Rain and thunder ended the early portion of Day #2 of the Saints 2019 Training Camp a short while ago, and forced the team to finish Practice in their Indoor Training Facility.
But without a doubt, several players made impressions for the Black and Gold, and perhaps none more noteworthy than veteran RB Latavius Murray — who for a 2nd straight day looks to be more than a suitable "replacement" for Saints former RB Mark Ingram, who left the organization in Free Agency this past off-season to play for the Baltimore Ravens.
Some Saints fans have been skeptical about Murray since the team signed him in Free Agency after he spent the last two seasons battling both inconsistent production as well as a series of nagging injuries, and ultimately lost the Minnesota Vikings #1 RB role to Dalvin Cook.
As a result: Minnesota deicided not to re-new his 3rd year team option, making him an unrestricted Free Agent. Last season Murray, the 6-foot-3, 230 pound "bruiser", carried the ball 140 times for 578 yards and 6 touchdowns in 2018 with the Vikings.
In his 6-year NFL career first with the Oakland Raiders (who drafted him originally in 2013) , Murray has carried the ball 899 times for 3,698 yards and 34 TD's.
But he has looked phenomenal thus far in Camp, running with power and authority.
— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) July 27, 2019
And undoubtedly: that was something that Saints head coach Sean Payton found gratifying as he shared his thoughts with the local media after Practice had ended.
"It's important to have depth at the position. We really like what we saw and we have a vision for what we think he does well. Is one player exactly taking Mark Ingram reps? I can't tell you that right now", Payton said to reporters.
#Saints HC Sean Payton on Latavius Murray "It's important to have depth at the position. We really like what we saw and we have a vision for what we think he does well. Is one player exactly taking Mark Ingram reps? I can't tell you that right now."
— Deuce Windham (@RevDeuceWindham) July 27, 2019
Murray was far from being alone with his notable performance, and here are a few other observations from Day #2..,.
OTHER NOTABLE PERFORMANCES INCLUDING THE "HIGHLIGHT OF THE DAY"
— Garland Gillen (@garlandgillen) July 27, 2019
Rookie safety Saquon Hampton had a strong showing, with a series of PBU's (pass break-ups) that should have been interceptions were he able to hang on to the football.
2nd year wide receiver Keith Kirkwood was catching everything that was thrown his way, and looks to be securing his spot on the Saints roster as the #4 WR (which isn't the greatest of news for fellow WR Cam Meredith, whose job could be in serious jeopardy at the moment).
— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) July 27, 2019
Rookie tight end Alizé Mack made several nice catches in team drills (most of them from QB Taysom Hill) and at this point already seems to be virtually guaranteed of earning the #3 TE role.
But the "highlight" of the day belonged to undrafted fee agent WR Cyril Grayson, Jr.. who had the wherewithal to sprint past the entire Saints secondary during 1st team reps, to haul in a deep throw by QB Drew Brees; which drew a huge response from onlookers.
Former LSU track star Cyril Grayson made an impressive catch deep downfield from Drew Brees in team drills. Grayson has turned heads with his speed, but mostly on special teams and end-arounds with backups. This was a notable highlight with the 1s. An intriguing dark horse ...
— Mike Triplett (@MikeTriplett) July 27, 2019
Grayson is considered a "long shot" to make the Final Roster at the end of next month, but as a former Track and Field star at LSU, it's his world-class speed that could help separate him from other WR's trying to make the Saints roster.
At this point, he's a lock to make the Practice Squad, and earning the final spot on the Final 53-man roster isn't out of the question.
THE PADS COME ON TOMORROW
One thing for Who Dats to look forward to: the Saints will be wearing pads at tomorrow morning's Practice; the first time they will be dressed out in their full gear since their heart-breaking NFC Championship Game loss to the Los Angeles Rams.
Up until now, the Saints have been working out, training and practicing for the past 3 months in preparation for the upcoming 2019 season, in t-shirts and shorts; or what's commonly referred to as "shells".
Since they've last been in pads on that unforgettable late January afternoon at the Superdome, many of those same players can't wait for this moment to finally arrive tomorrow morning; as they look for the opportunity to write a much different ending to this upcoming season than the heart-breaking finish that was written last year.
Practicing in full pads will give the Saints coaching staff a better chance to see just how far along some of the younger players are in their development, while also ensuring that the older veterans are in shape and are also not experiencing any notable "drop off" in performance that could hurt the team's overall play in actual game situations.
Also, with live contact now finally being allowed for the first time since this new (and hopefully even better) 2019 version of the team has gone into full Training Camp mode, it will also allow both the coaching staff and the general public attendance to see which of the players are bringing their "A Game" to the table.
For a lack of a better term: the team will be going "mano a mano" for the first time in 2019.
Or to borrow a tried and true phrase often associated with this time of year: "it's time to separate the men from the boys"....