Tyrann Mathieu returns to Saints training camp for Day 7

Day 7 of New Orleans Saints training camp was a day of big development for star players. As the team returned to shorts and shells, the participation of safety Tyrann Mathieu and wide receiver Michael Thomas were the highlights. But there were moments that would be considered lowlights as well as a scuffle leading to two players being removed from practice. Here are our key observations Wednesday’s Saints camp.

Biggest Story: Tyrann Mathieu returns

The three-time All-Pro safety missed the first week of Saints camp with an excused absence while tending to family issues. The steady work of social media sleuths found that Mathieu had made some adjustments to his social media profiles in the meantime, which stirred up questions and conversations about what might have been going on. As it seems to have turned out, it was nothing more than exactly what we were told.

Mathieu returned to the Saints practice facility on Wednesday. He participated in walk throughs, individual drills and position drills. Unsurprisingly, in his first day back he did not participate in 7-on-7s or full team drills, although it does not sound like it will take long before we see that become a part of his practice days.

Saints head coach Dennis Allen described Mathieu’s process as he returns to the team as being “a little bit of a ramp up.” But also added that it probably wouldn’t take long until things move forward to his full participation. There doesn’t seem to be any concern about what he has missed, which makes perfect sense considering Mathieu’s experience.

The other biggest story: Michael Thomas participates in 7-on-7s

If it wouldn’t have been for Mathieu returning, this would have easily been the big story from today’s camp. Thomas has taken what looks like the next step in his progression as he participated in 7-on-7 drills for the first time on Wednesday. Until then, Thomas had only been working in walk throughs, position drills and individual drills.

The All-Pro receiver caught all three targets that were thrown his way in 7-on-7s. Including two from quarterback Jameis Winston in the first pair of plays and another from backup signal caller Andy Dalton. Thomas continues to look crisp in his route running and now we get to see that he remains a physical presence at the catch point as well.

Play(s) of the day: 1-on-1s

We haven’t seen a lot of wide receiver vs. cornerback 1-on-1s so far in camp, but we got a long look at them today. Here are some of the matchup notes from some of the top performers. All passes in this drill were thrown by Winston.

Wide receivers:

  • Chris Olave. 2-1. Olave was held by cornerback Paulson Adebo after getting behind him in his first rep. The former Buckeye won his second rep against rookie Alontae Taylor with a fantastic breakdown before he cut back to the outside. Olave’s ability to create separation was in full display here. He lost his final rep against Adebo where no. 29 have fantastic, blanketing coverage.

  • Bryce Thompson. 2-2. The former Tennessee Volunteer showed his physicality throughout this drill. While he lost two, his two wins were because he was able to get his hands on the wideout at the line of scrimmage. Thompson is a violent jammer at the line. During a rep with wide receiver Easop Winston, Thompson forced the wideout to the ground with a violent hand-check and immediately won the rep. Safety CJ Gardner-Johnson was on the sideline hyping Thompson up after the win. Thompson was the only corner with more than one win.

  • Tre’Quan Smith. 2-1. Smith had wins against Demarcus Fields, who picked off a pass against Kevin White in the first 1-on-1 session days ago, and Taylor. Both of his wins were connected to his ability to get free over the middle of the field. A skill set that former Saints coach Sean Payton consistently praised.

  • Adebo, Taylor, and Bradley Roby each had wins including pass break ups by both Adebo and Roby.

New face: Tight end Chris Herndon present

One day after signing with the Saints, the 2018 draft pick was present and participating. He was also a part of team drills where he caught a pass from quarterback Ian Book down the right sideline. Interestingly, he was wearing no. 86 which was the number previously claimed by Brandon Dillon who was not present during today’s practice. That leads one to believe that Dillon is no longer a part of the roster, but time will tell.

Show me the money. CJ Gardner-Johnson awaits new contract

We haven’t seen a lot of participation from Gardner-Johnson over the last couple of practices when it comes to 7-on-7s and full team drills and now we can understand why. As Jeff Duncan of NOLA.com reported earlier this offseason, the slot corner has been working on a new contract.

Now, as those conversations continue, he’ll be adjusting his involvement in practices per New Orleans.football’s Nick Underhill. A decision that makes sense. Why risk injury while trying to lock in a long-term deal? Gardner-Johnson has still been an active part of the practice day participating in walk throughs and cheering his teammates on from the sidelines. No bad blood seems to factor in here.

Temperatures rise. Trevor Penning and Malcolm Roach get into it

For the third day in a row, Saints rookie offensive lineman Penning has found his way into another scuffle. Although this time, things progressed a bit further than anyone would have liked. Penning and Roach started going at it after what looked like a block that drove the defensive lineman, Roach, to the ground. Another player (not sure who) jumped in from the defense and then the whole team got involved trying to break things up.

Very soon after you could see Penning and Roach both leaving the indoor facility. Allen confirmed after practice that he sent both players in from the practice field because of the dust up. Allen also brought together all of the players remaining on the field after practice concluded with a unifying message and said he planned to speak with the two players he asked to leave later on. Really nice showing by Allen in terms of head coaching and leadership.

Attendance: A new no. 86:

Players we did not spot at today’s practice.

  • TE Taysom Hill

  • CB Dylan Mabin

  • S Smoke Monday:

  • TE Nick Krull

  • TE Brandon Dillon

  • WR/RS Rasheed Shaheed

  • EDGE: Marcus Davenport

  • EDGE Payton Turner

Mathieu’s return to the field headlines the day, of course. With the absences of Hill, Krull and Dillon, the tight end rotation is getting a little slim. Hence the addition of Herndon. Again, Herndon was present wearing Dillon’s number which could indicate a corresponding roster move.

Allen could not yet provide an update on Smoke Monday. It is believed that he suffered a “significant knee injury” according to reports. Hopefully a speedy recovery will come for the young safety who deserves a shot at the NFL.

It looked like wide receiver Jarvis Landry and cornerback Marshon Lattimore had light days. Offensive lineman Ryan Ramczyk continues his ramp up and progress as well as popping in and out of team drills.

1:

1:

Story originally appeared on Saints Wire

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.