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Training Camp Practice #8 (August 3rd): Alex Okafor Brings the Heat for the Saints Pass Rush, But What’s Wrong With Wil Lutz?

The New Orleans Saints just completed their 8th Practice of their 2018 Training Camp a short while ago; and as was the case earlier in the week, it was affected by the downpour of intermittent periods of rain.

However, two players stood out for the Saints on this day, though for much different reasons: 6th year defensive end Alex Okafor and 3rd year place-kicker Wil Lutz.

As reported by ESPN beat writer Mike Triplett: on one particular series of plays during team drills, Okafor managed to generate 3 straight "pressures" in a row while rushing the QB from his right defensive end position — and would have gotten at least one sack and one forced holding penalty in the process.

As Triplett noted: it's a huge advantage for the Saints defense as they get closer to the beginning of the upcoming 2018 NFL season, for them to see Okafor looking so healthy this early in Camp.

Okafor is still technically recovering from a torn Achilles tendon, although today's Practice would seem to indicate that Okafor is more than ready to begin the season at full strength when the Saints open the regular season at the Superdome against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on September 9th.

Unfortunately, not every one appears to be ready for the season to start.

As noted by New Orleans Times-Picayune columnist Larry Holder: 3rd year kicker Wil Lutz's "struggles" continue in Camp, although to be completely fair: Lutz was kicking in the wind and the rain that was falling on the field at that time.

(Photo by Michael DeMocker, | The Times-Picayune)

Lutz went 1-for-5 on his field goal attempts (4 missed kicks) — and has missed a total of 6 kicks in as many recent practices.

As we noted earlier in the week here at Saints News Network: 

Lutz doesn't have any competition in Camp this year, and truth be told: maybe he needs some. Lutz seems to THRIVE under pressure, and it may be the reason why he hasn't exactly been "dead-solid perfect" as he had been in the past year.

Is Lutz in any danger of LOSING his job? That's unlikely (at least for now, anyway).

But for his sake as well as the team and its passionate fans, let's all hope that he gets the "kinks" worked out and regains his consistency here in the upcoming Pre-Season games. Otherwise, it could end up costing them big-time at some point further down the line (like a missed "chip shot" field goal in a Playoff game).



(Photo by David Grunfeld, | The Times-Picayune)

Undrafted wide receiver-turned-tight end Dan Arnold continues his impressive Camp thus far. Arnold notched 2 more TD receptions to his credit, catching both scores in red zone drills....

Not practicing again today: TE Ben Watson (3rd straight missed practice), WR Cam Meredith (2nd straight missed practice), RB Shane Vereen (3rd straight missed practice), rookie CB Kamrin Moore (4th straight missed practice), and rookie defensive end / top draft pick Marcus Davenport (3rd straight missed practice).

Also not participating: WR Ted Ginn, Jr., TE Garrett Griffin, and OG John Fullington.

Additionally: both back-up TE Micheal Hoomanawanui and back-up offensive tackle Jermon Bushrod left practice early with undisclosed injuries, and were assisted to the locker room by trainers.

The Saints resume Practice tomorrow (open to the General Public weather permitting), and then on Sunday will hold the annual Miller Lite Fan Fest Saints Training Camp practice presented by Verizon at Tulane University’s Yulman Stadium.

The Miller Lite Fan Fest will take place on Brown Field, located just outside of the Reily Center on Sunday from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. There will be live music provided by the Bucktown All-Stars as well as appearances from team mascots "Gumbo" and "Sir Saint".

During the event, there will be fan activities with food and drink available for purchase. The Miller Lite Fan Fest is open to the public and is a free event. The gates to Yulman Stadium will open at 6 p.m. The practice is scheduled to run from approximately 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. followed by a brief player autograph session.

This will be the final Saints practice open to the public prior to the team departing for Jacksonville for their preseason opener at the Jaguars on Thursday, Aug. 9th. Open practices will resume on Saturday, Aug. 11th at the Ochsner Sports Performance Center located on Airline Drive in Metairie.


Big Easy Magazine contributing writer and Saints News Network columnist Barry Hirstius is a 51-year old semi-retired journalist, former New Orleans-area sports editor, and writer previously with several sites that exclusively cover the New Orleans Saints football team. Additionally, he is a recurring guest on a variety of local Sports Talk Radio programs. Barry is also a New Orleans native who grew up as a fan of the team while attending games as a young boy at the old Tulane Stadium in the early 1970’s, originally following and now covering the team for a span of over 40 plus years. And perhaps most importantly of all: he is the Grandfather of two beautiful young girls, Jasmine and Serenity.....

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