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New Orleans Saints minicamp observations: Day 1

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An overview of what Day 1 at Saints minicamp looked like for Sean Payton’s group.

NFL: New Orleans Saints-Minicamp Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Saints kicked off their three-day mandatory minicamp on Tuesday. The threat of rain never developed, which allowed a large gathering of fans to see their team in action for the first time in 2017. Here’s some observations from Day 1.

Highlights

Travin Dural had a nice touchdown grab with Marshon Lattimore in coverage, while Coby Fleener had the play of the day in the 2-minute drill. Fleener had a seam route over the middle in which A.J. Klein defended well, however Fleener came out on top with a one-handed 25-yard touchdown catch.

Base Defense

The starters were anchored with Cameron Jordan, Sheldon Rankins, David Onyemata, and Alex Okafor on the defensive line. A.J. Klein and Craig Robertson were a familiar site as the team’s top two linebackers used, while Delvin Breaux and Ken Crawley took the majority of the first-team snaps at corner. The 3-safety set featured the usual suspects of Kenny Vaccaro, Vonn Bell, and Marcus Williams.

Linebacker Pairings

A.J. Klein looks like he’s the top dog at linebacker for the Saints (for now), he paired with Alex Anzalone to start 11-on-11 drills, then was paired with Stephone Anthony and Craig Robertson twice. The second group saw Nathan Stupar and Craig Robertson, and there was a three linebacker pairing used four out of 12 times (Adam Bighill-Nathan Stupar-Craig Robertson twice).

Drops

The Saints receivers had a bit of trouble on Tuesday. In normal catching drills, there were three drops on fairly easy passes. Coby Fleener dropped a Drew Brees pass over the middle in 7-on-7 drills, while John Phillips dropped one with Chase Daniel (I’d probably give more credit to Nathan Stupar for a pass break up), and Marcus Murphy dropped a Garrett Grayson pass on the right short side of the field. Vonn Bell and Craig Robertson both dropped sure picks.

Punt Returns

Ted Ginn received first dibs on initial punt return duties, with Tommylee Lewis, Alvin Kamara, and Marcus Murphy to follow. The second drills involving Thomas Morstead doing some punting out of his end zone and deep inside his own territory saw Kamara receive punts second to Ginn, and Murphy muffed one of his punt returns.

1-on-1 Drills

Jake Lampman and Tommylee Lewis both had touchdown grabs in receiver-secondary drills. Lewis ran a post route and hauled it in against Ken Crawley, while Lampman beat his receiver in stride. Here’s a complete list of the ones I charted, for those interested parties.

  • Ginn - Breaux (Incomplete - Deep Route)
  • Thomas - Moore (Incomplete - Back Shoulder)
  • Snead - Lattimore (Complete) Lattimore was pretty physical off the snap there in press coverage
  • Coleman - Harris (Incomplete - PBU)
  • Fuller - Swann (Complete - Deep Route)
  • Lampman - Maulet (Incomplete - PBU)
  • Lewis - Calhoun (Incomplete) Probably a holding penalty would have been called here
  • Williams-Lambert - Crawley (Incomplete - Post Corner End Zone)
  • Lawrence - Bell (Incomplete - PBU)
  • Dural - Butler (Incomplete - Deep Route) Dural beat him
  • J. Thomas - No. 33 (Incomplete - Deep End Zone)
  • Ginn - Moore (Incomplete - Inside Route, too high)
  • Thomas - Breaux (Complete - Inside Slant)
  • Snead - Harris (Complete - Inside Slant)
  • Coleman - M. Williams (Complete - Deep Over Shoulder)
  • Fuller - Maulet (Incomplete - PBU)
  • Lampman - No. 33 (Complete - Stop-N-Go Route)
  • Lewis - Crawley (Touchdown - Post)
  • Williams-Lambert - Lattimore (Incomplete - Inside Route) Lattimore was beat
  • Lawrence - Butler (Incomplete - Stop-N-Go-Route) Butler was beat
  • Thomas - Moore (Complete - Slant)
  • Snead - Bell (Complete - Fade)
  • J. Thomas - Harris (Incomplete - Thomas slipped)
  • J. Thomas - Maulet (Incomplete - Sideline)
  • Fuller - Swann (Incomplete - Deep)
  • Coleman - Crawley (Incomplete - PBU)
  • Dural - No. 33 (Incomplete - Deep)
  • Lampman - Butler (Touchdown)
  • Lewis - Breaux (Incomplete - PBU)
  • Williams-Lambert - Moore (Complete - Sideline)

Overall, the pace and tempo wasn’t too high on the first day. There was a lot of running plays, which is something you can’t really gauge because of the pads and contact. In 11-on-11 drills, Mark Ingram showed some real good cuts on his first carry. Alvin Kamara had a running play in which it looked like he was going down for a short gain, but maintained his balance to get more. Josh Hill was present for today’s session, but only observed.