Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

SAINTS AT THE GREENBRIER ; Positives, Negatives Emerge from Saints Scrimmage

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

SAINTS AT THE GREENBRIER ; Positives, Negatives Emerge from Saints Scrimmage

Article excerpt

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS - Friday's team scrimmage at The Greenbrier went a lot like last year's 7-9 campaign for the New Orleans Saints - there was plenty of bad to go with the good. But this time around, the Saints have a few weeks to work out the kinks as the team will have an off day today before three more days of practice here leading up to their preseason opener Thursday at Baltimore.

Big plays and cheers were sandwiched around penalties and tirades from defensive coordinator Rob Ryan on Friday. About as much could be expected from a team's first scrimmage on any level.

"I told players afterwards, like every first scrimmage there's going to be some things we put on the tape we're positive about and obviously a lot of things we've got to clean up, Saints coach Sean Payton said. "We've got to be able to handle the substitutions better, that's one thing for sure. Those are detail things and those are things that will get corrected.

Those problems happened primarily on the defensive side of the ball, where the unit was caught multiple times with either too many or not enough men on the field.

Mental mistakes were what seemed to draw the most ire from Ryan and are what seemed to be the common response as to what needed the most work after the scrimmage concluded.

Cornerback Brandon Browner, who came over as a free agent from New England in the offseason, was part of a first-team defensive effort that only yielded one score on Friday.

While the starters, including newcomer Browner, made fewer mental errors than some of the unit's younger and more inexperienced counterparts, the six-year veteran has already taken a team stance in his new setting.

"That's us as a whole, Browner said of the miscues. "A lot of things are being called and we've got to get better at that, making things more clear on the sidelines. The young guys are hearing a lot of things so we've got to get clearer on our communication.

It was a quick, easy and successful day for quarterback Drew Brees, who led the first-team offense on a scoring drive to open the scrimmage, capping it with a touchdown pass to Marques Colston on a short fade route.

Brees hit on 5 of 6 passes on that opening drive against the second-team defense and was a spectator for the rest of the day as Ryan Griffin and Garrett Grayson took the majority of the remaining snaps at quarterback. Those two figure to be in a battle for the team's third quarterback spot.

As far as the team's 15-year veteran signal-caller was concerned, it was business as usual already.

"I feel good, I feel like I'm on track with the things that I wanted to accomplish in camp, Brees said. "All the things I focused on from an install standpoint - film study to mechanics to leadership elements with the team.

Brees lost arguably his most dependable weapon over the offseason as New Orleans traded tight end Jimmy Graham to the Seattle Seahawks along with a fourth-round draft pick for center Max Unger and a first-round pick. …

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