Derek Carr was impressive on and off the field Tuesday as he completed his first full offseason practice during Saints organized team activities.
The veteran free-agent quarterback was in command throughout the two-hour workout and connected with second-year receiver Chris Olave on a bomb in coverage against Marcus Maye.
But as the veteran quarterback noted, it was just Day 1, and he’s still trying to learn the basics of calling the proper plays in the new system and handing off to the right back.
“It was a good start,” Carr said.
If Carr’s first offseason news conference is any indication, fans and reporters are going to enjoy his weekly briefings. The veteran quarterback was candid, funny and expansive with his answers throughout his 22-minute meeting with local reporters.
I never thought anyone could outdo Drew Brees as a delivery man during news conferences, but Carr certainly held his own. He made a strong first impression as the face of the franchise.
Carr quipped about rookie quarterback Jake Haener’s official team photo shoot, which recently went viral on social media, and his family’s first experience with a storm-related power outage.
He was self-deprecating, too, making fun of his now infamous visit to Chipotle on his first visit to New Orleans.
“I never wanted to leave Las Vegas, but … I’m glad I’m here,” Carr said. “It’s rejuvenated me being here."
Lots of big names MIA
Front-liners Alvin Kamara, Marshon Lattimore, Michael Thomas, Taysom Hill, Demario Davis, Ryan Ramczyk and Andrus Peat were among the 10 players missing from the workout.
There were some big names on the field, as Carr, Cam Jordan, Tyrann Mathieu and Chris Olave lent star power to the offense and defense.
Saints coach Dennis Allen said he communicated with each absentee player in the days ahead of workouts so there were no surprises.
In all, 80 of the 89 players on the roster were present, which is on par with the participation at past offseason workouts.
“We are excited about the guys that are here,” Allen said. “We’re hopeful that we are going to continue to get some more guys here. We’re going to focus on the guys here and get those guys better. When the other guys show up, we’re going to coach the hell out of them."
Veteran offensive lineman James Hurst and veteran safety J.T. Gray also were absent.
Allen said he expected Kamara to attend the team's minicamp practice next month.
Attrition hits hard on the offensive line
Carr was forced to operate behind a threadbare offensive line because of multiple absences.
Cesar Ruiz and Trevor Penning were present and in uniform, but did not practice while recovering from foot surgeries. Their absences, coupled with Peat and Ramczyk being sidelined, left the offensive line without four of its five projected starters.
The first-team offensive line was left tackle Landon Young, left guard Yasir Durant, center Erik McCoy, left guard Calvin Throckmorton and right tackle Storm Norton.
With so many new faces, the group’s execution was inconsistent at best. On one run play, offensive line coach Doug Marrone scolded Durant for missing an assignment, an understandable mistake for a newcomer in his first offseason in the offense.
“We’ve got a lot of getting better to do,” Allen said. “There are a lot of new pieces, a lot of moving parts. We’re going to utilize this opportunity to get better.”
Moreau has no limitations
Foster Moreau looked no worse for wear as he practiced for the first time since being diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma, a type of cancer of the lymph nodes.
The former Jesuit and LSU standout said he has completed his treatment for the disease and has no limitations from doctors on his practice regimen.
“He’s working hard,” Allen said “Looks good physically and I think he’s going to be a good addition for us.”
Moreau is working with the first- and second-team offense, along with incumbent Juwan Johnson.
Tight end opening eyes
Lucas Krull might be flying under the radar at the tight end position. The former undrafted free agent from Pitt might have caught more passes than any other target on the roster Tuesday. Krull is an excellent athlete and has some of the surest hands on the team, but as Allen noted, his path to playing time will depend on his ability to improve as a blocker.
“He’s a young guy that showed some promise last year,” Allen said. “He’s got pretty good vertical speed down the field. He’s really good in terms on one-cut route running, seams and things of that nature. We are excited about him.”
It was good to see second-year safety Smoke Monday back on the field. The former undrafted free agent from Auburn missed his rookie season season because of injury. He worked primarily with the third-team defense alongside veteran Johnathan Abram. … Kirk Merritt is still officially listed as a wide receiver, but he worked exclusively with the running backs on Tuesday and continues to wear No. 33. The staff remains high on the athleticism and playmaking ability of the former Destrehan standout. … Tough break for rookie offensive lineman Nick Saldiveri, who is sidelined with a calf injury, Allen said. Rookies need every snap they can get at this time of year because they won’t get many in the fall…. Haener definitely looks shorter than the 6-foot-1 height he’s listed at on the official roster. He measured 5-11 at the NFL scouting combine. But Haener’s lack of height was not an issue during team drills, as he operated the offense efficiently during his reps with the third-team offense. His highlight was a long back-shoulder completion to rookie A.T. Perry against Jordan Howden. … Other players who were present but did not practice because of unspecified reasons: Kendre Miller, Eno Benjamin and Miller Forristall.