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C.J. Gardner-Johnson starts off training camp hot

Teammates and analysts observe improvements in the DB’s coverage and leadership.

Green Bay Packers v New Orleans Saints Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images

Ceedy Duce is a menace, in all of the right ways.

The 24-year-old is about to enter the final year of his rookie contract. The Florida Gator has quickly emerged as a key piece of the New Orleans Saints’ secondary, which has picked up even more talent this offseason.

The Saints started training camp on Thursday, July 28. Though only three days’ worth of practice have taken place, several players have begun to show off their refined skills. Gardner-Johnson appears to be one of them.

On Saturday’s practice, he intercepted Jameis Winston’s very first pass of the day.

The pass was a short quick-out route intended for Deonte Harty. Gardner-Johnson made a quick read on the pass and intercepted the ball for what would have been a pick-six.

Duce’s initial role with the team was expected to be more of a hard-hitting safety that has the ability to apply tight coverage to larger targets. In the 2021 season, the DB appeared to make a leap in his coverage ability, recording his career high in interceptions (3) while only playing in 12 out of 17 games.

In the first few days of training camp, several signs point to C.J. attempting to take on a bigger leadership role on the team. Not only was the DB seen encouraging younger players, new face Jarvis Landry made some interesting comments about his charismatic leadership.

Landry was known for his leadership abilities during his time with the Cleveland Browns, which was captured during a 2018 episode of HBO’s “Hard Knocks.” Notice how Landry stressed the element of weakness being “contagious” in the same way that he sees Gardner-Johnson’s positive attitude is also contagious.


Landry also commented on the ability that Duce has to mentally dominate his opponents. Even Landry’s mother warned her son about him.

The Saints resume training camp today in preparation for the 2022 season. Though C.J. left practice early on Saturday, he appears to be 100% healthy and ready to compete for the remainder of training camp.

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