METAIRIE, La. – Time for some observations from the New Orleans Saints’ first practice of camp.
Rookie cornerback Patrick Robinson got his contract signed, passed his physical and got on the field for a good chunk of practice. I’m not going to anoint him after one practice, but he looked good out there. Extremely athletic, and I can see him immediately being the third corner behind Jabari Greer and Tracy Porter. By the way, Robinson doesn’t seem to have the same problem with hazing as Dallas rookie Dez Bryant. Robinson walked off the field carrying the shoulder pads and helmets of some veteran members of the secondary.
Jon Gruden was out at practice, and I think this is a repeat of last year. That’s when Gruden spent a few days with his old buddy Sean Payton and sat in on the meetings with the quarterbacks. Coaches are often superstitious, and Payton might view Gruden as a good-luck charm.
From what I saw, Troy Evans was getting most of the work at Scott Fujita’s old linebacker spot. But I think this one will be a battle throughout camp and the preseason. Jo-Lonn Dunbar and some other young linebackers are in the mix.
It appeared Alex Brown got the first-team work at Charles Grants’ old defensive end spot. He looked pretty good. With Jimmy Wilkerson and Bobby McCray as backups, I think the Saints are in better shape at that spot than they were a year ago.
I listed long-snapper Jason Kyle as a veteran, who possibly could be on the bubble, the other day. So much for that. The Saints created Robinson’s roster spot by releasing Clint Gresham, the guy who was supposed to challenge Kyle.
Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams brought up the so-called “Super Bowl hangover’’ that the media has touched upon. Williams got pretty emotional and said he resents those implications. He backed up his reasoning extensively and said this season’s team can be better than last season’s. I’ll share all that with you Saturday when we feature the Saints in our Camp Confidential segment.
Another reminder to any fans that were planning on coming out for Friday's afternoon practice: Don't do it. Because of the extreme heat, the Saints will practice indoors. That will be closed to the public. The same plan is in place for Saturday afternoon's session. I'll be out at this afternoon's practice and will share some more observations with you tonight.