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Observations From Saints Camp, Day 2

The weather held up nicely Saturday and the Saints were able to get a couple of good practices in. Here are some thoughts and observations from Saturday’s practices.

– The Saints defense is installing a 3-4 defensive look. Remi Ayodele and Sedrick Ellis played the all important nose tackle. Bobby McCray played OLB in the 3-4 instead of his usual DE spot. Anthony Hargrove and Ellis played a little out of position at times at DE.
A 3-4 makes sense for the Saints in pass rushing situations. It will allow players like McCray and Will Smith to use their speed to get to the QB in Gregg William’s blitz-happy scheme.
Expect the Saints to use the 3-4 more than usual next season, but not to make it their base formation. Yes, they did use the 3-4 in spots last year and had some success with it (i.e. Miami and New England).

– The biggest position battle in camp thus far is for Scott Fujita’s vacated spot at SLB. Troy Evans is taking the majority of the snaps with the first unit, sharing time with Jo-Lonn Dunbar.
But, don’t pencil either player in as a starter just yet. Don’t forget recent signee Clint Ingram and Stanley Arnoux are coming off of injuries and should be ready to compete for the spot as well come training camp. Don’t forget about Jonathan Casillas either. The battle for the starting spot should drag well into camp.

– Malcolm Jenkins has been doing well at Darren Sharper’s safety spot. Sharper is still recovering from off season microfracture surgery, but is expected to be back for camp.
Jenkins did not practice Saturday, but is ok. He bumped knees with another player Friday and is just bruised.

– The Saints are happy to have FB Heath Evans back on the practice field after an ACL tear sidelined him most of last season. Evans was an effective blocker and excellent receiver out of the backfield last season for the Saints. His return adds another dimension to an already dangerous Saints offense.

– Rookie TE Jimmy Graham has continued to impress at Saints camp. His TD pass on a seam route was a highlight of Saturday’s morning session.
Although still raw skills-wise at TE, he has shown great athletic ability and should develop nicely behind Jeremy Shockey and David Thomas.

– Jeremy Shockey and Devery Henderson were limited in practice. Rookie OT Charles Brown participated despite still recovering from a hamstring injury suffered before the draft.

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