The signs have all been there for Michael Thomas this training camp, and it felt like more a question of when we'd get first real "wow" moment.
That moment officially arrived on Friday morning in front of the fans out in Metairie, and it was immediately followed by another. MT got his first taste of 7-on-7 reps earlier this week in an unpadded practice before a day off. He took a step forward into 1-on-1s today in full pads, matched up against the likely camp MVP thus far in Paulson Adebo.
The second-year corner has dominated with physicality thus far in camp, but it was no match for Thomas' brand. On the first rep the pair was locked up down the field, before MT made a violent cut toward the pylon, created separation and hauled in a perfect ball from Jameis Winston. The result drew a legitimate roar from the capacity crowd on hand. On his next rep, the same thing happened, but MT snapped off his route to the middle of the field and made a clean catch. Thomas then worked in 7-on-7 drills and snagged a few catches, though he was covered well on one play by LB Pete Werner and the ball was sailed out of bounds over a receiver at the corner of the end zone.
Saints head coach Dennis Allen indicated he was very pleased with the work Thomas has been getting. When will he get fully incorporated into team drills? "I don't want to put an exact timetable on it, but I think that's coming pretty soon," Allen said.
The training wheels aren't all the way off just yet for Mike T, but he's fully revved up in the garage and looks primed for a revenge tour campaign.
There were no major returns to practice today, but there were a handful of notable absences. Star CB Marshon Lattimore wasn't out on the field after leaving practice early on Thursday, with reports indicating it was due to a mild muscle strain. CJ Gardner-Johnson was also absent, though he's been limiting his work in recent days as he seeks a new deal and his absence like wasn't injury related.
DB Dylan Mabin, LB D'Marco Jackson and DT Jaleel Johnson also missed practice.
DE Marcus Davenport and WR/KR are still yet to make their camp debuts. Shaheed was again spotted outside doing rehab work, alongside TE Taysom Hill, who is still working back from a rib injury. He was spotted running some routes and catching passes, a good sign so far as that the rib injury is not limiting him in that regard.
KIKO ALONSO MAKES DEBUT ... WITH A NEW LOOK
The Saints signed familiar linebacker Kiko Alonso this week, and he looks a bit different.
Alonso hasn't played in a game since he suffered an ACL injury in the playoffs as a member of the Saints at the end of the 2019 season. He's now got flowing blond hair, and is wearing the No. 47 in the image of Alex Anzalone in previous seasons.
"He did a nice job in his workout," Allen said. "He was in shape. He looked good, and when he's been healthy he's been a productive player in our league."
Alonso wasted no time getting involved in the action, and he'll continue to compete in the linebacker room that's currently headlined by Demario Davis and Pete Werner.
REAL WET BALLS
I know that header might be confusing, but it's what happened on Friday. The team played through some pretty stiff rain, getting real-life work in wet-ball scenarios that teams will often have to simulate. My soggy notebook could be used as evidence.
TE Adam Trautman said that type of work is valuable. The Saints play indoors, and a majority of games happen in climate-controlled environments. But when that's not the case, you need to be able to handle it. The Saints have at least two outdoor games each season against the Bucs and Panthers, and as Trautman puts it: Tampa is always a little wet.
TJJ FLASHES AGAIN
I've seen what I needed to in the run game from Tony Jones Jr., but I was still waiting for a redeeming moment from the pair of tough drops in a practice last week.
That moment came on Friday, with Jones snagging a pretty ball on a wheel route for what would've been a big gain in 11-on-11s. He smiled when asked about his receiving ability after practice and said there was a lot more to come if coaches game him the opportunity. He's quickly rising up the board in the race for the depth RB spot behind Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram.
As was noted yesterday, the WR is the "winner" in the 1V1 rep if a catch is made, the DB wins if the ball hits the ground. Take these with a grain of salt as the context is important, but this is how it shook out on Friday.
- Jarvis Landry vs Bradley Roby (INT)
- Michael Thomas vs Paulson Adebo
- Kawaan Baker vs Alontae Taylor
- Marquez Callaway vs Vincent Gray
- Tre'Quan Smith vs Bryce Thompson (inconclusive/drop)
- Kevin White vs DaMarcus Fields
- Chris Olave vs Bradley Roby
- Easop Winston vs Alontae Taylor
- Kirk Merritt vs Paulson Adebo
- Jarvis Landry vs Bryce Thompson*
- Dai'Jean Dixon vs Vincent Gray
- Deonte Harris vs Bradley Roby
- Chris Olave vs Alontae Taylor
- Michael Thomas vs Paulson Adebo
* = likely flag
A few important notes: Bradley Roby snagged his fourth interception of camp (by my count). That's easily tops on the team, and he continues to display an impressive ball-hawking ability that makes this secondary even more impressive.
There were two reps above that need to give Jameis Winston major props. Paulson Adebo had perfect coverage on Kirk Merritt, but Jameis made an ever more perfect throw to Merritt's back shoulder and he made an impressive grab. The same thing happened two reps later when Dai'Jean Dixon beat Vincent Gray for a touchdown. It wasn't his sharpest day overall, but he's making standout throws regularly now. The consistency is coming.
CALL HIM TAE
I'd gotten conflicting information on exactly how to pronounce Alontae Taylor's first name, so I asked him about it today. In reality, it won't matter, because he let us know his preferred title going forward:
Safety Tyrann Mathieu is ramping up and took part in 7-on-7 drills today, his involvement will be worth tracking going forward. ... Pelicans guard Devonte' Graham was in attendance on Friday and signed autographs for fans. ... There have been no signs of any altercations the past few days after three consecutive days of dust-ups to start the week. Whatever Dennis Allen said was clearly taken to heart. ... NFL Network's Ian Rapoport was in attendance at camp on Friday, and he went away impressed. Here's what he had to say.