WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. -- The New Orleans Saints are off Sunday, so I thought it would be a good chance to empty my notebook from the week. Check out Part 2 later this afternoon:
Marques Colston (6-foot-4, 225 pounds) has always been the Saints’ biggest receiver. But he’s now looking up to undrafted rookie Brandon Coleman (6-6, 225). “This is the first time I’ve had a receiver where I can feel like I am looking in the mirror,” Colston said of the former Rutgers standout, who has turned things around in camp after struggling during OTAs.
Meanwhile, Saints offensive tackle Zach Strief also compared rookie receiver Brandin Cooks to Colston (from a personality standpoint, not a physical one, since Cooks is 5-10, 189). “He carries himself like a much older player," Strief said. "You talk about a guy you’d like to come in and have an immediate impact, a lot of that is, ‘Is it too big?' Is the scene too big? Is it too big to get a pass from Drew Brees? Is it too fast? He acts like an eight-year vet, he really does. He’s very calm, cool and collected. He’s very Marques Colston-esque, personality-wise. He’s very quiet, just comes to work, all the things you want to see. I don’t know where we keep finding these receivers that don’t talk.”
Strief also did a great job breaking down Cooks’ speed: “He’s electric. I think the thing you see with Brandin is that it seems very natural. It doesn’t seem like when he’s running fast that he’s running fast. You see some guys really get going and it looks like (it). Like Mark Ingram, when he gets to top speed it’s like a freight train. You know what I mean? It looks like he’s really driving. Brandin just seems to kind of smoothly go faster than everybody. It’s clearly real natural to him, and he’s got a great burst.”
Saints linebacker Curtis Lofton said the funny thing about new veteran cornerback Champ Bailey is that everywhere he goes, he has four young defensive backs following him around like a shadow. “As young players, they grew up watching him, and now he’s in the same room. It’s unbelievable,” Lofton said. “I’d be doing the same thing if that was Ray Lewis or Mike Singletary.”
Speaking of Lofton, both Cameron Jordan and Junior Galette made a point to single him out this week as a vital part of New Orleans’ defense, even though the younger guys are getting more attention right now. Galette called him the “calming influence” that helps keep everyone focused.
I also liked Galette’s description of powerful defensive end Akiem Hicks, saying he’s so athletic for a 6-5, 324-pounder that he can “tomahawk dunk” on the basketball court. And when asked if it’s true that teammates marvel at Hicks’ prowess in the weight room, Galette said, “Everything you’ve heard and more. ... I leave the weight room when he comes in.”
Saints coach Sean Payton offered lofty praise to perennial practice-squad receiver Andy Tanner, who has continued to stand out in practice for the fifth straight summer. “He is someone that you don’t ever take for granted," Payton said. "He is a guy you don’t bet against. He is a grinder. He is tough. He knows what to do. Shoot, he has a lot of traits that endear himself to the team. He has the respect of his teammates, and they have seen him work, and they have seen him be successful. Defensively, guys will talk about who is tough to cover. ... I think he’d be one of those guys they would bring up.”
I’ve been eyeing undrafted rookie tight end Nic Jacobs as a wild-card possibility to crack the 53-man roster because of his unique size (6-5, 269). Jacobs first caught my eye when he showed surprising athleticism while catching a pass. But he’s been even more impressive as a blocker, according to Strief: “He’s as physical a blocker as any tight end we’ve had here. You see it on film, he just buries his face in guys’ chests.”