New Orleans wide receiver Brandon Tate hauls in a pass during training camp being held in Metairie. Tate was signed by the Saints recently to compete for a spot on the roster as a receiver and possibly a return man. (Photo courtesy of The Advocate)
NEW ORLEANS -- Thursday afternoon marked day eight of training camp for the New Orleans Saints and things are starting to become more and more clearer for the Louisiana NFL team, as they prepare for their first pre-season game against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday.
As training camp moves forward, head coach Sean Payton and the New Orleans coaching staff are looking to find those guys that will take them back to the promised land. One of the big questions coming into this fall was who would be the No. 2 quarterback behind future Hall of Famer Drew Brees.
Despite the fact that Brees has avoided any major injury since suffering the now infamous shoulder injury while with the San Diego Chargers, the Saints know there has to be a plan in place just in case the perennial All-Pro goes down.
With veteran Tom Savage now on board, it seems that New Orleans now has a guy that can step in and do a decent job if anything would happen to Brees. Savage has spent five seasons in the NFL, all with the Houston Texans.
Savage knows that having Brees as a mentor may be just what the doctor ordered for his career.
“You’d be dumb not to follow what Drew Brees is doing,” Savage said. “I don’t want to get to the point where I’m annoying him, but I’m just going to keep following him and continue to do what he does. I don’t think it’s a challenge when you have Drew Brees in front of you. You follow what he does and try to mimic that.”
Second year quarterback Taysom Hill is still trying to negotiate his way through the NFL process. Hill, a special teams stalwart the last two seasons, sees being a quarterback in the league all about timing.
“I think everything in the quarterback position is all timing,” Hill said. “I’m constantly trying to get on the same page with my receivers; they’re trying to get on the same page as us. I think the easiest way to do that is just make sure everything lines up with what Drew does. Drew has the timing that we’re going to match everything to how he functions inside this offense.”
In fact, the Saints spent some time working on read-option runs in Thursday’s practice. Not only did this give the defense a different look, but coach Sean Payton also explained afterward the offense would veer more toward doing these type of things if Taysom Hill has to enter a game.
Another big question came into play as training camp moved forward: Who is Brees going to throw the ball to?
That question became even bigger when several players at that position went down with injuries, including former LSU wide receiver Travin Dural. The Saints decided to bring in veterans Brandon Tate and Michael Floyd to give them some depth to look at over the next few weeks.
Of course, New Orleans still has one of the best receivers around in Michael Thomas. The fourth year pro looks as ready as he ever has for the upcoming season. Thomas caught 104 passes for 1,245 yards and five touchdowns last year.
Along with Thomas, returners Ted Ginn, Jr. and Tommy Lee Lewis offer some good targets for Brees. Ginn, Jr. hauled in 53 passes for 787 yards and four touchdowns in 2017.
Probably the most surprising addition to the roster in that position is Tre’Quan Smith. The rookie from Central Florida is impressing the Saint’s coaching staff.
“He’s making some good plays, and then all of a sudden, he’s having a few plays he has to correct,” Payton said.