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Taysom vs. Jameis Saints QB battle: Today's word is 'efficiency'

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Saints practice

New Orleans Saints quarterbacks Taysom Hill (7) and Jameis Winston (2), along with the rest of team, warm up during training camp at the Ochsner Sports Performance Center on Airline Drive in Metairie, Friday, July 30, 2021. (Staff photo by David Grunfeld, | The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate) Content Exchange

METAIRIE, La. - Temperatures approached triple digits as the New Orleans Saints held their first outdoor practice of 2021 training camp, but that didn’t stop fans from packing the bleachers to get their first glimpse of the team in this setting since 2019.

And while many came eager to throw their support behind Jameis Winston or Taysom Hill, who are vying for the chance to succeed Drew Brees, Friday’s practice offered more simple efficiency than it did flash.

Again, Hill worked with the first team offense, and again, coach Sean Payton made clear that Winston’s time with the first team unit will come soon.

Here are a few observations from Day 2 of the post-Drew Brees era.

The numbers

  1. Taysom Hill: 6 completions in 7 attempts during full team drills/ 11 for 14 in camp as a whole
  2. Jameis Winston: 7 completions in 8 attempts during full team drills/ 14 for 16 in camp as a whole
It’s not clear if this was by design, but neither Winston nor Hill pushed the ball downfield much during team drills, opting instead for short, high-percentage pass attempts while they operated the offense.

Five of Winston’s seven completions went to running backs at or near the line of scrimmage. While all but one of Hill’s passes were directed at receivers, they were also kept mostly within about 10 yards of the line of scrimmage.

That’s not to say there weren’t some impressive plays. Winston connected with recent Saints signee Chris Hogan for a gain of about 15 yards during one period, a frozen-rope throw that Hogan secured with an excellent leaping catch. Hill threaded a few in-stride passes to Deonte Harris through tight windows.

Hill’s first pass attempt, a deeper route to Marquez Callaway on the right hash, was so wildly off target that it wasn’t clear if it was simply a bad throw or if Hill thought Callaway was going to be somewhere else. Regardless, it was a missed opportunity: Callaway was open. Hill did rebound to complete his last six attempts in team drills.

Winston took at least one sack, and might’ve taken a second. As usual, the quarterbacks are wearing red non-contact jerseys, so plays are allowed to continue even when defensive linemen get to the quarterback.

Winston’s lone incompletion came on his one attempt at a shot play. It appeared that his intended target, Jalen McCleskey, tripped when his feet got caught up with safety Bryce Thompson.

Hogan’s leaping snare of a Winston pass was easily the most exciting play of the day and got the biggest rise out of the fans in attendance. It obviously was not a perfect pass from Winston, but as has been clear through the first couple days, he has no shortage of arm strength. Perhaps the most impressive thing about Hogan’s catch was that he corralled the rocket.

Programming note

It was a little hard to parse meaning out of what Payton was saying, but it sounded like Winston could be penciled in to get some work with the first team offense Saturday. “Basically, the first two days of install were one and two, tomorrow we go back to one and two, we’ll flip the rotation. A lot of it is install driven.”

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