New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton took another early step in trimming his roster down nearly a week before the first mandatory cut to 75 players Wednesday when tackle Jason Smith was released.
But the 6-foot-5, 310-pound Smith never threatened Brown, who finished the last two seasons on injured reserve, and quickly was demoted from the second team to third team just a few days into camp.
Armstead, one of the Saints’ two third-round draft picks, moved in with the second-team line and will be Brown’s backup going into the regular season.
The Saints’ roster now stands at 80 players with five more cuts due by 3 p.m. Tuesday.
On the third day of training camp, Payton was asked about the team’s decision to bring Smith in as a free agent.
Earlier in the spring, Payton expressed concern about the position when he said the name plate on the coaching staff’s depth chart at that position was “gray” — meaning they were unsure of what Brown could give them.
Because Smith only received a one-year contract at the minimum salary for a player going into his fifth season ($715,000), they had nothing to lose.
“It’s not an exact science,” Payton said then, noting that players drafted high sometimes struggle and players picked much lower become stars. “We like the opportunity for us to take him (Smith) here and take a peek at him and see how he is doing.”
Tight end Jimmy Graham, who’s said several times he doesn’t want to catch a pass from any other quarterback than Drew Brees during his NFL career, apparently isn’t backing down from that statement.
After practicing two days in a row, wide receiver Marques Colston did not participate in Wednesday’s workout.
It wasn’t clear if Colston had a setback from the foot injury that has limited his practice time in training camp, or was just being cautious as Payton usually doesn’t talk about injuries after practice.
After having his team run a series of gassers following Tuesday’s practice, Payton was asked if he was putting more emphasis on conditioning than in the past.
He said he’s tried to run players three times a week during training camp and preseason, which he is following again this season.
“What’s getting ready to happen is, these guys that have started off playing 12 snaps, 18 snaps, 30 snaps (in preseason games),” he said. “Very shortly, they’re going to be playing more than that. It’s just really preparing your body to have that staying power to play the whole game (in the regular season).”
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