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Notes and observations from Thursday’s practice

Notes and observations from Thursday’s practice:

BREAUX SHOW CONTINUES: We’ve reached the point where Delvin Breaux’s performance in practices is going to create unreasonable expectations if we’re not careful. His legend grows every single day. I pointed out earlier in the week how well he’s performed in one-on-one drills with wide receivers. He did it again today, running a Lance Lewis route better than Lewis, and then by breaking up a pass to Marques Colston. Brandin Cooks finally beat him on a third rep.

COVERAGE BREAKDOWN: Brandon Coleman showed his red-zone prowess late in practice by catching a pass in the end zone to end a hurry-up session. It looked like he did a good job getting behind the defense – and he did – but the play was the result of a broken coverage by Keenan Lewis and Rafael Bush. Bush said he was looking forward to getting a look at the film and correcting the mistakes.

KICKER BATTLE: The battle between Dustin Hopkins and Zach Hocker carries on. Hopkins took another step forward by connecting on all four of his kicks. Hocker missed at least one from 34 yards. Depending on the angle, some might say Hocker also missed from 44. That one looked good to me, but others believed he missed. Either way, Hopkins took another step toward the job.

GRAYSON MIXED: Today was another reminder that it will be a process for Garrett Grayson. He made some terrible throws in 7-on-7 drills, then placed a ball right over cornerback Travis Manning on a pass to Seantavius Jones. It’s going to be back and forth for him. I said it before, how he looks next year will matter a whole lot more.

DIXON UP AND DOWN: Brian Dixon had a few really good practices earlier this week. He had some issues in coverage today, but still logged a pass break up, a forced fumble, and made a few really good plays on special teams. He’s still alive in this race.

Brees passing
1. Incomplete to Josh Hill
2. Complete to Marques Colston
3. Complete to Toben Oporum
4. Complete to Ben Watson
5. Complete to Brandin Cooks
6. Incomplete to Brandon Coleman
7. Incomplete to Joe Morgan
8. Complete to Austin Johnson
9. Complete to Josh Hill
10. Incomplete to Brandon Coleman
11. Incomplete (Stephone Anthony PBU)
12. Complete to Ben Watson
13. Complete to Ben Watson
14. Complete to Brandon Coleman

Griffin Passing
1. Complete to Josh Morgan
2. Complete to Orson Charles
3. Sacked by Kasim Edebali
4. Incomplete to Lance Lewis
5. Incomplete to R.J. Harris (Stanley Jean-Baptiste PBU)
6. Complete to Josh Hill
7. Complete to Josh Morgan
8. Incomplete to Josh Morgan
9. Incomplete to Willie Snead
10. Complete
11. Complete to Tim Hightower

McCown passing
1. Complete to R.J. Harris

Grayson passing
1. Incomplete to Josh Hill
2. Complete to Willie Snead
3. Complete to Marcus Murphy

Ramon Humber, Brandon Browner, Hau’oli Kikaha return to practice

The New Orleans Saints appear to be close to getting some of their key defenders back.

Brandon Browner, for the second time in three days, is out at practice but not in pads.

Veteran linebacker Ramon Humber is also out at practice for the first time since suffering an injury against Baltimore.

In addition, rookie outside linebacker Hau’oli Kikaha is back after one day off.

No new injuries appear to be present. Jairus Byrd, C.J. Spiller, Khiry Robinson, P.J. Williams, Ronald Powell, Dannell Ellerbe, Nick Toon and Anthony Spencer remain out of practice.

Saints using preseason to tinker with configuration of coaching staff during games

The Saints are using the preseason to find a set of best practices for the coaching staff during the season.

During the first preseason game, the team had linebackers coach Joe Vitt on the sidelines and defensive assistant Dennis Allen up in the press box. During the second game, Allen came down to the sidelines and Vitt moved up to the box.

It’s likely the team will continue moving people around this week against the Houston Texans to determine the best configuration. Those involved are open to trying out new things.

“We actually switched around all our coaches,” Vitt said. “Sean’s doing everything he can to make sure we’re crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s and evaluating everything that we’re doing.

“So I spent a week in the press box last week trying to look at the review monitors and see if we can get a better way to identify personnel coming in the game defensively, how many more sets we’re going to need.”

On offense, as he did last season, Payton has also allowed offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael to call plays for the offense.

For the players, the tinkering has not had a major impact. No matter who is on the sidelines or calling plays, they simply take direction and try to execute whatever they’re being told to do.

“Not at all. We make adjustments during the game,” safety Kenny Vaccaro said. “You don’t freak out. We watch the tape after the game. We don’t really do too much. They kind of motivate us, give us tips or clues, but when we’re out there we’re on our own.”

Source: Saints move to void $1.25M owed to Junior Galette

The Saints are attempting to avoid paying the guaranteed money owed to former pass rusher Junior Galette.

The Saints are claiming Galette voided the guarantee on his base $1.25 million salary by violating the “rep and warranty language” in his contract, according to a source.

Fox Sports Mike Garafolo first reported the Saints were moving to void Galette’s guarantees.

Galette was released by the Saints last month and recently signed with the Washington Redskins. He reportedly tore his Achilles during Wednesday’s practice, according to the NFL Network.

The Saints were still on the hook for the $1.25 million  base salary because it was guaranteed for skill, injury and cap. New Orleans paid $12.5 million to Galette during the spring before he was released.

Galette, however, was released following a string of off-field incidents. He was arrested for domestic violence in January, but the charge was later dropped by prosecutors.

A video then emerged of a 2013 beach brawl that showed a man who resembles Galette striking a woman with a belt. The Saints turned the video over to the NFL.

Notes and observations from Wednesday’s practice

Notes and observations from Wednesday’s practice:

Dixon up: Kyle Wilson isn’t the only one making a late push to crack the roster. Fellow cornerback Brian Dixon has come strong in recent days. After breaking up at least two passes during Tuesday’s practice, he came back and broke up a pass today intended for Lance Lewis. After looking to be well behind some of the others at cornerback, Dixon is moving his way back toward the middle of the bubble.

Don’t do it Lance: Rough day for wide receiver Lance Lewis. He ran a great route late in Wednesday’s practice, beating a cornerback down the field for what looked like a sure touchdown pass from Garrett Grayson, but he let the perfectly placed pass fall through his arms. Those kind of mistakes stand out when you’re a long shot to make the club.

No Payton: Coach Sean Payton wasn’t in attendance at practice. Linebackers coach Joe Vitt took control of the session so that Payton could escort his daughter, Meghan, to college.

Joe Morgan up: The veteran wide receiver continues to look good. He got open deep early in the session for a deep reception from Drew Brees that required an adjustment to the ball. He then burned cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste for another deep reception that would have gone for a touchdown. Those are the plays he has to make if Morgan wants to make the team.

Brees passing
1. Complete to Ben Watson
2. Complete to Joe Morgan
3. Complete to Ben Watson
4. Sacked by Rafael Bush
5. Complete to Marques Colston (one-handed on Stanley Jean-Baptiste)
6. Incomplete to Josh Morgan (broken up by Kasim Edebali)
7. Complete to Marques Colston
8. Cam Jordan sack
9. Incomplete to Brandin Cooks (out of bounds)
10. Complete to Mark Ingram
11. Complete to Joe Morgan

McCown passing
1. Complete to Ben Watson
2. Complete to Willie Snead
3. Complete to Marques Colston
4. Scramble
5. Complete to Willie Snead
6. Complete to R.J. Harris
7. Complete to Josh Hill

Griffin passing
1. Incomplete to Lance Lewis (broken up by Brian Dixon)
2. Complete to Toben Oporum
3. Sacked by Parys Haralson
4. Fumbled snap
5. Dropped by Toben Oporum
6. Incomplete to R.J. Harris
7. Incomplete to Toben Oporum (Jerry Franklin coverage)
8. Incomplete to Josh Hill (Henry Coley coverage)

Grayson passing
1. Complete to Jalen Saunders
2. Complete to Edwin Baker
3. Complete to Seantavius Jones
4. Incomplete to Lance Lewis (drop)

Keenan Lewis, Hau’oli Kikaha out

Cornerback Keenan Lewis appears to be out of practice, and rookie linebacker Hau’oli Kikaha is at practice but out of helmet and pads for the Saints’ Wednesday practice.

Lewis went through a full practice and met with the media on Tuesday, telling reporters he’s almost back to full strength.

Rookie guard Cyril Lemon is also not in helmet and pads.

New Orleans does not appear to have anybody new back to work on Wednesday.

Brandon Browner, who was at practice on Tuesday, remains out. C.J. Spiller, Khiry Robinson, P.J. Williams, Ramon Humber, Ronald Powell, Dannell Ellerbe, Nick Toon, Anthony Spencer and Jairus Byrd are all out of practice.

Saints’ Joe Morgan feels like he’s making his case as a complete receiver

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Saints WR joe Morgan (13) turns upfield with the ball after catching a pass during the Saints' morning Training Camp practice Monday in White Sulphur Springs, WV.

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS — Saints WR Joe Morgan (13) turns upfield with the ball after catching a pass during the Saints’ morning Training Camp practice Monday in White Sulphur Springs, WV.

Joe Morgan wants to be known for more than just his speed.

He wants to be known as a complete receiver.

Nearly a month into training camp, Morgan thinks he’s been able to prove he can handle more than just the deep ball, and it may have him in line for a coveted roster spot in a crowded group of receivers.

“I started off camp playing the X receiver, and I’d been a Z since I’d been here,” Morgan said. “X, the guys are running more routes, you could say, so it’s given me an opportunity to focus on the little things that goes into running routes.”

In the past week, with the Saints’ personnel rotations seemingly solidified in practices against the New England Patriots, Morgan seemed to be among the top group, the five receivers that got the vast majority of the work with franchise quarterback Drew Brees.

Brees has been impressed with what he’s seen fr

“(Joe’s) coming every day with a level of consistency that he has been missing in the past,” Brees said. “I have been very pleased with him.”

Morgan might have built a better all-around game, but it’s his ability to get deep that sets him apart.

Against the Patriots last week, Morgan got free for a deep ball from Brees over the head of cornerback Malcolm Butler, one of the stars of New England’s camp.

Brees and Morgan seem to have a special chemistry on the deep ball.

“I would say the last couple weeks, we’ve seen his speed, which was encouraging,” Saints coach Sean Payton said. “Now it’s just putting it on the field, and part of it’s getting those opportunities, those touch opportunities that sometimes you can go in a game and maybe not get as many.”

Morgan missed one of those opportunities on Saturday night.

Wide-open on a slant, Morgan dropped a ball that could have gone for big yardage. Through two preseason games, he has five catches for 30 yards, but that one could have been a signature moment.

“That’s always been one of my problems,” Morgan said. “I saw an opportunity for a huge play. … I took my eyes off the ball and tried to look downfield a little bit.”

Now, Morgan has to keep moving forward in a wide receiver race that goes as many as eight or nine deep in contention for a roster spot.

A veteran of plenty of these training camp battles, Morgan relishes the challenge.

“First and foremost, it’s fun,” Morgan said. “You’ve been playing football since you were what, seven years old? That’s what you come out here to do is compete. You don’t just go to get things handed to you.”

Saints schedule Friday night practice for Tulane’s Yulman Stadium

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Saints coach Sean Payton stops to chat with a player while they do stretching exercises before the Saints' Black and Gold Training Camp Scrimmage Friday  in White Sulphur Springs, WV.

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS — Saints coach Sean Payton stops to chat with a player while they do stretching exercises before the Saints’ Black and Gold Training Camp Scrimmage Friday in White Sulphur Springs, WV.

The New Orleans Saints have shifted the final day of training camp to a Friday night workout under the lights.

The Saints have moved Friday’s practice to Tulane’s Yulman Stadium from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

New Orleans originally scheduled the practice for 8:40 a.m., then shifted the practice times for all days at the team’s Metairie facility to 11 a.m. earlier this week.

Friday’s practice at Yulman Stadium will be open to the public.

Still looking for first preseason sack, Saints making pass rush a point of emphasis


Two games into the preseason, the New Orleans Saints are still looking for their first sack.

Undrafted free agent Bobby Richardson came the closest, getting both hands on Jimmy Garoppolo late in the first half Saturday night, only to watch the Patriots’ passer spin away.

New Orleans will continue to try to find the best way to rush the passer through the final two weeks of the preseason.

“It’s a work in progress, but certainly, it is a point of emphasis,” Saints coach Sean Payton said. “Whether you’re getting it from your four-man rush or you have to get it from pressure, but it’s something we’re working on.”

In practices, the New Orleans defensive line has produced plenty of pressure, but the Saints haven’t been able to transfer it to the preseason field yet.

According to Pro Football Focus, the Saints have 13 quarterback hurries and four quarterback hits through the first two weeks.

“Pressures are good, but sacks are better,” defensive end Cam Jordan said last week.

With a crowded race for a roster spot under way among a deep group of undrafted defensive linemen, the rookies have tried to take it on themselves to come up with a sack.

Now that the Saints are in Metairie, the rookies have closed every practice by working on the pass rush at the middle of field.

“Even this week, we’re working extra pass rush moves with (Saints assistant Brian Young), trying to get to the passer,”  rookie defensive end Tavaris Barnes said. “That’s what the league is about.”

Keenan Lewis thinks last week’s secondary injuries could help Saints down the line

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Saints CB Keenan Lewis (21) defends TE Benjamin Watson (82) on a pass play  during the Saints' morning Training Camp practice Friday in White Sulphur Springs, WV.

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS — Saints CB Keenan Lewis (21) defends TE Benjamin Watson (82) on a pass play during the Saints’ morning Training Camp practice Friday in White Sulphur Springs, WV.

The nicks and bruises that kept the Saints’ starting secondary off the field last week against the New England Patriots might actually be a positive.

Keenan Lewis is sure of it.

Now that Lewis, Kenny Vaccaro and Delvin Breaux are back to full speed, and Brandon Browner appears to be on his way back soon, the Saints’ starting secondary is headed in the right direction health-wise, but a week with all five out could help the Saints down the line.

“It’s a great opportunity for some of the young guys to get that experience,” Lewis said. “Last year, a couple of guys went down and there were new people in, and they really didn’t know how to adjust. So to see them go against quality opponents like Brady and those guys definitely helps them get ready.”

The injury bug hit the Saints’ secondary hard in 2014, and when players like Jairus Byrd, Rafael Bush and Kenny Vaccaro went down, some of the replacements had trouble adjusting.

But on Saturday, several of the guys who will make up the Saints’ second line of defense got a full half of work against Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo. Young cornerbacks like Stanley Jean-Baptiste and Damian Swann were thrown into the fire.

“You’re seeing Stanley get more work, you’re seeing Swann get more work. … you’re seeing a lot of those guys competing for playing time get more reps,” Saints coach Sean Payton said. “Now, all of a sudden, Keenan’s back, and there’ll be a handful of these guys that are gradually working their way back into the lineup.”

The flip side, obviously, is whether or not the time away will hurt the Saints’ starting four, plus Breaux, when Byrd makes his eventual return.

Lewis, who said the injury that kept him out of Saturday’s game was minor and wouldn’t have kept him out during the regular season,  isn’t worried.

“No, I think our top five has been playing in the league for a long time, so they know how to adjust, they know how to prepare, they know how to get ready for a big game,” Lewis said.