwick checks in with the notebook, which leads with the play of Brandin Cooks. 

The Saints are off today, but we are not — at least not entirely. We’ll have some stuff up later today, but will be taking some time to explore Lewisburg, West Virginia.

Saints training camp: Results from 1-on-1s

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. — One of my favorite things to keep an eye on is the one-on-ones between the offensive and defensive linemen.

I’ve been charting them the last few days at practice, and will share the results below. Please note, however, that these numbers are incomplete since my notebook was destroyed in a rainstorm earlier this week.

Offense
Jonathan Goodwin: 2-0-1
Ty Nsekhe: 3-1
Marcel Jones: 4-0
Tim Lelito: 3-1
Manase Foketi: 5-2
Bryce Harris: 3-2
Jason Weaver: 3-1-1
Thomas Welch: 2-4
Terron Armstead: 4-2
Zach Strief: 1-1
Jahri Evans: 1-2
Senio Kelemete: 1-1
Tavon Rooks: 1-1

Defense
Brandon Deaderick: 1-6
Victor Butler: 0-2
George Uko: 1-4
Lawrence Virgil: 2-1-1
Tyrunn Walker: 1-3
Keyunta Dawson: 1-3
Rufus Johnson Jr.: 2-1
Tyrone Ezell: 1-3
Kasim Edebali: 2-2
Glenn Foster: 1-2
Cameron Jordan: 1-1
Akiem Hicks: 1-1
Junior Galette: 1-1
Chidera Uzo-Diribe: 1-1
Khairi Fortt: 0-1
Ronald Powell: 0-1

Saints safety Jairus Byrd back in pads

Saints safety Jairus Byrd wore pads and took the field Tuesday morning for the first time since undergoing a surgery to repair a problematic disk in his back in late May. Byrd was sidelined for all offseason practices as well as minicamp in June while he recovered.

Byrd’s first work on the field with the Saints since joining them on a six-year, $54 million free-agent deal in March was lining up with the 1s on defense in a walkthrough and some skeleton drills. He also fielded punts, which he hasn’t done in the NFL but did in college.

Byrd hinted at his return in a message on Twitter early Tuesday, writing to his followers, “Thankful for this day… Be blessed.”

It was the first tweet Byrd himself wrote since July 20.

After making the NFL as a second-round draft choice by Buffalo in 2009, Byrd leads all NFL safeties with 22 interceptions. The Saints hope he helps them generate more turnovers on defense — their 19 takeaways last year were the fourth-fewest in the NFL.

In other injury news, Saints receiver Robert Meachem was back in pads after sitting out Sunday and Monday in pads. Rookie sixth-round draft pick Tavon Rooks was also back in pads after missing the first four days of training camp with a hurt back that put him on the non-football injury list.

Neither left guard Ben Grubbs nor receiver Kenny Stills were back in pads yet.

Grubbs dressed out Sunday but mostly observed; he did not participate on Monday. Stills tweaked a quad Friday and has not returned to drills.

Nose tackle John Jenkins, who’s on the physically unable to perform list while reportedly recovering from pec surgery, is not in pads.

Lastly, after leaving practice early Sunday with cramps, rookie receiver Steve Hull was in pads and on the field.

Saints’ tendencies: Breaking down Drew Brees’ route tree

As I attempt to get up to speed on all things Saints before the start of the regular season, I felt one of the better places to start was by getting a better grasp on some of the team’s tendencies.

So, over the next few weeks, when time permits, we’ll take a closer look at some of the data I was able to cobble together by watching the team’s 2013  games, perusing Pro Football Focus’ databases, and  talking to people.

Today we take a look at how Drew Brees performed when trying to connect on various routes:

WR/TE Screens: 7-7, 13 yards
Quick outs: 45-52, 260 yards, 4 TDs, 5 drops
Slants: 28-39, 295 yards, 2 TDs
Out routes: 45-58, 532 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT, 2 drops
In routes: 19-31, 282 yards, 2 INTs, 3 drops
Comebacks: 2-3, 23 yards
Hitches: 73-93, 662 yards, 4 TDs, 2 INTs, 4 drops
Corner routes: 7-16, 149 yards, 1 drop
Posts: 17-35, 287 yards, 5 TDs, 2 INTs
Go routes: 29-73, 1,114, 14 TDs, 2 INTs, 3 drops
Crossing: 43-56, 628, 2 TDs, 3 INTs, 3 drops
HB screens: 43-46, 315 yards, 2 TDs, 1 drop
HB non-screens: 88-103, 602 yards, 3 TDs, 3 drops

Notes: The first thing that jumps out in these numbers is the go routes. The Saints attempt more than 4.5 per game, and connect on less than two per contest. That’s not exactly a high-percentage play, but the misses are well worth it when you average 38 yards per completion. The other thing that pops out is Brees’ accuracy on short and intermediate routes. Take away corner, post and go routes, and Brees’ completion percentage on all other routes was close to 80 percent in 2013.

 

 

Despite how it might look, Sean Payton says Corey White has not lined up at safety

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. — Even if Corey White is lined up in the area where a safety typically lines up, and even if he’s playing center field in a single-high set, don’t call him a safety.

It doesn’t matter what it looks like. The Saints maintain that White is a cornerback. And as a cornerback, there are times he is required to do things that a safety might do, which is apparently what has been happening in practices the last few days .

Corey White lined up where a safety typically plays during Monday's practice. Photo by Nick Underhill

Corey White lined up where a safety typically plays during Monday’s practice. Photo by Nick Underhill

“It might be because of a formation that we’re in,” head coach Sean Payton said. “His primary snaps are coming at corner or in the slot. It might be a formation or an in-and-out coverage that all of the sudden puts him high. His role is going to be as a corner, an inside corner, and someone in the kicking game.”

Whatever the case, there have been a number of times during training camp that White appears to have lined up as a safety. But, according to Payton, it should not be taken as an indication that White is being given a new set of responsibilities.