WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. – A daily review of the hot topics coming out of New Orleans Saints training camp:
Robinson rising: Cornerback Patrick Robinson had two nifty pass break-ups on back-to-back plays Saturday – another sign that he’s back to playing aggressively with confidence after a tough two-year stretch. Robinson struggled as a full-time starter in 2012, then he missed most of last season with a knee injury. But the former first-round pick clearly is energized by the chance to get back into a prominent role. For now, Champ Bailey has received the most looks as the Saints’ No. 2 cornerback, but Robinson has rotated in at times. “He’s looking great,” defensive coordinator Rob Ryan said. “He’s always looked smooth. He’s a unique guy. He’s a tall guy that can bend, and those guys are really rare.”
Offense wins: The defensive highlights were few and far between on Saturday, however. Quarterbacks Drew Brees and Ryan Griffin took advantage of some breakdowns in the secondary to complete several deep balls (with Jimmy Graham, Nick Toon and Brandin Cooks among the beneficiaries). “Today wasn’t our best,” Ryan said. “Whooo, that offense was rolling.”
Break out the pads: Players on both sides are fired up about Sunday’s practice, which will be the first padded session of the offseason. Typically they don’t tackle all the way to the ground. But they will finally get to do some real hitting. “Oh, definitely (excited), especially for the offensive and defensive linemen,” defensive end Akiem Hicks said. “That is something that we look forward to all year. We get to run around in our pajamas for most of the year, but when the pads come on, you get to hit that guy that was talking a little trash earlier in the year.”
Weather concerns? Sunday’s practice could be affected by a projected storm, as there are no indoor facilities at the Saints’ new training camp site. Coach Sean Payton joked, “We don’t get bad weather” – referencing the uncanny way the Saints avoided the rain for years in past camps in Jackson, Miss. But he said the Saints will be flexible if they need to wait out any lightning.
White at safety? Cornerback Corey White, who is competing with Bailey and Robinson, spent part of practice as the deep safety in nickel packages while safety Kenny Vaccaro moved up into the slot. It might be a moot point when safety Jairus Byrd returns from injury. But it was another example of Ryan’s creative use of the personnel at his disposal. “He’s another smart guy that’s got a lot of talent, so he can play multiple spots for us,” Ryan said.