METAIRIE, La. -- The New Orleans Saints just finished the first practice session of their minicamp.
Let’s take a quick run through some notes, highlights and observations:
Cornerback Keenan Lewis was not at practice. Coach Sean Payton said Lewis was “held out’’, but did not elaborate on the reason. Update: Nakia Hogan reports that Lewis briefly was hospitalized with stomach pains, but could be back for Wednesday's practice.
Jason Smith, who is competing for the starting left tackle spot, limped off the field about halfway through practice and was taken to the locker room.
Most of the talk about the safeties has centered on veterans Roman Harper and Malcolm Jenkins, and rookie Kenny Vaccaro. Harper and Jenkins worked with the first team Tuesday, and Vaccaro worked with the second team. But the one safety I saw make several big plays was backup Isa Abdul-Quddus.
Payton has said second-year running back Travaris Cadet has some similarities to Darren Sproles. But Cadet will have to come up with some big plays to make Payton and the coaches forget about what happened on a short pass about halfway through practice. The perfectly-thrown pass went right through Cadet’s hands and was intercepted by Corey White.
There clearly is a competition for the backup quarterback spot between Luke McCown and Seneca Wallace. I thought Wallace had the better performance Tuesday morning. I also think the Saints might be wise to keep Wallace. His mobility could be used on the scout team to help the defense get ready for the likes of Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick.
Wide receiver Jarred Fayson was the first name Payton mentioned when asked which young players stood out to him. Fayson had several nice catches. Fayson and cornerback Rod Sweeting had a brief shoving match after they collided at the end of one of Fayson’s catches.
Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan said he was impressed by the performance of rookie linebacker Rufus Johnson. He’s working behind Will Smith and Junior Galette at “Jack’’ linebacker. I saw Johnson swat down a pass, and he looks like he has some quickness.
Running back Mark Ingram hasn’t been much of a threat as a pass-catcher. But the Saints seemed to be throwing to him a fair amount Tuesday. I think that might be a sign of things to come.
I’ll have much more on Ryan and the defense in my Thursday column. But, for now, let’s just say I was impressed with how many different defensive packages the Saints put on the field Tuesday morning.