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Saints Training Camp Practice #10 (Tulane Yulman Stadium): Saints Defense Shines Under the Bright Lights

Throughout the first 10 practices of the 2018 New Orleans Saints Training Camp, the team's defense has stood out on several occasions thus far; but perhaps at no one time has the unit been as impressive they were during last night's Summer practice under the "bright lights" of Tulane University's Yulman Stadium.

The Saints just might want to consider turning this into an annual event (perhaps even a full-blown regular Uptown New Orleans tradition at this time every year) as nearly 9,000 fans turned out this time and were treated to another spectacular performance by the team's defensive unit — led by (who else?) 2nd year safety Marcus Williams.

Williams has had a phenomenal Camp thus far, and it's become BLATANTLY OBVIOUS that the soon-to-be 22 year old is DRIVEN to succeed after his well-publicized missed tackle in the heart-breaking NFC Divisional Playoff loss to Minnesota.

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

And after he had just intercepted future Hall of Famer and Saints starting QB Drew Brees on an end zone pass during the team's practice indoors on Saturday Morning, Williams came back and did the same thing to Brees yet again in front of the several thousand fans in attendance on a deep pass intended for rookie WR Tre’Quan Smith.

However, Williams wasn't alone in his efforts.

The "highlight of the night" under the bright lights of Yulman Stadium actually belonged to 4th year cornerback P.J. Williams, who also intercepted Brees after he picked off a pass intended for RB Alvin Kamara and "took it all the way back to the house" for a Pick-6 TD.

But it wasn't just the Saints secondary that stood out.

The Saints D-Line had a solid night, with Cam Jordan and Alex Okafor bringing consistent pressure off of the outside edge, while DT's Sheldon Rankins and David Onyemata continually generated heat from the interior of the line.

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

Additionally, the Saints linebacker corps continues to show how much faster they've become with the free-agent signing of middle linebacker Demario Davis this past off-season; and Davis had a "highlight moment" of his very own when he stayed STEP-FOR-STEP with former wide receiver-turned-tight end Dan Arnold in pass coverage.

Covering RB's and TE's out of the backfield was just one big part of the reasons why the Saints defensive unit had struggled in previous seasons (2014 through 2016 in particular); but it's become evident through this first portion of Camp, that Davis just by himself has given the Saints a huge upgrade in that area,

Not to be outdone: fellow LB Alex Anzalone, who also flashed his own impressive speed in pass coverage when he broke up a screen pass that was intended for Kamara. Anzalone has stood out thus far in Camp as well, and it's a great sign that the Saints LB corps may be as strong as it's been from top to bottom, in quite some time.



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

"With an evening practice, you seem to get a little bit more energy," head coach Sean Payton told reporters after practice at Yulman had ended.

And he wasn't kidding, either.

There were several more Saints who performed well under the "bright lights", and made the night memorable for those fans who came out for the night's worth of fun and entertainment.

Rookie RB Boston Scott drew the biggest applause of the night from adoring fans on several carries where the 5-foot-7 Baton Rouge native got to flash his notable speed, particularly on one carry where he took a pitch from Brees out to the right side of the line of scrimmage, and then quickly BURST up-field and took it all the way for a would be score.

Make no mistake about it: Saints head coach Sean Payton has become intrigued by the diminutive but deceptive young rookie and the talent that he brings to the table; and don't be shocked later this year when you see Scott inserted into the line-up to create some headaches for opposing defenses (like having to cover both Scott and Kamara on the same play).

Other nice performances besides Boston Scott: TE Dan Arnold (who Payton compared to former Dallas Cowboys TE Jay Novacek in the post-practice press conference) and rookie center / guard Will Clapp, who continues to impress the offensive coaching staff with his ability to play multiple positions along the Saints O-Line.



Photo courtesy of Michael C. Hebert

For the 5th straight day, rookie defensive end Marcus Davenport did not practice with the team; and until the organization finally decides to address Davenport's status, the speculation will continue to grow wildly especially among those watching from afar, in the National Media.

Whatever the case might be, hopefully it's nothing serious — and simply just a stage of the young man's development.

Other players missing practice under the "bright lights": LB Manti Te’o, WR Austin Carr, TE Benjamin Watson (also his 5th straight missed practice) , WR Cameron Meredith, TE Michael Hoomanawanui, S Kamrin Moore, C Cameron Tom, G Larry Warford and CB J.T. Gray.

The Saints return to Practice Monday Morning, but the session is closed to the General Public.

The team is then off of practice Tuesday, and will have a "walk-through" practice Wednesday Morning before flying over to the Florida Atlantic coast to face the Jacksonville Jaguars at TIAA Bank Field on Thursday Night, in the 1st game of the 2018 Pre-Season......


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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