Skip to main content

Training Camp Buzz: Saints WR Michael Thomas improving in recovery; Jets making rookie CB earn 'Sauce' nickname

Saints' Thomas, Winston progressing in recovery

It's been a little over a week since Michael Thomas (ankle) returned to practice after a brief stay on the PUP list to start camp. The Saints wide receiver is starting to look like his former All-Pro self as the team advances his output. Multiple reports out of New Orleans on Friday say Thomas is flashing his trademark physicality during 1-on-1s and head coach Dennis Allen told reporters after practice that he expects the veteran participating in team drills soon. A healthy Thomas generates a strong WR corps for the Saints, who signed Jarvis Landry and drafted Chris Olave in the first round this offseason; veterans Tre'Quan Smith and Marquez Callaway provide quality depth while Alvin Kamara offers hands out of the backfield. But an intriguing passing attack depends on the status of another recovery with quarterback Jameis Winston coming off an ACL tear. NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported on Inside Training Camp Live Friday that Winston is "about where the Saints want him to be" despite having yet to regain the mobility of his former self. Rapoport referenced last season's ACL recovery of Joe Burrow as a similar situation where the Bengals QB didn't get his legs back until about a month into the 2021 season. Should Thomas and Winston get back to where they once were, the Saints offense has great potential to maintain its prowess following the exit of Sean Payton.

Jets won't be calling him Sauce just yet

The Jets are making rookie cornerback Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner earn his nickname this season. "We told him if he gets two pick-sixes in the preseason, then we might give him Sauce," veteran linebacker C.J. Mosley said on Inside Training Camp Live. "And it's got to be against the 1s, too, so no 2s, 3s, backups, all that. More than likely, we'll start calling him Sauce when he makes a big play in the regular season." Robert Saleh is also taking part in the team's initiative by calling him "A.G." in the meantime. The Jets head coach told reporters Friday that he likes what he's seen so far from the No. 4 overall pick. "He's got a mindset and a chip on his shoulder. I've never seen a rookie talk so much trash, but it's good," Saleh said. "He's an interesting young man. Love where he's at mentally. He's still got a long way to go in terms of understanding the game and all that off, but he's a sponge and he's taking it all in." Joining ITC Live after Mosley revealed the team's goal-setting action, Gardner is happy to earn it back. "That's what I want -- that's how it was in Cincy," he said. "I wouldn't have it any other way."

Chargers pass rush has J.C. Jackson rubbing his hands

No player has more interceptions than J.C. Jackson since he entered the league in 2018. The Pro Bowl cornerback believes his impressive pace is poised to improve playing on a Chargers defense that features Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack. "I've never played with a pass rush like that, so we're gonna see what that's gonna look like," Jackson said, via Nick Cothrel of Sports Illustrated. "I believe I can make more turnovers." Jackson's 25 INTs in four seasons have given credence to his self-given "Mr. INT" nickname, and the former undrafted free agent is one of the best rags-to-riches stories after earning a hefty contract from the Chargers this offseason. Jackson not only hopes to better his impressive numbers in L.A., but he aims to enhance young Chargers CBs like Asante Samuel Jr. to add value to his services. "He's got a big future ahead of him," Jackson said of Samuel. "Sometimes he asks me some tips and questions and as an older guy, I love that. I love the motivation to help the young guys as much as I can."

Browning's conversion to the edge

The Broncos are asking linebacker Baron Browning to make a switch to the edge ahead of his second season. Broncos coach Nathaniel Hackett is pleased with how things are going, saying Friday the move is "even better than we thought." Browning is being asked to help the Broncos' pass rush despite earning a starting role as an interior LB by the end of his rookie season. Bolstering its pass rush is an ideal defensive strategy for Denver as the team competes in a quarterback-rich AFC West. The Broncos' talented secondary should also benefit from the pressure. With Bradley Chubb looking to regain his rookie form and newly acquired Randy Gregory still on the mend, Browning is turning himself into an important piece for the Broncos defense.

Tucker ends Ravens' 'sharpest' practice of camp

Successful days in Baltimore have often ended with a Justin Tucker field goal. Such was the case on Friday following what Ravens coach John Harbaugh described as the team's best practice of camp so far. "I thought we had the sharpest practice of the year; both sides of the ball was pretty well on point, so that was good to see," Harbaugh said. "Tucker ended it with a field goal to end practice. He made it. He missed an earlier one, but, you know, he's only good under pressure, apparently. That's what Justin Houston said." Tucker is coming off a memorable season where he set a new NFL record with a 66-yard field goal to beat Detroit as time expired. The four-time All-Pro also made 94.6% of his FGs while converting all 32 of his PAT attempts in 2021.

Josh Johnson brings Bay Area kids to Denver

Josh Johnson is doing the best he possibly can to help provide relief for youngsters who were impacted by a shooting during a youth football game in Oakland. The veteran quarterback on Friday brought 40 Oakland-area kids to Broncos practice in the aftermath of the shooting. "The point of this is to encourage healing and find ways to peak life into one another even if we may be wronged, which I know is hard as hell," Johnson said in a statement. "However, if you have the ability to show someone a positive light or way, please do it because the pain is taking over at home and too many good souls feel they have to get even instead of doing what's best for the greater good." Seeking no publicity from his act of kindness, Johnson managed to make all this happen on his own and won the day in the process.

Burns crashes McCaffrey's presser

Known for his web-slinging sack celebrations, Panthers pass rusher Brian Burns personified the trendy Spider-Man meme when asking Christian McCaffrey a question about himself in third person. "Brian Burns is such a good ball player. He's a little bit weird off the field and he has some issues, but when it comes to on the field he's such a good player," McCaffrey answered, via Joe Person of The Athletic. "It's special to watch. We don't talk to him too much, just cause he's a little bit off, but he can play the run, he can play the pass. Overall just an amazing player." Amazing is right.

Training Camp highlights

For the fans

NFL+ gives you the freedom to watch LIVE out-of-market preseason games, LIVE local and prime-time regular-season and postseason games on your phone or tablet, the best NFL programming on-demand and more! Wherever you are, this is how you football! Learn more about NFL+.

Related Content