OTAs give first glimpse of 2017 Saints
With the start of Organized Team Activities (OTAs), the New Orleans Saints are getting their first glimpse of what could be a special team in 2017. This week, the Saints entered the final phase of their OTAs, giving coaches a look at the veterans alongside their new draft picks and undrafted free agents.
The “voluntary” sessions are intended to give players a chance to execute the basics of the team’s system before training camp opens in July. OTAs include two weeks of strength and conditioning, followed by three weeks of each unit practicing without opposition, and 10 days of full non-contact practice spread over four weeks. In these helmet and shoulder pad practices, the offense and defense line up against each other, with no hits on skill-position players (QBs, RBs, WRs, TEs), and linemen engaging in low intensity protecting and attacking.
“It’s really the first chance out on the field,” Saints head coach Sean Payton said. “It has been mainly walkthroughs the past couple of weeks. This is the first chance for the younger players…to see an experienced player ahead of them do certain things that they have been doing. The learning curve for them is greater, and their ability to pick things up are enhanced when they have the older players here.”
All eyes have been on running back Adrian Peterson, one of the NFL’s all-time greats, who signed a two-year, $7 million contract with a $2.5 million signing bonus with the Saints in April after 10 seasons with the Minnesota Vikings.
On Thursday, the Saints worked on screen passes with Peterson catching passes out of the backfield from Drew Brees. Peterson is built like a Mac Truck. The idea of him barreling away in space, getting isolation on a cornerback in space, and running over him is captivating Saints fans imaginations.
Peterson is a seven-time Pro Bowler (2007–2010, 2012, 2013, 2015), three-time rushing yards leader (2008, 2012, 2015), NFL Most Valuable Player and Offensive Player of the Year (2012). In 123 games, he has gained 11,747 yards on 2,418 carries for 97 touchdowns and a 4.9 yards per carry average.
“He has picked things up well. He has been here through the whole offseason program (since he signed with the team),” Payton said. “He is in good shape and moving around well. It is good to be able to get out and do some football movements and get that timing down. He has done well.
He’s comfortable catching the football in space…. He made a few catches today that looked pretty good.”
As an injury precaution, the team kept RB Mark Ingram out of practice Thursday, giving Peterson optimal time to show off in front of the first media-covered practice of the season.
Payton relayed good news concerning center Max Unger, the anchor of the offensive line.
“We expect him to be back hopefully earlier in training camp than later,” the coach said. “He is doing well; he is rehabbing here.
“We have a goal for him to play in the preseason, so that would be probably week three or week four.”
Adrian Peterson at a glance
7× Pro Bowler
4× First-team All-Pro (2008, 2009, 2012, 2015)
3× Second-team All-Pro (2007, 2010, 2013)
NFL Most Valuable Player (2012)
NFL Offensive Player of the Year (2012)
NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year (2007)
3× NFL rushing yards leader (2008, 2012, 2015)
2× NFL rushing touchdowns leader (2009, 2015)
Career stats 2007-2016
Games Yards Carries Average TDs
123 11,747 2,418 4.9 97