Praise continues for Saints CB Delvin Breaux

Former CFL player Delvin Breaux continues to impress the Saints as he battles to be the team's nickel cornerback. Claus Andersen/Getty Images

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. -- Backup cornerback Delvin Breaux has continued to impress the New Orleans Saints' coaching staff.

The New Orleans native, who is attempting to complete a remarkable comeback from a broken neck suffered in high school, vaulted up the depth chart during OTAs and minicamp. And he has continued to draw praise through the first three days of training camp.

"He's been a pleasant surprise," senior defensive assistant Dennis Allen said. "Obviously I thought he had a really good spring. He's come back out and really picked up where he left off.

"You know, the evaluation process takes time. I don't want to get too high or too down on anybody. But I like what I've seen so far."

Breaux, 25, played a series with the first-string defense in place of starter Brandon Browner at one point Saturday (though he might have missed an assignment since receiver Brandin Cooks broke wide open on his side of the field).

Later, Breaux rejected a pass intended for Cooks while playing with the second string.

When asked about Breaux continuing to make plays, coach Sean Payton responded, "He sure has."

“It was a good practice for him," Payton said. "I saw him get his hands on a handful of balls. He's been very consistent. He's instinctive. And (like startin corners Keenan Lewis and Browner), he's got the length and the makeup speed."

Breaux (6-foot-1, 196 pounds) spent the past two years in the Canadian Football League, where he was impressive enough to earn tryouts with at least 13 NFL teams.

He seems to have the early lead in a crowded competition for the Saints' nickel cornerback job. But it's still early,and there are a lot of contenders, including last year's second-round draft pick Stanley Jean-Baptiste; this year's third- and fifth-round picks, P.J. Williams and Damian Swann; and new free-agent addition Kyle Wilson.

Jean-Baptiste has looked decent so far in camp, showing improvement from last year while working across from Breaux with the second string. But the Saints bumped Swann up ahead of Jean-Baptiste in the rotation Saturday. They'll likely continue to mix and match throughout camp.

Some other notables from Saturday’s practice:

  • I earlier chronicled the physical highlights from the Saints' first day in pads (rookie linebacker Stephone Anthony stood out, while fellow first-round pick Andrus Peat hit a rough patch in 1-on-1 pass-rush drills).

  • Kickers Dustin Hopkins and Zach Hocker each went 4-for-4 on their field goal attempts, though Hocker bounced one in off the upright. That’s a tight battle that will be waged for weeks. Former Saints kicker John Carney is once again visiting camp to work with them for a few days, as he did earlier in the summer.

  • The offense was plagued by a handful of dropped balls Saturday (including a rare one from Cooks and a ball that slipped out of rookie QB Garrett Grayson's hand on the final snap of practice). But they still provided two big plays during team drills -- a deep TD pass from Drew Brees to Joseph Morgan behind Browner and a short pass from Brees to Cooks that turned into a long TD when Cooks burned past Lewis and Rafael Bush.

  • Rookie return man Marcus Murphy muffed a punt after dropping a kickoff return on Friday. The seventh-round pick has plenty of time to get that cleaned up, but he needs to excel since that's what he was brought here to do.