You may not believe this but my off-season cautious optimism just took a big shot in the arm today and has now dropped all the way down to just slightly optimistic. Baby steps here people. Truth be told, it didn't really matter what happened out there on the field today I was just glad to see some Saints football. Any Who Dat would have been excited.
But seriously folks, there was a lot to be happy about yesterday afternoon and it was for obvious reasons. I'm about to say something you've been hearing quite a lot this off-season but that doesn't make it any less true: this defense is different. And it's a good different.
I know, I know. I sound like a broken mainstream media record but it's true. Probably the most interesting observation of the day was what I saw from the guys wearing black. They showed a few different looks, one or two of which had Shanle and sometimes Fujita up at the line and Vilma dropping back into coverage. Not surprising given what we learned about Gregg Williams and his schemes. The defense was also employing some unique blitz packages utilizing cornerbacks and safeties, one of which led to what would have surely been a Joey Harrington sack by a DB (maybe Chris Reis). Pretty complex stuff for minicamp! The stench of Gary Gibbs is definitely long gone.
Something else I wasn't used to seeing from the Saints defense that impressed me was their seeming ability to better get in position. More than once was a defender - Roman Harper is coming to mind - in the right place at the right time and ready to snuff out the play or end it quickly with a well-timed hit. Some of those offensive guys are lucky yesterday's practice was no contact. It's that last point, however, that brings me back to reality. These guys were just wearing shorts so I take everything yesterday with a grain of salt. Finishing the play is a whole other issue but it's great to see that everything appears to at least be on the right track.
So what's the bottom line? This years defense will certainly be more exciting and fun to watch so get ready. But better? Still too early to tell.
You know I like to roll bullet-style so why change a good thing. Here are the rest of my notes:
- I was surprised to see so many people in attendance especially given it was the middle of a weekday. All seats were filled and latecomers had to stand. Getting their early was definitely wise.
- I'm not sure why but I was surprised to see food (and alcohol), merchandise and solicitation tents lined up for business. It was like a miniature outdoor version of the Superdome concourse.
- Notice you didn't hear any of the traditional "I can't believe how hot it is" cliches from the media and players. The weather was perfect. Just perfect.
- Meachem drew the first reaction from the crowd when he dropped an easy pass in the wide open flat. There were grumblings.
- One thing we can't see during these no-pads practices is tackling. Still no idea whether or not these ankle biters have improved in the weak tackling department.
- Shockey looked pretty good out there. A leaping catch over the middle followed by a tuck and roll drew applause from the crowd. A lot of people in the audience were discussing "Dehydrationgate."
- Not much to see from Colston or Moore yesterday.
- There was a quick little scrap following a play during offense vs. defense work. Couldn't tell who it was.
- I think it's a bit hard to really tell how well the running backs looked. They may be breaking through the line but with no tackling it's too far from actual game situations.
- The cornerback mix was interesting. Gay and Greer were getting reps with the first team today. Greer I understand but Gay I don't. Tracy Porter and Leigh Torrence were with the second team. Jason David the third team. Don't forget that Malcolm Jenkins will be added to the mix as well. Very cool.
- Garrett Hartley only saw a minute or so of action but he was perfect every time.
- Colston and Henderson botched the exchange on a double reverse that illicited a reaction from the crowd. Other than that play Henderson caught everything else thrown his way.
- Colston is a tall dude. Fujita is a big dude. Jason David...not so much.
- Apparently injuries are still something Saints fans need to worry about. I didn't see it but Dan Morgan left early with with a calf injury and Dan Campbell missed practice with a knee injury.
Sorry to say I have to work tomorrow so I won't be able to make it out there for round two. To make up for it, I have included the rest of my pictures from yesterday's minicamp after the jump. Enjoy, then discuss. You must discuss.
I guess you would call this a fieldhouse? Maybe?
Always a merch tent.
Even more crowd.
Roster handout. Alphabetically on one side, numerically on the other. In case you were wondering.
Food and beer. They think of everything!
The eye in the sky. Seriously, that thing was up there.
One on one.
Not sure. I think Devery Henderson.
A light jog.
Now offense stretch.
Reggie Bush and Heath Evans.
Meachem missing a diving catch.
Hartley like it's his job. Oh wait.
The boss man making sure everyone is having a good time.
The receiving corp.
Rita gave me a closeup.
Jeremy Shockey was a real jokester the whole time.