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Saints, like many, talk about having eye on Beckham in draft

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METAIRIE, La. — Like almost everyone else, the New Orleans Saints had an eye on New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. when he entered the NFL draft after his junior season at LSU.

On Sunday, the Saints will get an up-close look at what they missed out on when they go against the Giants in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome — not far from where Beckham played his high school football.

“Absolutely, we were one of those teams in line … just like everyone else,” Saints head coach Sean Payton said on Wednesday. “We were up for the workout. I went in the room and it was Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry in there. We’ve got this highlight tape that was put together; it wasn’t game tape, it was some practice tape and we sat in there for about 15 minutes.

“I just remember coming away from the meeting going, ‘Holy cow,'” he added. “I would say it was one of the most impressive pro days, in regards to receiver workouts, because look, you had those two running around. Just a lot of skill on the field and you could see the explosiveness with (Beckham).”

The only problem was the Saints were picking a lot later than the Giants, who scooped Beckham up with the 13th overall pick. The Saints traded up to the 20th spot and took Oregon State wide receiver Brandin Cooks with that selection.

–The Saints have won their last two games in the Superdome after a head-scratching six-game losing streak that stretched back to the middle of the 2014 campaign.

After dropping their home opener to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sept. 20, the Saints beat the Dallas Cowboys (26-20 in overtime) on Oct. 4 and toppled the Atlanta Falcons (31-21) from the ranks of the undefeated on Oct. 15.

New Orleans has won four consecutive matchups with the Giants in the Superdome.

–Prior to last Sunday’s game with the Indianapolis Colts, the Saints did not have a running play of at least 20 yards in their first six outings — which is one of the reasons they ranked 31st in the league going into the contest.

On the other hand, all of the other 31 NFL teams had combined for 117 runs of 20 yards or longer going into Week 7.

But running back Mark Ingram finally got the Saints in the game when he ripped off runs of 20, 35 and 44 yards in their 27-21 victory over the Colts.

Ingram finished with 143 yards and a 1-yard touchdown on 14 attempts.

–One week after he tore his Achilles’ tendon and fractured his wrist trying to stop thieves from stealing his car in the middle of the night, Saints assistant head coach/linebackers coach Joe Vitt had his spirits lifted a bit Sunday.

First, the Saints gave Vitt a win over the Colts in his 600th game as an NFL coach. Then, Payton awarded Vitt a game ball after he coached throughout the week to help the team prepare despite his injuries.

“He had a great week of practice despite the challenges and our team feeds off that energy,” Payton said.

“He had a rough one,” center Max Unger said admiringly. “He didn’t back down and he really didn’t change anything throughout the week. He was in there doing everything he normally does — with one good leg and one good arm. … Nobody was going to tell him he couldn’t do something, so (I have) a lot of respect for him.”

–Unger almost had a hand in the play that helped the Saints build a 27-point lead over the Colts on Sunday, a fake field-goal attempt that resulted in a 25-yard gain to set up a short touchdown run in the first period.

Holder Luke McCown raised up and threw the pass to tight end Benjamin Watson, but Unger also ran downfield as an eligible receiver as well.

“Oh yeah, I was wide open. … I should have got that ball,” Unger said with a laugh. “Really, I don’t know why I was out (in the pattern). I guess it was to kind of put one of the guys in a harder position, (thinking if he) should go cover Ben in the flat or cover me down the hash.

“Ben made a great play,” Unger said before noting he had never caught a pass in a game in any level of his football career. “It was interesting being downfield legally. That was kind of cool.”

–Against the Colts, the Saints extended their streak of regular-season games with at least one touchdown to 152 — giving them the second-longest streak in NFL history.

The Saints went into the game with a touchdown in 151 games in a row, which tied them with the San Diego Chargers for second place.

The Cleveland Browns own the record with at least one touchdown in 166 consecutive games from 1957-69.

Notes: Tackle Andrus Peat (knee) did not practice Wednesday and will miss Sunday’s game with the New York Giants because of a sprained MCL. … Linebacker David Hawthorne (hamstring) was held out of Wednesday’s practice because of a hamstring injury and his status for the Giants game is unknown. … Cornerback Keenan Lewis (hip) returned to practice on a limited basis Wednesday after missing Sunday’s game and his status for this week is unknown.


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