Saints Training Camp Insider: Aug. 5

Get the inside scoop from New Orleans Saints training camp every day, with comments from head coach Sean Payton and analysis on how camp performances are affecting position battles. Who won't play on Thursday? Who's playing gunner on special teams? And more tidbits from Monday's workout inside.

Marques Colston: Is it time to start worrying about Colston's balky knee? Saints head coach Sean Payton doesn't think so. "I anticipate him being questionable for this first game. If it were the regular season, we'd probably push through it and he'd play but we'll see where he's at," Payton said.

Payton also said that the swelling is in a different part of the knee and stems from a different bruise than his previous injury.

Colston has missed more workouts than the Saints and Payton would care for him to, given that he's their No. 1 receiver. Keeping him healthy is the most important priority, so sitting him on Thursday against Arizona might be a solid decision. But this is reaching the point where concern about Colston's performance in the early stages of the regular season becomes an issue.

Josh Savage: He suffered a shoulder injury in the scrimmage last weekend, but Payton said the defensive end may play on Thursday. His status could be why the Saints made two roster moves on Monday, both for defensive tackles. That would really be for depth purposes. But from Savage's perspective, the signing of James Reed, an eight-year veteran, is concerning. It's not even that they play the same position. The Saints are looking for the right combination of tackles and ends for the regular season, and Reed could see some playing time Thursday if both Savage and Brian Young — who sat out Monday's workout — can't play.

Other players that did not practice: DT Hollis Thomas, CB Tracy Porter, CB Josh Bullocks, CB Mike McKenzie and WR Devery Henderson.

Who's not playing on Thursday: Payton said Jeremy Shockey, Mike McKenzie, Deuce McAllister, Tracy Porter and Devery Henderson will not play Thursday night. "Then we expect Porter, Henderson, Shockey and all of them to be back at practice at full speed, which would be Saturday then with the Friday day-after schedule," Payton said.

Mark Campbell: The news that Campbell is having a pain-free camp is encouraging. The release of Eric Johnson put some pressure on the seven-year veteran to prove that his back was no longer an issue. Payton said on Monday that Campbell is getting a lot of work and that he's handling the transition well. Now, with Jeremy Shockey in camp, Campbell still has a long way to go. You have to assume that Billy Miller will be the No. 2 tight end, and that Campbell, Buck Ortega and Ronnie Ghent will compete for No. 3. In Campbell's favor is that he's a player Payton had experience with during their days in Dallas. And, like Bill Parcells, once you become a Payton guy, you're always a Payton guy.

Jonathan Goodwin: Here's a player to watch Thursday night. The journeyman guard/center will start at center on Thursday night, taking first crack at replacing Jeff Faine. Payton praised Goodwin on Monday, saying that he and QB Drew Brees are working well together. That's good news, as Goodwin has about 15 pounds on his backup, Matt Lehr, and would make a much better run blocker in Payton's offense.

Robert Meachem, Adrian Arrington and Devery Henderson: All three have lined up at gunner in some special teams drills this training camp. That's especially important for Arrington, a seventh-round pick who may need some help to make the roster. Meachem and Henderson appear safe, but being able to do more enhances their status. Payton believes it's about versatility. "Here's what happens. The final roster is 53 but then each week, 53 goes to 46 and so you go around the room and kind of know who's starting and who's playing and then when it comes to the fourth receiver or the third halfback, the third tight end, the fourth and fifth linebacker, and so on – how many plays are they going to help us in the kicking game? A lot of times, that 53 to 46 decision is based on how we feel like they're going to help us in special teams, not as much on offense or defense. That being said, I think they understand that they need to be versatile in those areas."

Keep an eye on all three on Thursday.

Jermon Bushrod and Carl Nicks: Payton said on Monday that both players will play a half on Thursday night. Bushrod will play tackle and Nicks will play guard. "I don't know that I'd be ready to say today that they're candidates to start for this team, but they're certainly candidates for a major role in what we do this season," Payton said.

These are two young players who are powerful, talented and can give the Saints solid depth, if they show they have the playbook down cold and can play multiple positions. They'll get a good audition on Thursday as the Cardinals have a solid front four.


Matthew Postins is the editor and publisher of saintsinsider.com


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