Saints rookie Andrus Peat working his way out from 'behind the 8-ball'

METAIRIE, La. -- Rookie offensive tackle Andrus Peat has had some "Welcome to the NFL" and "Welcome to New Orleans" moments while grinding out his first week of practices with the New Orleans Saints in some saucy summer weather.

Peat has had to play some catch-up with both his playbook and his conditioning since he couldn't join the Saints until the middle of last week due to Stanford's longer academic schedule.

"I think he's behind the 8-ball a little bit in terms of conditioning. And so it's been a little harder for him to be able to respond to all the things we're doing," said offensive line coach Bret Ingalls, who previously raved about Peat's combination of size and athleticism during last month's rookie minicamp.

"But he's showing the same quickness with his feet for a guy that large," Ingalls continued. "I think what's gonna be fair for him is, 'Where are we at come August when we get started?' and then let him go from there, because he missed so many days."

Coach Sean Payton made a similar comment on Tuesday, saying Peat has been a quick study, but, "With him, just like the rest of the guys, it's physical, it's getting in shape to practice for over two hours."

The team will hardly hold that against Peat, whom they drafted with the 13th overall pick. They've seen rookies come in behind the 8-ball many times before. Payton brings up the example of receiver Marques Colston's transformation from rookie camp to training camp all the time, among others.

And Peat gets an extra grace period because of the NFL rule about rookies that come from schools with extended academic calendars. He missed more than two weeks of organized team activities.

Peat, a massive 6-foot-7, 316-pounder, said he has never had any issues with gaining or losing weight -- so that's not a concern for him. But he did admit that there's always a difference when it comes to getting into "football shape."

"I think I kind of fell behind a little bit just missing that time, and then just with everything leading up to the draft, taking visits and stuff like that," Peat said. "But I feel like I'm slowly getting back to where I was."

It's hard to evaluate how well Peat is performing on the field so far since players aren't in full pads yet and no live contact is involved. Training camp and the preseason games will offer a much better glimpse, not only because of the conditioning, but because that's when things get physical.

Peat noticeably had a rough time on at least two plays against fellow rookie pass-rusher Hau'oli Kikaha on Wednesday, but he's also held pass-rushers at bay on plenty of other plays. Peat has so far been working as the second-string right tackle.

"It's going pretty well. I see improvements every day," Peat said. "So I'm just excited to practice more since I missed a few weeks (and) just kind of getting adjusted to everything."