With the New Orleans Saints and Houston Texans preseason game at the end of the week, anticipation was high coming into Day 11 of Saints camp, another padded practice. While there were some positive moments throughout, they will be overshadowed by the big news around starting quarterback Jameis Winston. Winston left practice early and head coach Dennis Allen provided what he could as an update. That’s where we start our takeaways and practice notes from the first day of training camp Week 3.
Biggest story: Jameis Winston leaves early after injury
Allen provided some additional detail on his visit with NFL Network following the practice today, saying that Winston rolled his ankle, but later the team was clarified that the injury was a foot injury, not ankle. Winston was being examined after exiting so hopefully more information is on the horizon. Winston was very likely not going to participate in this weekend’s exhibition game against the Texans, so he should have time ahead of him to heal up.
Play of the day: Thomas hauls in a leaping catch against Paulson Adebo
During the 1-on-1 period, Thomas had a successful day, particularly with a catch on the right sideline near the endzone in which he skied over cornerback Paulson Adebo to make the catch. The battles between these two players have outstanding so far. Adebo has been strong this camp, any positive day today, and is being pushed by Thomas to get even better. This is another one of the big benefits to the All-Pro receiver’s return, he helps everyone around them take steps forward.
Michael Thomas status update: Still looking good
Thomas participated fully today including team drills. Quarterbacks were 4/5 when targeting him in 7-on-7s or 11-on-11s. He had another day throughout which he ended up on the ground a couple times. After the big jump ball against Adebo and a sliding catch in a two-minute drill simulation, he was able to get right back up and continue with no issues. All positive news as he continues to work his way back.
Health update: Marshon Lattimore and Taysom Hill spotted
Today was the first time we spotted Lattimore back since he left with an apparent leg injury last week. He and fellow cornerback Dylan Mabin worked off to the side the short while that practice was outside. The Saints signed veteran cornerback Jordan Brown, signaling that they were still looking for depth at the position, but the sighting of both Lattimore and Maybin is a positive one.
Hill was also back today, in a red jersey just like old times. However, not like old times, his jersey color was not indicative of his position, but instead of his recovery. Hill wore the non-contact jersey while still participating as a tight end, as expected. He worked with the team through routes on air before taking the light day the rest of the way.
UDFA wide receiver and kick returner Rashid Shaheed made his camp debut. He did not participate in any 7-on-7 or team drills however. The Weber State alum has an impressive resume as a returner and could provide some relief to fellow return specialist Deonte Harty during the preseason, if healthy.
New faces: Jordan Brown and Chase Hansen take the field
Brown is the newest addition to the cornerback room. With Lattimore and Maybin dealing with their injuries and C.J. Gardner-Johnson previously limiting his participation, adding to this rotation makes perfect sense. Brown has not yet played a regular season NFL snap, but could see some preseason reps in Houston this weekend.
A new face for this training camp, but a familiar one to most, Hansen is back in New Orleans. A former Saints UDFA signing, the Utah alum is the most recent addition to the linebacker rotation after the last reunion with Kiko Alonso was cut short. Hansen has valuable middle linebacker experience, a place the Saints are clearly trying to add options behind starter Demario Davis.
C.J. Gardner-Johnson's hold-in is over
At least for Monday. Gardner-Johnson was back participating with the team from walkthroughs all the way into team drills. The multi-faceted safety had a scare at one point, going down with a left leg injury. But after some time he was able to return to the field. Perhaps just a cramp or lock up, it was good to see No. 22 able to get back out there.
Previously Gardner-Johnson had been limiting his practice participation while negotiating a long-term deal. It looks like the decision to limit has come to an end. Seems any negotiations may still be ongoing, however.
Attendance: Still no Marcus Davenport
Players we did not see participate today:
CB Marshon Lattimore (sidework)
CB Dylan Mabin (sidework)
LB D’Marco Jackson
LB Zack Baun
DT Jaleel Johnson
DE Marcus Davenport
Additional practice notes: Defensive wins both 2-minute drill sessions
The Saints worked redzone again today during team drills, but wrapped up the day with two-minute drill simulations led by quarterbacks Andy Dalton and Ian Book. The defense forced a turnover on downs with a Bradley Roby pass breakup to end Dalton’s day and stalemated Book’s attempt when time ticked off the clock after an Eric Wilson sack. Two big wins for the New Orleans defense.
Safety Tyrann Mathieu was all over the defense today. Playing deep and away from the line of scrimmage as well as up against the line. He blitz, carried tight ends in coverage, and much more. Great to see all of the different ways Mathieu is being used.
Safety Daniel Sorenson hits hard and blitzes well. The veteran will be a special teams asset if he makes the roster in September, but has shown he had some fight in him on the defensive side as well.
Newly signed defenders got their numbers. Jordan Brown was wearing No. 38. Hansen, the Saints newest linebacker, sported No. 40.
Running back Alvin Kamara had an impressive sequence during Dalton’s run with the first team offense. He reeled in a one-handed snag headed to the left sideline resulting in some fun back and forth with Davis. He then capped off the period with a touchdown run up the middle. Vintage Kamara on the field today.
With Lattimore present but not participating, rookie cornerback Alontae Taylor saw his first snaps at first-team corner opposite Adebo.