Tulane camp report: Defense, running backs get intense at practice

The explosiveness Tulane’s offense showed in its first scrimmage Saturday extended to Tuesday’s practice.

In one particularly intense drill, with a constant din coming from their surrounding coaches and teammates, the offense exclusively ran rushing plays against the defense. Though linebackers Rene Fleury and Ed Williams made good plays by plugging up holes, running back Sherman Badie was the standout.

A misdirection pitch confused the defense and made it easy for Badie to run 30 yards for a score. On another, he leaped over an offensive teammate before banging out a bunch more yards. To end the drill, he found a large hole and displayed impressive acceleration that put him in the end zone untouched.

“The defense in our team drill — I thought they did well, but we gave up a couple long runs,” coach Curtis Johnson said. “When you let Sherman get in the open, it’s going to be a touchdown every time.”

Johnson said the emphasis was on the two-minute drill, during which his newly named starting quarterback showed why he got the nod. Freshman Tanner Lee led the first drive, capping it with a touchdown strike to freshman tight end Charles Jones.

“That’s the one thing about his two-minute,” Johnson said, “His arm is so strong, you can’t really get a beat on him. He can throw it now very, very accurately.”

He also had compliments for the throw’s recipient. Jones (6-foot-3, 235 pounds) has long been on the lookout for someone to play the important tight end role in his scaled-down version of the Saints’ offense, and he thinks he may have found it in Jones or fellow freshman Trey Scott.

“Charles is playing fantastic,” Johnson said. “He’s one of the superstars, I think, of this camp. Charles and Trey Scott are playing at a high level. For this offense to go — I don’t know if we have a Jimmy Graham, but you have to have some kind of tight end production, and I think we’ve got those guys.”

Running circles

Aside from Badie, other players were running circles around their teammates, but they didn’t get similar praise. Rather, they were running laps around the field in the Saints’ indoor facility as a form of punishment.

Johnson said during his first full-pads practice that he’d be cautious in letting players pull others to the ground during camp, and those that did it Tuesday faced consequences.

For the second consecutive day, a perturbed Eric Thomas took laps, this time for causing a pop that echoed throughout the facility when his helmet met that of Dontrell Hilliard along the sideline. Safety Sam Scofield was sent off to run when he took down a receiver on a go route. And safety Carlton Williams’ tackle of receiver Terren Encalade meant he had to drop and roll 30 yards to the end zone.

“We have to learn how to practice,” Johnson said. “I don’t want guys tackled every down. You’ve got to discipline them now, so for the rest of the season we’ll get that corrected.”

Injury report

Midway through practice, receiver Marc Edwards was sitting on a cooler, waiting with his left cleat off for a trainer to wrap his ankle. Johnson said he thought Edwards would be OK.