METAIRIE, La. -- Without question, the highlight of Thursday's New Orleans Saints practice came when they trotted out the big men to try and field punts.
This should absolutely become a thing at the Pro Bowl every year -- if not the Super Bowl halftime show.
And it was intense, too, since it was a spirited competition between the offense and defense that went into triple sudden-death overtime, with an extra set of up-downs on the line for the losers.
"Oh my goodness. That was bad, dude," Unger lamented. "I was the last one up of course, and I had to lose it for the offense. What are you going to do?"
The final tally for the defense: NT John Jenkins, DE Cameron Jordan, OLB Parys Haralson and Eulls all caught their punts, while DE Akiem Hicks failed to even get a hand on his and LB David Hawthorne dropped his.
Most of the misses came because guys misjudged the ball in the air, though a few of the big men looked awfully smooth – most notably Armstead and Jordan.
"It tells you a lot, doesn't it?" Coach Sean Payton said. "You learn a lot. You can see who played baseball and who didn't. ... A few of those guys were pretty impressive."
Here are some other highs and lows that stood out during Thursday's practice, which was the second OTA session open to the media this offseason:
Rookie inside linebacker Stephone Anthony also flashed his athleticism for the second straight week. This time he batted down a pass from rookie quarterback Garrett Grayson in full-team drills. Last week he leaped up to snag an impressive interception against quarterback Luke McCown. Fellow rookie linebacker Hau'oli Kikaha hasn't had the same type of highlight moment yet in the two practices we've seen. But Kikaha did spend a lot of time rotating in with the first-string nickel defense Thursday while starter Junior Galette was sidelined for an undisclosed reason. Kikaha has flashed some athleticism while rushing during the non-contact sessions.
Rookie cornerback P.J. Williams had a high moment and a low moment. At one point while playing the nickel cornerback role with the second-string defense, Williams didn't realize they had switched to the base alignment, and coaches had to stop play and shout for him to get off the field. Later, however, Williams intercepted a pass on an ugly play during team drills (the snap actually sailed over quarterback Ryan Griffin's head, and an onlooker quickly tossed it back to Griffin, who then rushed to get off the pass into traffic).
The secondary had a couple breakdowns that left receivers open, and cornerback Kyle Wilson got beat at least once each by Jones and Coleman. However, both safety Kenny Vaccaro and Stanley Jean-Baptiste stood out once each by rejecting deep jump balls intended for Benjamin Watson and Kyle Prater, respectively. Safety Rafael Bush also batted down a pass while blitzing.