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.
Three pressures in a row from Saints DE Alex Okafor in full-team drills — at least one sack and one forced holding penalty. Huge for the Saints to see him looking so healthy this early in camp.
— Mike Triplett (@MikeTriplett) August 3, 2018
Alex Okafor with a sack and Marcus Williams with the breakup for good measure pic.twitter.com/ryNxQ9emUR
— Amos Morale III (@Amos_MoraleIII) August 3, 2018
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.
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.
In the rain and the wind, Wil Lutz went 1-5 on field goal attempts. Whoa!
— Larry Holder (@LarryHolder) August 3, 2018
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.
Good line by Saints K Wil Lutz when asked if it’s a confidence boost to be trusted as the only kicker in camp: “Yeah, it’s great. But I think we all remember how I got here.” (Lutz was a surprise signing during Week 1 in 2016 after being released by the Ravens.)
— Mike Triplett (@MikeTriplett) July 30, 2018
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).
OTHER NEWS AND NOTES:
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.