New Orleans Saints rookie offensive tackle Trevor Penning was kicked out of practice on Wednesday for his involvement in a scuffle with defensive tackle Malcolm Roach. It marked the third consecutive day Penning has been involved in a fight at practice. Penning’s tough-nosed approach is appreciated, but things are starting to spiral out of control. Video footage of Wednesday’s scuffle was captured.
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Penning plays a physical position that demands attitude. You’d prefer to roster an offensive lineman that needs to tone things down as opposed to one that isn’t physical enough. Penning is clearly still searching for the correct balance two weeks into his first professional training camp. It’s crucial Penning finds his footing before September marks its arrival.
For what it’s worth, Saints Head Coach Dennis Allen does not appreciate Penning’s recent behavior.
“We don’t have time for that,” Allen said following Wednesday’s practice skirmish.
It’s worth monitoring how Penning responds to Wednesday’s punishment. His actions will be closely monitored by the Saints’ coaching staff going forward. Another scuffle at practice this week would indicate Penning didn’t learn his lesson. The Saints want Penning to showcase growth when afforded the opportunity.
On the flip side, the Saints shouldn’t be surprised by Penning’s antics thus far. The No. 19 overall selection in the 2022 NFL Draft, Penning’s aggressive demeanor was well noted throughout his time at Northern Iowa. Penning possesses a nasty approach in the trenches where he looks to embarrass defenders through the whistle. Similar post-play antics routinely got him in trouble at this year’s Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama, where several defenders were involved in similar grappling bouts with Penning throughout drills. This is merely a continuation of who Penning has always been.
The Saints are counting on Penning to bring continued success to one of the league’s most effective offensive line units. Penning was drafted in the first round following the departure of three-time Pro Bowl offensive tackle Terron Armstead, who signed a lucrative contract with the Miami Dolphins in free agency. Armstead’s absence created a sizable hole at left tackle.
To date, Penning has earned some first-team reps as New Orleans’ blindside protector. Veteran swing tackle James Hurst is also in the mix to start at left tackle. Hurst is a utility offensive lineman that played three positions for the Saints last season, most notably filling in for Armstead at left tackle. Hurst performed admirably throughout that audition and has the benefit of possessing experience in the system. Penning has the benefit of being a first-round pick.
It’s reasonable to think the Saints would prefer Penning to win the job given the capital they invested, but they’re not going to simply hand it to him if Hurts displays he’s the better option. It’s the only battle for a starting job across New Orleans’ offensive line. Better practice-day etiquette would improve Penning’s chances.
Penning will continue to make life difficult for his opponents. Maturing to the point where he no longer risks discipline to himself or injury to his teammates would allow him to reach the desired level of controlled aggression. The Saints clearly appreciate Penning’s play style—they wouldn’t have drafted him with a premium first-round selection otherwise. They’d simply prefer him to impose that will on adversaries as opposed to teammates.