OTA Observations Week #2

Photo by Barry Hirstius, Big Easy Magazine

It might only be the end of May and nearly three more months until the start of the 2019 NFL season for the New Orleans Saints, but one thing that was clearly evident as the team wrapped up their 2nd week of OTA’s:  the Saints’ veteran players are already in mid-season form and appear to be “game ready.” They seem to be locked in with a laser-sharp focus on making another run at getting to the Super Bowl (54) next February.

Never was that more obvious in 7-on-7 and later on 11-on-11 team drills as when the Saints 1st team offense — led for the majority of snaps by QB Drew Brees — had a series of plays against the 1st team defense led by an extremely vocal veteran defensive end Cam Jordan. The drills were conducted at full speed and with none of the players holding anything back.


Among some of the highlights from the rather spirited session:

  • Linebacker Demario Davis stripping Josh Hill and forcing a fumble, after Hill had made a great catch in tight pass coverage
  • Former Ohio State University teammates WR Michael Thomas and CB Eli Apple having a very competitive one-on-one battle on the outside boundary (the far right sidelines); in which each of them made a big play against the other
  • Free Agent signee and new starting tight end Jared Cook making a magnificent sliding one-handed grab of a low pass thrown to him by Brees, where ONLY Cook could catch it — and while he was double-covered
  • Marshon Lattimore making PBU (pass break-up) after PBU for the most of the session

It goes without saying: the intensity of today’s practice was a bit unusual to see this early in the preparations for the upcoming season. Clearly, this team is honed in on the task at hand: to finish off the job that they were robbed of the opportunity to accomplish, thanks to the infamous “no-call” by NFL referees in the NFC Championship game loss to the Los Angeles Rams several months ago.

Make no mistake: this Saints team is on a mission to win it all — and based on the spirited exchanges that took place earlier today, it’s hard to imagine they won’t be one of the last teams standing once the playoffs arrive in January.


Players not practicing at Saints OTA’s today: RB Alvin Kamara, RG Larry Warford, WR Cam Meredith, Free Safety Chris Banjo, DT Sheldon Rankins, WR/KR Deonte Harris, WR Travin Dural and LB Chase Hansen.


Photo Credit: Barry Hirstius, Big Easy Magazine
Photo Credit: Barry Hirstius, Big Easy Magazine

Rookie center and top 2019 Saints draft pick Erik McCoy appeared to get a majority of the snaps at today’s session, with recent Free Agent signee Nick Easton getting the rest. At this point, it’s hard to believe that McCoy won’t be a “plug and play” immediate starter at the Center position in his very first NFL season. He really and truly is that good — and it shows every time he steps onto the field.


Undrafted WR (and former LSU All-American Track & Field star and National Champion)Cyril Grayson, Jr. continues his impressive showing, as he beat more than a few DBs in coverage on several deep-ball passing plays. If he continues this level of performance into Training Camp and the preseason, it will be very hard for the coaching staff to not at least keep him on the practice squad. The young man has elite-caliber speed and if he can master route-running, he has all the potential in the world to emerge as a special player later on down the line.


The Saints Special Teams worked on their “fake” field goal packages, and the most interesting aspect was kicker Wil Lutz running a pattern out wide as a receiver; each time he was only a decoy as holder Thomas Morstead threw TD passes to TE Josh Hill on one play, and to TE Garrett Griffin on another. Don’t be shocked if the Saints eventually use this bit of “trickeration” (as legendary NFL head coach John Madden used to always say) a time or two, once the situation calls for it during the regular season.


The Saints have one more weekly session of OTA’s remaining (next Tuesday thru Thursday, June 4th to the 6th), and then will conduct their annual Mini-Camp the following week on Tuesday, June 11th, thru Thursday, June 13th.

After that, the entire Saints organization will go on their month-long Summer Vacation (mid-June thru mid-July), before everyone returns for the start of Training Camp in the last week of July (official dates will be released within the next few weeks in advance of the start of Training Camp).

Barry Hirstius is a semi-retired journalist, who has worked as a sports editor and columnist. Barry is a New Orleans native who grew up as a fan of the Saints while attending games as a young boy at the old Tulane Stadium. He is the proud Grandfather of two beautiful young girls, Jasmine and Serenity.

Help Keep Big Easy Magazine Alive

Hey guys!

Covid-19 is challenging the way we conduct business. As small businesses suffer economic losses, they aren’t able to spend money advertising.

Please donate today to help us sustain local independent journalism and allow us to continue to offer subscription-free coverage of progressive issues.

Thank you,
Scott Ploof
Big Easy Magazine

Share this Article

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *