The Saints’ top draft pick took snaps as the second-string left guard during Sunday’s practice -- the first time he’s played guard this summer. Coach Sean Payton said Peat will probably be back at tackle on Monday, but he said the Saints wanted to give him a look at guard early in camp to increase his versatility.
My read on the situation is the same as it was last week when Peat began taking snaps at left tackle for the first time. I don’t see this as a promotion or a full-time position switch. I see it as the Saints grooming Peat to be their top backup at a variety of positions since he hasn’t been making an immediate push for the starting right tackle job.
Peat spent the entire summer as the Saints’ second-string right tackle until late last week, when he switched over to left tackle to fill in for injured starter Terron Armstead for two days. The 6-foot-7, 316-pounder played left tackle throughout his career at Stanford.
“What we’ve been able to do based on our personnel, if all of a sudden we’re down in one position, he’s kind of been that guy,” Payton said. “He’s been at right tackle, left at the end of the week, then we were down a guard today and we wanted to put him in at left guard. The key is to get the right five guys out there.
“I do see him as a tackle, and yet I think he has the athleticism to play inside. We felt like early in camp, we wanted to do that.”
If you’re projecting the Saints’ starting rotation as of today, Peat shouldn’t be on it. Terron Armstead is entrenched as the starting left tackle. Zach Strief is going to be hard to supplant at right tackle. And Tim Lelito is the front-runner at left guard -- with Senio Kelemete probably next in line at all three interior line spots.
But Peat could wind up filling it at any of those spots if needed, especially as he continues to develop.
As I’ve chronicled many times throughout the past week, Peat remains a work in progress. But that will change as his conditioning improves and he gets more comfortable with the playbook and his assignments. Coaches and teammates have continued to rave about Peat's potential and his athleticism for his size.
Expectations are higher for Peat since he was the 13th pick in the draft. But keep in mind, Armstead didn’t see the field until Week 16 of his rookie season. And Strief and former Pro Bowl tackles Jermon Bushrod and Jon Stinchcomb took years to crack the starting lineup.
It remains to be seen which path Peat will follow.
“We saw a real good athlete who had size,” Payton said when asked if the Saints’ vision for Peat included him possibly playing guard. “I would say the vision all along has been tackle, and yet what’s most important is trying to get the right combination out there.
“We’ll keep moving him around. He’s bright. He knows what to do.”
Anthony remains with starters: Meanwhile, the Saints' other first-round pick, linebacker Stephone Anthony, continues to make a strong push for a starting job. Anthony remained with the starting unit at Mike linebacker Sunday even though veteran Will linebacker Dannell Ellerbe returned from a lingering injury. Veteran David Hawthorne, who has played both inside linebacker positions, worked with the second string.