Saints Camp Report: Day 1
July, 25, 2014
By Mike Triplett | ESPN.com
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of New Orleans Saints training camp:
- Cooks delivers: The guy I was most excited to watch Friday didn't disappoint. Rookie receiver Brandin Cooks made the play of the day, leaping up to reel in a deep pass from Drew Brees in front of safety Ty Zimmerman. Teammates were impressed, including Jimmy Graham, who was practicing with Cooks for the first time. Graham said he asked, "Who was that?" before chasing down Cooks to celebrate. Veteran cornerback Champ Bailey said he doesn't want to get ahead of himself but thinks Cooks could be something special. Cooks' best assets are his speed and quickness, but he showed physicality and ball skills as well on the play. However, Cooks gave Brees the credit: "All I had to do was go up and get it," Cooks said.
- Weather delivers: The only thing players raved about more Friday was the weather. With temperatures in the 60s in the West Virginia mountains, Brees insisted they could have run 200 plays. And linebacker Curtis Lofton estimated it as an "eight-pound difference" from practices in Metairie, Louisiana, where he said he would typically lose 10 pounds each day. Most importantly, both Graham and offensive tackle Zach Strief said they were mentally sharper since they weren't physically zapped. Strief said it was the sharpest first-day practice he ever remembers.
- Warren's "hat trick": An early contender for one of those undrafted-rookie successes is Jacksonville State safety Pierre Warren. He's had the opportunity to line up with the second-string defense throughout the summer, thanks to starter Jairus Byrd's injury. And he came up with a big play Friday, stripping running back Derrick Strozier, recovering the fumble and returning it for a TD. A coach yelled out, "The first hat trick!"
- Coleman starts strong: Fellow undrafted rookie, receiver Brandon Coleman, struggled at times during organized team activities and minicamp, but the physically imposing 6-foot-6, 225-pounder started strong during training camp with an impressive catch over cornerback Corey White's head on a deep crossing route. If his production matches his physical skills, he could be something.
- Position battles: Second-year quarterback Ryan Griffin threw that beautiful strike to Coleman, one of the highlight plays of the day. Griffin was working as the No. 3 quarterback behind veteran Luke McCown, but they'll rotate throughout camp. … In other roster battles, cornerback Bailey, outside linebacker Victor Butler and center Tim Lelito lined up with the first string Friday, but that will likely change on a rotating basis as well.