WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of New Orleans Saints training camp:
The action will pick up considerably Saturday when the Saints hold their intrasquad scrimmage. It won't be a true game simulation, but the offensive and defensive units will take turns squaring off with a running clock, down markers, officials and live tackling (everyone but the quarterbacks, that is). It will be the best opportunity yet to evaluate the linemen, pass rushers, run game and run defense. So some young guys could flash. But I'm most looking forward to watching the high-end starters because this will be the most competitive, high-intensity session to date -- especially when the starting offense faces the starting defense (typically for only one or two drives). That's when we'll see matchups like Drew Brees and Jimmy Graham vs. Keenan Lewis and Kenny Vaccaro, Junior Galette vs. Terron Armstead, etc. "We'll limit the amount of calls we have and try to get to the nuts and bolts ... so the players can play fast," Saints coach Sean Payton said. "And then we will look real close at the tape."
Not that we've been lacking intensity so far. For the second straight day, a couple of brief skirmishes broke out during Friday's practice -- including swings exchanged between right tackle Zach Strief and defensive end Tyrunn Walker. At the end of a physical rushing drill, defensive end Akiem Hicks was still jawing at the offense. You get the sense Hicks lives for moments like that. As teammate Cameron Jordan described Hicks, he's both a monster and a monstrosity.
Undrafted rookie receiver Brandon Coleman had a number of nice catches Friday, including at least two touchdowns in team drills (and possibly a third, depending on whether he kept his toes in bounds). Coleman has easily been the Saints' most improved player since OTAs, when he was struggling with dropped passes. It's far too early to predict whether he has a chance to crack the 53-man roster at a deep position group (fellow undrafted rookie Seantavius Jones and longtime practice squadder Andy Tanner have also looked good at times). But Coleman's impressive 6-foot-6, 225-pound frame makes him worth watching. "I think he is stronger in his lower body," Payton said when asked about Coleman's improvement. "He is a little bit further removed from the injury he had his last year at Rutgers. I see him carrying his weight a little bit better in this fall training camp then he was able to in the spring."
We had our first missed field-goal attempt of camp in full-team drills. Veteran Shayne Graham went 2 of 3, while young hopeful Derek Dimke went 3 of 3. I still consider Graham the front-runner, but the preseason games will be especially important.
Saturday's scrimmage is schedule for 8:50 a.m. eastern time. After that, players will get a long break. There is no afternoon walk-through scheduled, and the Saints don't return to the practice field until 4 p.m. Monday.