- Mike Triplett, ESPN Staff Writer
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A daily review of the hot topics coming out of New Orleans Saints training camp:
It was another dominant day for the Saints' secondary, according to reports and highlights from Wednesday's practice, as the defense continued to bounce back from a rough start to training camp. Safety Rafael Bush intercepted quarterback Ryan Griffin to kill a spirited 2-minute drill at the end of practice, stepping in front of a pass intended for tight end Jimmy Graham. Rookie cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste also denied quarterback Luke McCown from scoring in the same set of drills with two pass break-ups, including a near-pick of his own. Cornerback Patrick Robinson had an interception in 7-on-7 drills. And cornerback Keenan Lewis and safety Kenny Vaccaro were also noted for making multiple plays during practice (not to mention joining Bush in a scuffle with receiver Charles Hawkins at one point).
Graham wasn't completely denied. He scored a touchdown during 7-on-7 drills and promptly faked a slam-dunk attempt before stopping just short and holding the ball up high. He then went ahead and finished the dunk a moment later. But Graham knows that he needs to start working on some new material now that the NFL has outlawed his trademark dunk celebration -- especially since he looks primed to keep scoring touchdowns in bunches. As Vaccaro noted the other day after Graham beat him down the field in the scrimmage, "The dude's flying. He's faster than last year, he seems stronger."
Three guys who haven't been mentioned too often throughout training camp were singled out for making some nice plays Wednesday -- receiver Robert Meachem and rookie linebackers Khairi Fortt and Ronald Powell. Although younger receivers Brandin Cooks and Nick Toon stood out more earlier in camp, Meachem proved last year that he won't be easily removed from the lineup since he's so reliable as a blocker and deep-route runner. That battle for the fourth receiver job between Meachem and Toon will be compelling all summer. … As for Fortt and Powell, they've battled the age-old issue of trying to play at full speed while still learning and thinking too much. But as they get more comfortable, their athleticism is starting to show up more.
Kicker Shayne Graham maintained the "hot foot" at the end of practice, making all four of his field-goal attempts, including two from 50-plus yards. Derek Dimke went 3-for-4, missing a 53-yarder wide left. They've now missed two each during practices. But the preseason games will be more important. And as I've said consistently, it's Graham's job to lose as long as he looks steady enough. I think he could afford one or two misses as long as he shows overall consistency.
No practice on Thursday as the Saints travel to St. Louis. The next glimpse we'll get of them will be the preseason opener Friday night in the Edward Jones Dome against the St. Louis Rams.
6hEric D. Williams