John Jenkins reportedly has surgery; Saints secondary works on takeaways

Saints nose tackle John Jenkins had surgery to repair a torn pectoral muscle and is out until training camp, NFL.com reported Tuesday.

Saints coach Sean Payton was asked about the report after practice Tuesday, but declined to comment on it, saying the team would not discuss injuries to players.

The NFL does not require teams to file an injury report during offseason activities in the same manner they do during the regular season.

Payton said the Saints would closely monitor Jenkins and any other players who have not been participating in drills at offseason practices or minicamps.

Jenkins did not participate in the first two weeks of organized team activities and was not present for the first day of minicamp Tuesday.

Jenkins, a third-round pick out of Georgia last year, rotated with Brodrick Bunkley at nose tackle as a rookie in 2013 and is expected to do so again this season.

Turning it over

Can an NFL defense be good without forcing turnovers? Saints cornerback Champ Bailey thinks so, although he has no intentions to prove his theory.

After all, Bailey added, such a defense will only take a team so far.

“I think you can do great things without turnovers,” Bailey said, “but it won’t help you win the big games. You’ve got to get turnovers.”

Last season, the Saints finished the regular season with the league’s fourth-ranked defense, yet they also ranked 24th in interceptions (12) and 14th in fumbles recovered (13).

But the Saints’ lack of takeaways finally caught up to them in the NFC Divisional playoff loss to Seattle. Quarterback Russell Wilson threw no interceptions, and his offense no turnovers. Final score: Seahawks 23, Saints 15.

To combat this, the Saints replaced half of their secondary.

Bailey was signed, as well as prized free agent Jarius Byrd, a free safety.

“I really like our secondary,” defensive coordinator Rob Ryan said of a group which includes cornerback Keenan Lewis and strong safety Kenny Vaccaro. “They’re working well.”

Hawkins makes a nice grab

Receiver Charles Hawkins, a former St. Augustine and Southern star, made one of the best catch-and-run plays of Tuesday’s practice.

Hawkins hopes to do even more, including on special teams where he hopes to compete with return duties.

“It’s great (catching passes from Drew Brees),” Hawkins said. “He gives you confidence in the huddle. It’s great looking into that guy’s eyes and he’s looking back, and he’s giving you that confidence that he’s going to get you the ball. Even if he doesn’t, it’s great being in the huddle with him.”

During his senior season at Southern (2012), Hawkins caught 31 passes for 467 yards and seven touchdowns.

He’s got the passion

Speaking of linebackers, Saints coach Sean Payton scoffed when asked about a pre-draft reporting claiming rookie linebacker Ronald Powell (Florida) was not a self-starter.

“All of our research that we try to pay attention to is that he is a guy that pays attention and has a passion for playing,” Payton said. “I’m not familiar with the pre-draft stuff from the other people.”

Powell entered college as one of the nation’s most highly recruited prospects but was slowed by an ACL injury during his junior season in 2012. The Saints selected Powell in the fifth round.

Nice connection

Brees connected with Travaris Cadet in traffic, with four Saints defenders in the area. Cadet dove to make the catch during red zone drills.

Defensive highlight

It’s a tie between safety Rafael Bush, who made the first big defensive play in skeleton drills, intercepting Brees, and Kenny Vaccaro’s ability to deny tight end Benjamin Watson later on a short route.

The more, the better

Back from an ACL injury, outside linebacker Victor Butler has a theory about the long list of Saints pass rushers.

“You can never have too much of a good thing,” Butler said.

Once a projected starter, Butler will have to compete with Parys Haralson among others for playing time in the rotation.