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New Orleans Saints: Mini-Camp Observations

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The Saints are half-way through their first three day mini-camp, one in a series to tune up for full on training camp in late July.

Mini-camp marks the first mandatory team event this off-season for the raining Super Bowl champs with everyone in attendance minus running back Pierre Thomas and left tackle Jammal Brown

Brown so far has skipped every single voluntary workout this off-season in hopes of a new deal so its no surprise he was not in attendance, but Thomas’ absence was a little more of a surprise as it makes it clear he may be ready to hold out long term.

Both players want new deals but the likely candidate to receive one at this point is Thomas even with it rumored he wants whopping Steven Jackson type money.

For now the team is prepared to move on without either player.

Rookies Jimmy Graham and Patrick Robinson continue to impress coaches and media alike with their solid play. Graham literally catches everything in his vicinity continually out running defenders down field while Robinson climbs the depth chart with solid coverage skills.

Now on to the best mini-camp observations I found courtesy of Deke Bellavia of WWL news.

"The Black & Gold were back on the field this morning at their facility on Airline Drive for the second day of Mini Camp 2010.  It was the Saints’ third practice of Mini Camp, but it marked the first time the Who Dat Nation got a glimpse at their beloved Saints.“Man it sure felt good to see my team,” said Big Henry and Big Eric, two proud members of the Who Dat Nation who’ve become well known to fans over the last few seasons.  “We have been watching all the games from last season and the championship DVD’s to get us through the off-season, but there is nothing like seeing our boys in person.”The Saints worked for a little over two hours in front of a big crowd.  The team will wrap up the day with an afternoon practice, before one final practice Sunday morning.  Sunday’s practice is open to the public (weather permitting) with gates opening at 9:15am.Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins did not work out with the team this morning.  Jenkins banged his knee against a teammate yesterday and is not expected to practice this afternoon as well. “I thought that Jimmy Graham once again looked good out there.  He ran a seam route and Drew put the ball on the money,” said Saints Color Analyst Hokie Gajan.  “He has a lot of things to learn, but you can tell he has all the tools to be a very good player in this league.”Graham hauled in a pass from Drew Brees and then just turned on his speed and outran the Saints defensive secondary on his way to the end zone, drawing cheers from the fans.  “Two out of the three practices…I would have to give the edge to the defense,” said Bobby Hebert.  “The defense batted down five balls so far and that’s something that you can tell Coach Williams is putting an emphasis on.”  New Saints DE Alex Brown looked good as he batted down five passes in the morning practice.Marques Colston made a great catch over Jabari Greer.  The coverage was good by Greer, but Colston just made a good play on the ball on the pass from Drew Brees.  Saints FB Heath Evans caught a twenty-yard pass from Drew too.Roman Harper came up with an interception off a tipped ball, and DE Jeff Charleston posted a sack.  The Saints safeties dominated the drill against the Saints tight ends.  Harper was solid in the drill, and second year player Chip Vaughn was impressive.Chris Reis and Pierson Prioleau came up with nice plays in the drill, but some of the solid plays were also due to the QB’s.  “The safeties did look good, but some of that has to be credited to who was throwing the ball,” said Saints color analyst Hokie Gajan.Gajan thought Greg Paulus and seventh round pick Sean Canfield struggled this morning.  And, on special teams Punter Thomas Morestead looked to be in mid season form.  Morestead got off some booming punts against a cross wind during special teams work.  “Thomas had the best practice by far this morning,” said Hokie Gajan.  “A couple of those punts would have been for at least seventy-yards.”On the final play of practice the Saints offense seemingly did not appreciate the play of Safety Usama Young.  Reggie hauled in a reception from Drew Brees for a nice gain and then Young came over and close lined Bush.  Bush popped up off the ground after the questionable hit by Usama Young and then ran down field.  Reggie’s offensive teammates didn’t like the way Young tackled Bush and gave him a few words."

And of the afternoon practice which was held indoors and closed to the public….

"The New Orleans Saints practiced for less than two hours in their indoor facility wrapping up day two of Mini Camp 2010.  The Saints have one more Mini Camp practice Sunday morning, 10:15am.  The practice is open to the public (weather permitting) and the gates to the practice field will open at 9:15am. Drew Brees had his best practice of the Mini Camp this afternoon.  In team drills Brees completed passes to Jeremy Shockey, Marques Coltson and Courtney Roby.  Brees once again hooked up with rookie TE Jimmy Graham on a deep pass over the middle of the field.Back-up QB Chase Daniel also looked much better in the afternoon practice.  Daniel hit WR Matt Simon for a long TD reception.  He also completed a couple of passes to TE Jimmy Graham.  Rookie QB Sean Canfield completed a nice pass to TE Tory Humphrey for a nice gain. “For some reason Chase Daniel does better, when the Saints practice inside compared to outside,” said Bobby Hebert.  He’s shown some improvement, but he needs to be more consistent if he is going to have a chance to back-up Drew.”The defense showed good run support this afternoon.  The Black & Gold run defense was in the right place at the right time–drawing praise from Defensive Coordinator Greg Williams.  CB Leigh Torrence had an opportunity to pick off a pass , but dropped the football.Saints LB Jo-Lonn Dunbar also missed out on an interception; he dropped the football.  In the special teams department, Punter Thomas Morestead was holding the football for kicker Garrett Hartley on field goal attempts."

The Saints will wrap up the three-day camp with one more practice tomorrow morning at 10:15, that gates will open to the public at 9:15.

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