It certainly wasn’t a surprise to hear New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton say he’s eager to see how things will shake out at left tackle in the Black and Gold Scrimmage on Saturday.
Four-year veteran Charles Brown has been in the lead in the race to replace two-time Pro Bowler Jermon Bushrod since the start of training camp last week, but Payton will take a long look at Brown and second-teamer Terron Armstead, a rookie, in the scrimmage.
Actually, it was at the top of a list of positions Payton said he’ll examine.
Other areas he’ll watch are the battle between the wide receivers and defensive backs, which has been extremely competitive in the first eight practices of camp, and a large group of young outside linebackers — including sixth-round draft pick Rufus Johnson.
What to expect
Payton said the scrimmage will be similar to what the Saints have done in the past — even though they didn’t have one a year ago because they played in the Hall of Fame Game.
The players will take part in individual drills and likely some 7-on-7 and 9-on-7 work, which is similar to what they do in practice every day, before a series of team drills composed of eight to 12 plays each.
“We’ll put the ones versus the twos, the ones versus the ones,” Payton said. “We’ll put some special teams in there. It’s kind of a controlled scrimmage. We’ll stay off the quarterbacks and stay away from cutting, blocking below the waist.
“We’ll try to stay healthy and pretty much what we’ve done before.”
Even though it was only a practice, wide receiver Joe Morgan went from one extreme to the other Friday.
Morgan, who had trouble catching the ball in training camp last year, let a high throw from Luke McCown go through his hands in the back of the end zone in 7-on-7 drills before redeeming himself a few minutes later.
After McCown finished the 7-on-7 drill by throwing back-to-back touchdowns to Benjamin Watson and Chris Givens, Morgan opened the first team drills of the day with a sensational catch on a pass from Drew Brees.
Morgan reached out to stab the wide throw, then managed to pull the ball in with his right hand. He secured it to his body while lying flat on his back.
After getting a day off from Payton to rest when the team went inside for a practice Thursday on artificial turf, running back Mark Ingram was back at work Friday.
Ingram had turf-toe surgery just after the 2011 season.
Four months later, he had arthroscopic surgery on his knee. The procedures slowed him during training camp last summer.
Wallace to sit out
Payton said Seneca Wallace, who’s vying with McCown for the backup quarterback spot, won’t participate in Saturday’s scrimmage.
Wallace, a 10-year veteran, strained his groin earlier in the week and will benefit from another two days of rest.
Outside linebacker Martez Wilson (elbow), defensive end Tom Johnson (hip), wide receiver Marques Colston (foot) and cornerback Patrick Robinson (knee) also won’t play. Colston and Robinson remain on the physically-unable-to-perform list.
Scrimmage open to public
Saturday’s scrimmage, which begins at 8:50 a.m. and will conclude around 11 a.m., is open to fans with seating on a first-come, first-served basis.
Gates to the team’s training facility at 5800 Airline Drive in Metairie open at 8 a.m.
Five observations from Friday’s practice session:
1. In preparation for Black and Gold Scrimmage, the Saints worked extensively on third-down and short-yardage siutations during a two-hour practice.
2. Cornerback Keenan Lewis, the Saints’ top pickup in free agency this winter, had a nice day with two pass breakups, drawing cheers from fans.
3. Joe Morgan, who had trouble with drops last summer, had one in the end zone during 7-on-7 drills minutes before making a great catch in team work.
4. Luke McCown had a hot hand in 7-on-7, throwing TDs to Benjamin Watson and Chris Givens right after Morgan let one slip through his fingers.
5. There was a tense moment when Jimmy Graham out-fought cornerback Jabari Greer for a pass and spiked the ball at the feet of Greer, who took a step toward Graham before walking away.
OUT: LB Martez Wilson (elbow), QB Seneca Wallace (groin), DE Tom Johnson (hip), LB Ray Shipman (hamstring), WR Marques Colston (foot), CB Patrick Robinson (knee), LB Victor Butler (knee).