Bobby Richardson leads group of young Saints d-linemen turning heads

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. -- The early favorite for "undrafted rookie darling" in New Orleans Saints camp is defensive lineman Bobby Richardson.

The 6-foot-3, 286-pounder from Indiana has been flashing two or three times in every practice, it seems. And Sunday was no exception.

Richardson batted down a pass and broke into the backfield at least once during full-team drills. And he burned guard Tim Lelito during one-on-one pass rush drills. The other day, Richardson had an apparent sack against Drew Brees while rotating in with the starters (if live contact was allowed).

"Bobby had a couple good snaps today, and that's encouraging," coach Sean Payton said.

Veteran defensive lineman Kevin Williams also praised Richardson, saying he has taken him under his wing this summer.

Richardson's biggest hurdle in cracking the Saints' roster, though, will be the crowded competition around him. Second-year undrafted tackle Lawrence Virgil and fifth-round draft pick Tyeler Davison have also flashed a few times in camp while taking their own turns rotating in with the first string. And fellow undrafted rookies Kaleb Eulls and Tavaris Barnes also ranked among the more highly-touted players that New Orleans picked up this spring.

Among other highs and lows from Sunday's practice:

  • I already wrote about some of the defensive highlights, including a "pad-popping" day for safeties Kenny Vaccaro and Rafael Bush and the first two interceptions so far in camp team drills from Kenny Phillips and Henry Coley.

  • Second-year outside linebacker Kasim Edebali is another young player who has repeatedly flashed. He got inside for two possible sacks during team drills and torched left tackle Bryce Harris in a one-on-one pass rush drill. Edebali has consistently stood out during that drill over the past two days. "Edebali plays with great effort and intensity, he's a finisher, he's got a nose for getting to the football," Payton said of the 6-2, 253-pounder, who will try to work his way into the pass rush mix this year.

  • On the flip side, rookie pass-rusher Hau'oli Kikaha remains a work in progress. He was held at bay during all of his one-on-one pass-rush drills and got stood up in a 9-on-7 inside run drill. The 6-3, 246 pounder is noticeably athletic, active and aggressive. But he needs to find ways to get around people more consistently.

  • Fellow rookie right tackle Andrus Peat battled some more inconsistency himself in the pass rush and team drills, getting beat for at least one sack and one blown-up run play. He held up well on many other plays, though, and still has plenty of time to find his groove.

  • Running back C.J. Spiller had a nasty cutback that went for a big gain in the inside run drills. The Saints haven't done much nickel work yet, so Spiller's "oohs" and "aahs" have been kept in check. But his explosiveness is still apparent on plays like that one.

  • Left tackle Terron Armstead had another standout performance in those one-on-one pass-rush drills, twice against Ronald Powell and once against Cameron Jordan. He's been the best in that drill so far -- though center Max Unger has impressed as well, holding tough against the power bull rush of nose tackle John Jenkins.

  • Brees had his share of daily highlights, but the moment that stood out most was when he slammed his helmet in frustration after missing a throw during "routes on air." Rookie quarterback Garrett Grayson pointed it out as an example of the constant competitiveness he's seen from Brees.

  • Veteran outside linebacker Anthony Spencer sat out Sunday's practice with an undisclosed ailment. Guard Mike McGlynn and tight end Kevin Brock were also new to the injury list.