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Sean Payton impressed with Jared Cook, young wide receivers at Saints OTAs

Seth Dunlap
May 23, 2019 - 6:19 pm

The 2019 NFL season is in its infant stages, with just a few days of OTAs in the books, but player evaluations are already underway.  For the Saints, and head coach Sean Payton, that means getting a first real look at newly signed players like tight end Jared Cook.

Cook, who himself expressed excitement about playing alongside Drew Brees and Michael Thomas after today's practice, is coming off a career-best season in Oakland where he caught 68 passes for nearly 900 yards and six touchdowns.  Payton has been impressed so far by Cook at camp.

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“He is picking it up. I thought he had a good rookie camp (first week of OTAs)," Payton said.  "He's smart. Obviously there's a lot that goes on with that position. But, he's someone that has played long enough and there are some nuances (that are different here), but he's done well."

The Saints have been searching for a play-making tight end since Jimmy Graham was traded away, and the Cook has the potential to be the big-play receiver the team has been longing for at the position.  Expect Payton to take advantage of Cook's versatile skill set.

“He has been utilized in different ways. He is explosive. He runs extremely well. I think he’s in good shape. It's the first time that he and Drew (Brees) are working together and you know they'll get a ton of reps and a ton of work in between now and when we get started in the end of July."

Another player who caught Payton's eye is newcomer Cyril Grayson Jr., who is trying to make the roster at wide receiver.  Grayson Jr. ran track at LSU and is one of the most decorated athletes in the history of the school's Track & Field program.  His elite speed is impressing coaches as camp progresses. 

"Yeah, he's a guy that can run exceptionally well. He was a little bit limited relative to the experience he's had, but he's been in a few camps now. So, I think the first thing is speed. We will have a chance to look at him in the return game as well. But, he is someone that runs exceptionally well, but he seemed to pick things up again quick."

Another LSU product, Travin Dural, is back in action after suffering a broken arm last July that derailed his rookie year.  Dural showed flashes of good special team coverage skills last year, and also played wide receiver at LSU.  

"He is healthy. He has had a whole offseason to get healthy. I think he is in better shape," Payton noticed. "He's a little stronger in his lower body. So, it's good to have him out here so we can get an evaluation and begin to work with him."

Watch Payton's full press conference in the video below.

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