Offense coming back to life: 10 takeaways from Saints-Packers practice on Aug. 17

Chris Olave, Lucas Krull, and the Saints offense looked to get back into rhythm during the second day of joint practices with the Packers. 10 takeaways, via @RossJacksonNOLA:

The defenses of the New Orleans Saints and Green Bay Packers will continue to be the topic of major conversation when it comes to the joint practices across the street from Lambeau Field. However, on Wednesday, while both offenses struggled for the majority of practice, some of the stars and big names found ways to show out. Here are our key takeaways from Wednesday’s joint practice with the Packers:

Michael Thomas dominates again in Day 13 of Saints training camp

Michael Thomas produces more highlights in Day 13 of Saints training camp and more important takeaways, via @RossJacksonNOLA:

The goal for New Orleans Saints training camp Day 13 was to watch some of the guys that will get real opportunities in this weekend’s Houston Texans matchup. But it’s hard to do that when a superstar just keeps making big plays. In front of the fans and in full pads, Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas dazzled yet again. Here are some of his highlights and more key observations from today’s practice:

Saints’ Demario Davis primed to outperform his top-10 LB ranking from NFL personnel

Demario Davis is finally getting the recognition he deserves with a top-10 ranking as voted on by players, coaches, and executives, via @RossJacksonNOLA:

The role of the NFL linebacker has changed drastically changed across the NFL. With more and more two-linebacker sets, defenses across the league are asking their second-level players to be more involved in the passing game than die-hard football fans will remember from the Lawrence Taylors and Brian Urlachers of the world. New Orleans Saints star Demario Davis has navigated that evolution over the next decade by developing into a multifacted defender who can cover, rush the passer and make plays in the run game. All while being the quarterback of Dennis Allen’s defense.

His progress netted him the No. 6 spot on ESPN’s top-10 off-ball linebackers list ahead of the 2022 season. The rankings are determined by the votes of NFL players, coaches and executives. Davis’ ability to mold to the modern-day game did not go unnoticed. Here’s what NFL personnel shared with ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler:

“He might start to decline this year, but he’s so damn smart that it almost doesn’t matter,” an NFL personnel evaluator said. “Does everything well.”

“He’s always been an exceptional athlete and worker, and just the maturity that comes from being in the position for so long and being in multiple schemes and the game evolving to more sub-based packages has allowed him to become the three-down prototype,” an NFC scout said.

Davis is expected to be accompanied this season by second-year pro Pete Werner. For the majority of the last two season, he’s worked next to current free agent Kwon Alexander. But Werner’s versatility as a multi-phase defender himself may have a positive impact on Davis. Not to mention the team arguably improved at safety with the offseason acquisitions of Tyrann Mathieu and Marcus Maye. The ability to disguise across the field (and don’t forget C.J. Gardner-Johnson) could generate confusion and hesitation for opposing quarterbacks, opening time for the former Arkansas State Red Wolf to get after them or take advantage of their mistakes over the middle.

Davis’ production has not seen a decline since joining the Saints. He’s racked up over 100 tackles in each of the last four years since arriving in 2018. He’s also produced at a level that no defender across the league has during that span as well.

With his ability to impact that game several different ways on defense, his willingness to continue to evolve with the game, and a strong supporting cast. Davis is primed to outplay his No. 6 ranking in 2022.

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Watch: Demario Davis leads the Saints pregame huddle in Week 17

Watch: Demario Davis leads the Saints pregame huddle in Week 17

He’s back: linebacker Demario Davis returned to the New Orleans Saints after missing last week’s game on the COVID-19 reserve list and immediately made an impact, resuming his leadership role prior to kickoff with the Carolina Panthers. Davis addressed his huddled teammates from their home end zone at the Caesars Superdome.

These weekly pregame speeches have been one of the longest-enduring traditions in the Sean Payton era, with Drew Brees passing the torch off to Davis in his later years and Cameron Jordan filling in for him in Week 16. Davis remains one of the best linebackers in the game today, no matter what the obsolete Pro Bowl roster might tell you, but his strengths as a leader are only part of what’s made him such an effective pickup for New Orleans. He’s a game-changing talent on the field, too.

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Watch: Demario Davis gets his Saints teammates hyped up before Titans kickoff

Watch: Demario Davis gets his Saints teammates hyped up before Titans kickoff

Demario Davis is the kind of leader that speaks with his actions and his words. The New Orleans Saints’ defensive captain is known for his All-Pro efforts on the field, but he’s been just as eager to get his teammates riled up in the final minutes before kickoff — so here’s a quick look into this week’s pregame speech.

It’s important to have tone-setters like Davis leading the team. The leadership and sky-high level of play he brings to the table gets everyone around him up and ready to compete. Hopefully they can overcome a long list of injuries to push the AFC-leading Tennessee Titans.

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Demario Davis missed Saints practice for the birth of his daughter

Demario Davis missed Saints practice for the birth of his daughter

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Good news, everyone: Amie Just of the Times-Picayune | Advocate reported Thursday afternoon that Demario Davis had a very good reason for missing the day’s New Orleans Saints practice session — joining his wife Tamela for the birth of their daughter, Stormie-Love. She is the couple’s fifth child.

It’s great to see Davis and his family are doing well, and it’s a safe bet that the All-Pro linebacker will be looking to dedicate his performance in the Saints’ upcoming home game with the New York Giants to their new addition. Good for them.

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Watch: Demario Davis delivers first Saints pregame speech of 2021

Watch: Demario Davis delivers first Saints pregame speech of 2021

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Alvin Kamara may be the face of the franchise post-Drew Brees, but Demario Davis might be the loudest voice in the New Orleans Saints locker room. Davis began leading the pregame huddle when Brees missed time with an injury in 2018, and he’s taken on that role full-time now that No. 9 has entered retirement.

Davis spoke to his teammates before their Week 1 kickoff with the Green Bay Packers, acknowledging the oddness of playing a home game in Jacksonville, due to Hurricane Ida — and stressing the need to come away with a win for the fans back home.

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Demario Davis to be inducted to Arkansas State Hall of Honor

Saints LB Demario Davis to be inducted to Arkansas State Hall of Honor

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Here’s good news for Demario Davis: the New Orleans Saints linebacker will be inducted to the Arkansas State Hall of Honor in September, where he’ll join other prominent Red Wolves athletes. It’s a big moment for Davis, who credits the coaching and positive environment he encountered at Arkansas State with turning his life around.

He’s got an argument to be the best free agent signing in Saints history behind Drew Brees. Davis answered a decades-long drought at linebacker after joining the black and gold in 2018, playing at an even higher level than fan-favorite predecessors like Jonathan Vilma. He won a spot on the All-Pro first team in 2019 and has become one of the most popular players on the team in recent years.

He’s also the only player in the NFL to record at least 110 tackles (10 or more of them for loss of yards) and four sacks in each of the last four years, three of which were spent with the Saints. He turned 32 back in January, but he’s still playing the best football of his career.

The ceremony is scheduled for Sept. 3, falling in-between New Orleans’ final preseason game on Aug. 28 and their Week 1 kickoff on Sept. 12. It’s unclear whether Davis will be able to attend with heightened COVID-19 concerns abounding, but here’s hoping he gets to enjoy the moment at some point with those close to him.

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Demario Davis hopeful Drew Brees returns for 2021

New Orleans Saints LB Demario Davis is hopeful his teammate QB Drew Brees won’t retire just yet, instead returning for the 2021 season.

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Don’t count Demario Davis among the crowd calling for Drew Brees to retire. The New Orleans Saints linebacker gave his quarterback a vote of confidence on NFL Network’s “Good Morning Football” program on Thursday, expressing hope Brees will return for another title run in the 2021 season.

“I hope so. Man I sure hope so,” Davis replied when asked if Brees is coming back. “I would feel much better if I could guarantee that he was.”

It’s easy to understand his stance. Davis joined Brees as an elected team captain right away after signing with the Saints in 2018, and they’ve gone 42-13 since then (including the playoffs). His previous quarterbacks have included Mark Sanchez, Geno Smith, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Cody Kessler, and Josh McCown, and his past teams went a combined 34-62. He knows the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.

So you have to think he’s hoping for stability. We’ll find out soon what’s coming next for New Orleans; Saints coach Sean Payton expects Brees to announce his decision after Super Bowl LV, and general manager Mickey Loomis is comfortable waiting on Brees to share that news himself. Other leaders on the team like Malcolm Jenkins understand it’s not an easy call for Brees to make, given how many injuries have stacked up for the passer in recent years.

Whatever decision Brees makes, whether to return or retire, it’ll impact everyone around him, including his Saints teammates. You have to think that’s weighing on him, too, along with all the other factors at play. If he does decide his playing days are behind him, the Saints can trust they’ll still have Davis commanding their defense.

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Demario Davis reacts to Walter Payton Man of the Year nomination

New Orleans Saints linebacker Demario Davis thanked the team for his Walter Payton Man of the Year Award nomination during a difficult year.

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Demario Davis was nominated for the 2020 Walter Payton Man of the Year Award this week, and the New Orleans Saints linebacker took time to thank the team for that recognition from his official Twitter account.

Between his efforts on the field — which earned him an All-Pro nod and a three-year contract extension this offseason — and his leadership in advocating for civil rights and criminal justice reform off of it, Davis has had a busy year and proven how much he means to his community.

The award’s winner will be announced in January; here’s how you can support Davis in the weeks ahead.

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