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Andrus Peat makes debut with Saints starters -- at left tackle

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. -- The New Orleans Saints threw top draft pick Andrus Peat into the fire Thursday. He spent the day working as the first-string left tackle while starter Terron Armstead remains sidelined with an unspecified injury.

Armstead is expected back any day now. But coach Sean Payton said the Saints decided it would be a good opportunity to continue cross-training Peat.

Peat had spent the entire summer working as the second-string right tackle before he took snaps at left tackle for the first time Wednesday with the third-string offense. The 6-foot-7, 316-pounder played left tackle at Stanford.

"For us it made a lot of sense with where we were at, sitting one more day with Terron," Payton said. "We’ve got some flexibility there. And last night we said, 'Hey, let’s move him over on the left side right now.' And it’s a position he’s familiar with."

My read on the situation is that the Saints are preparing Peat to become their top backup option at both tackle spots.

I wouldn’t necessarily call it a promotion for Peat. In fact, it might be the opposite, since Peat was projected to compete with veteran right tackle Zach Strief for a starting job.

That competition hasn’t really developed so far as Peat has continued to be a work in progress.

However, it could be considered a promotion ahead of veteran backup Bryce Harris in that backup "swing" tackle role. Harris moved back to right tackle on Thursday.

From my vantage point, Peat seemed to hold up pretty well throughout Thursday’s session, which included a heavy dose of red-zone work and simulated two-minute drills. On one play, quarterback Drew Brees scrambled forever to his left behind Peat before throwing a touchdown pass to receiver Seantavius Jones.

"We’ll see the tape," Payton said of Peat’s performance. "I’m sure there’s some good things, and I’m sure there’s some things he wants to correct."